There has been little joy in cities and towns in the DR Congo in the past days as if there have ever been for many years now. The end game is that the country keeps giving peace and security a hard time making it appear as an undisciplined teacher turning up to start class while schools are on holidays.
But events don’t have to be that sordid except they benefit a selected few whose ambitions are to get and stay in power regardless of who they trample on. In our draper days, classrooms used to re-echo with chants of “the pygmies live in the Congo Forever”.
It has been a long time that this is remembered. The notion has been replaced by immeasurable drawbacks such as insecurity, rape, child soldiers and dozens more which put the country among the baddies.
Political observers are in the sway as to why the DRC could not re-engage a gear of calm to reconnect with the word. A vast country awash with many of the world’s top 10 minerals could do better than what is on the plate at the moment.
Visitors to its capital, Kinshasa are frequently enthused by the country’s posture and semblance of calm and a community on the move. High rise buildings, well paved boulevards, streaming cars twenty-four hours a day and traffic lights that work gives the first time visitor the forged notion that at last, here is one African country that is plodding on.
Venture approximately 10 miles from the city’s central axis and you would be startled by the sudden change-mud huts, unkempt layout of the road network and over growth as well as rubbish stuffed drains. These are the hallmarks of the capital.
What makes the city stand out is that on its left side is the other Congo: Brazzaville. The two Congos are separated by the crocodile-infested Congo River. I remember standing on my toes some years back at the Congo Brazzaville soil and could pick out the flow of traffic in Kinshasa.
Brazzaville is lifeless while Kinshasa is bursting with go-go life. So why all this trouble in the East of the interior of the DRC one may ask. It stems from a complexity of problems with nearly all political leaders in the country trying to elbow each other in a bid to rule.
When it is not an unheard of army officer from one area in the vast country trying to fly his political kite, it may turn out to be an obscure third rate politician trying to seize power. In the interior, anything goes. From the army general who would pocket the salaries of soldiers, the bureaucrat who would offer to buy out the wife of a messenger if she is beautiful, and the regional minister who would be accompanied frequently by two staffers, one carrying his briefcase, the other, holding the car keys.
As you would expect, soldiers frequently switch sides depending on where the cash flow is. This is why there is the prevalent suspicion that local soldiers fighting with UN forces are sometimes not giving off their best zeal.
Chances of getting the Congo on its feet remains a distant prospect as it will not yield any dividend to the powers that be. In all this, the civilian remains the hardest hit, forced to be on the road times without number and hardly knowing what the fighting is all about.
Like many other African states, the leaders are less considerate bothered, mainly by how fast they can plunder the treasury and stash up their wealth. The Congo has been long in the twist and like being involved in roller coaster politics.
Eastern Congo particularly the two KIVUS-North and East remain the ugly spots denting the country’s image. Since January for instance, nearly half a million people mainly women and children have fled North KIVU Province to safer areas.
Some 800,000 people remain displaced from recent upsurge in fighting. The conflict is further over stretched by the presence of the well armed Hutu rebel group operating under the name the FDLP (the Liberation of Rwanda).
These are practically elements that are resisting to return to Rwanda, claiming a stake in the political pie of the DRC. In such a battering situation, nobody tells you that it provides adequate attraction for politicians on the side who follow the money regardless of crumbs are not even left to be shared.
In the DR Congo, people no longer talk of tightening their belts because there is no waist line left to tie it on.