Tshisekedi’s policy in the Kivu’s: a never ending list of blunders…………..

By Marc Hoogsteyns
On 19 August 2022 at 05:47

Marc Hoogsteyns is a free-lance journalist who lived and worked most of his life in the African Great Lakes Region. He covers Countries especially DR Congo, Rwanda and Burundi. He runs Kivu Press Agency. The views expressed in this article are of the writer.

President Felix Tshisekedi is hosting an SADC encounter in Kinshasa during which he was appointed the new leader for the coming year. As expected, he used the occasion to tap on Rwanda by calling the so-called Rwandan support to the M-23 barbaric and cruel. Tshisekedi is running out of options to find possible allies to back up a military force to counter the M-23 in the Kivu’s: the collaboration with Monusco went completely bankrupt after it became clear that this organization could not prevent that the FARDC was using FDLR elements to fight them, the grass was cut in front of the feet of a possible East-African intervention force by allowing the Burundian army pre-emptively on Congolese soil. This army has a very bad reputation and consists largely of Imbonerakure Hutu extremists. Felix Tshisekedi had also hoped that the visit of the American Secretary of State Anthony Blinken could help him in condemning the Rwandans. But that failed big time as well. His last option is now to get the support of the SADC but that chance is very slim as well given the fact that the South-Africans are currently probably too weak to set up a military force to counter the M-23 north of Goma. Add to that that the South-African army depends on the Rwandan army (RDF) in Cabo del Gado – Mozambique not to be put in its underpants and the picture becomes complete. Kinshasa is running out of options now: the attitude of the new Kenyan president about the ongoing problems in the Kivu’s is unknown. As we speak the war between the M-23 and the FARDC is flaring up again: both parties accuse each other to have started this. Many analysts believe that Tshisekedi is convinced that only a bigger scale war in which the RDF will sweep into the DRC can solve his problem and to delay the upcoming elections. Some very high up officials in Rwanda told me that it will not be necessary to send in the RDF to solve this problem and that Tshisekedi already trapped himself in a web of contradictions, lies, hatred and incompetence. And the harder he shouts and the more he tries to wiggle his bum to free himself the less air he’ll have to breed.

I already summed up most of the arguments to back up this point of view in previous articles. Blinken’s visit to Congo and to Rwanda clearly did not have the effect on things that Tshisekedi had hoped for. On the contrary! The Americans made it clear that Congo’s minerals were more important to them and that the Congolese would have to clean up their dirty kitchen via peace talks in Luanda and in Nairobi. Even the leaked report from the UN experts about Rwanda’s involvement with the M-23 lacked credibility given the fact that the UN is equally responsible for the ongoing crisis and that the organization was urgently looking for arguments to sustain its presence in the area.

Biggest blunder

But the biggest blunder that Tshisekedi pulled out of his sleeve recently was the acceptance of the Burundian army on Congolese soil. There was already talk that the Burundian army would take part in a possible East-African intervention force to counter the M-23 rebels and that a Burundian general would be put in charge of logistics in this force. Everybody was waiting for the outcome of the elections in Kenya to see how this could be organized. The new president did not pronounce himself yet on this topic.

Everybody knows as well that the Burundian army was already present in South-Kivu before the official announcement in Kinshasa was made. Mainly to counter the Burundian rebel group Red Tabara that had set up camps there. The first credible reports showed that many Burundian soldiers were killed during the fighting. Another important factor is the poor state of the Burundian army: the Hutu extremist regime in Bujumbura is nearly bankrupt and the country lost a lot of international support. The army is badly equipped and consists largely of very badly trained Imbonerakure. These Imbonerakure are the Burundian equivalent of the Rwandan FDLR and several reports show us that they also have FDLR elements in their ranks. Recently a Burundian human rights group published a report that several Imbonerakure who were sent to Congo already started complaining that they lacked the skills to fight well. Other sources tell us that the Burundian forces are not of very badly paid and resort to looting and rape. Although some Banyamulenge militiamen, such as the Gumino, are known to fight under the same banner as the Burundian army the Imbonerakure are a direct treat for the larger Tutsi community in South-Kivu. If the Burundian forces would be integrated into a possible East-African Force this could only result into an even bigger mess with the Imbonerakure linking up with their FDLR blood brothers and with the M-23 that will be highly motivated to kill as many of them as possible. By allowing the Burundians to enter Congo and to let them fight other proxy rebel forces Tshisekedi can only have one goal and that is to create an even bigger chaos. The international community should take note of this and restrain itself of financing this madness. The Burundian army is so bad that it had its ass whipped in Somalia by Al Shabab. In the Central African Republic, the same thing would have happened if the RDF would not have stepped in to save them. By allowing the Imbonerakure already in to Congo before the East African Union put a viable plan on the table Tshisekedi put himself another .50 cal bullet in his foot.


With the probable impotence of the Alliance of South-African countries (SADC) in mind when it will come to a military intervention in the Kivu’s Tshisekedi is using his last political ammunition to find reliable partners who are willing to support his anti-Rwandan narrative. This fact is crystal clear but nobody reacts. It wouldn’t surprise us to see Tshisekedi step into a plane that will fly him to Moscow or to Beijing very soon but that will not be the solution for peace in the region either. The so called ‘democratic’ and softer voices in the DRC, such as Dennis Mukwege or the people from LUCHA, claim that foreign interventions must be stopped at once and that the country needs a disciplined and better organized army. They are right in this assessment but at the same time also very naïve: the entire rotten foundation of the country would have to be replaced and to do that the building on it first will have to be flattened. Such a process can take years and the fat cats who are steering this anarchy out of their lush offices and mansions in Kinshasa, Lubumbashi and Goma will try to block it. Well informed outsiders know that replacing Tshisekedi by other politicians such as Kabila, Fayulu, Katumbi or Bemba will not solve this problem on the long run. It will not help the situation of the people in the neighboring countries who are trying to protect their own economies and their own safety. Congo is already imploding on itself but nobody has the guts to admit this. Only the Congolese themselves are responsible for this. To shovel all that shit into the shoes of a little country such as Rwanda would be factual and intellectually incorrect. And where will this end? Nobody knows………….

President Tshisekedi has been accusing Rwanda of supporting M23 but Rwanda repeatedly refuted the allegations.