One of the major reasons the Democratic Republic of Congo has been embroiled in recurrent conflicts and insecurity is because the International Community has pretended to be involved without actually being involved – by making half-hearted decisions that have largely left the situation worse.
The other fundamental problem is that the International Community assumes that Congo has committed leadership whose only weakness is the “meddling of neighbors in its affairs.” That is why they are quick to condemn Rwanda whenever conflicts erupt.
By making this erratic and dangerous assumption, the International Community excuses itself from the rigors of having to zoom in to see the extent of the damage and the root causes of that damage. It has rather chosen the hands-free management of DR Congo issues, yet the magnitude of Congo’s problems needs much more than that. Congo has acute deficiency of leadership, lack of functional institutions and to assume that there could be some kind of obscure powers pulling them away from their responsibilities is just slothful.
In 2013 when the M23 movement which was raising legitimate concerns about the discrimination of Kinyarwanda-speaking Congolese by the DRC government battled the army and captured Goma, the Obama administration believed the Congolese leaders who claimed that the M23 were supported by Rwanda.
The Obama administration arm-twisted Rwanda to intervene so that a peaceful resolution can be struck between the DRC Government and the Kinyarwanda speaking Congolese. However, although Rwanda managed to assist as a regional player, this was construed as admission of being supporters of the M23. The fact that the issue was tackled in this manner is the very reason that the same problem has surfaced bearing all the identities of the previous conflict.
If the International Community’s intention is to help Congo exist as a normal functioning state, they need to be totally engaged and take a closer look to see that Congo’s governance system is in intensive care.
DRC needs a complete overhaul in all governance spheres, starting with the leadership. The International Community must give a break to Congo’s neighbors for a while and engage the Congolese people to create responsible leadership that will be able to steer the country back on track.
Assuming that anything can be achieved by maintaining the status-quo and putting pressure on neighbors will only hurt the entire region further. The International Community has the answers to a better Democratic Republic of Congo, all it has to do is to make a commitment to address the root causes of the recurring problems.