Painting by Cheri Samba

Lokuta eyaka na ascenseur, kasi vérité eyei na escalier mpe ekomi. Lies come up in the elevator; the truth takes the stairs but gets here eventually. - Koffi Olomide

Ésthetique eboma vélo. Aesthetics will kill a bicycle. - Felix Wazekwa

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Mende takes a stand against MONUC

Lambert Mende, the inimitable Congolese minister of information, is anything but understated. A few days ago, he seized on the Easter Mbandaka attack, during which a small band of rebels killed two civilians and ten members of the security forces, to lambaste the UN peacekeeping mission. He accused them of having done nothing when rebels killed a trader right under their noses. He compared this to their inaction during the Kiwanja massacre of 150 civilians in November 2008, during which MONUC also stood by and did nothing. A bit of a stretch, Lambert.

But the reason for his vitriol is obvious: His government wants MONUC out, wants desperately to tell the country on June 30, the 50th anniversary of its independence, that it can take care of any security problems itself. Mende is quite an orator, it's worthwhile reproducing part of his speech:
These events remind us of the discourteous mockery of those who, in our country but above all abroad, call without scruples for the maintenance and prolongation of MONUC's mandate in our country....[Their] speech is seasoned with miserablism that appeals to the interest of the "poor Congolese," without any doubt too "poor" to live in freedom and dignity.

It is time to remind these "friends" that one cannot pretend to help a people while trampling its dignity. Instead of trying to seize real power in the Congo in the place of the state, ostensibly to help the Congolese, it would be good once and for all to listen to the Congolese who tell you, together with the thinker John Holloway: "In your way of acting or not acting for us, refrain from alienating those in whose name your say you are engaging. Don't do anything for us. We will do it ourselves."


Alex Engwete said...

Lambert Mende always reminds me of one conversation of my parents.

MY MOM: How come they call that guy a doctor though he doesn't treat people?

MY DAD: Suzanna, He's not that kind of doctor...

MY MOM: He treats animals then?

MY DAD: No, he treats words. He's a doctor of words.

MY MOM: A doctor of words!!! A country of thieves and crooks! While they steal, they send doctors of words to blind us! May Jesus bring us back our good Flemish. They whipped us, for sure, but the postal service worked!

Tony said...

Mende said: " Il convient de noter que le petit port fluvial privé de Bankita est situé à proximité du QG de la MONUC à Mbandaka. Un poste de guet servi par une mitrailleuse se trouvait monté sur une guérite surplombant le port à moins de 30 mètres du débarcadère au moment du débarquement bruyant des assaillants. Roger Mongapa, Gérant du bateau MB Bozengo qui se trouvait sur le même quai, leur demanda, alors qu'ils débarquaient, de ne pas marcher sur des sacs de braises constituant sa cargaison.
Il fut abattu par les assaillants, au nez et à la barbe du contingent de la MONUC qui n'est pas intervenu,"
This can be true or it can be a lie. But when you say this is a lie, you should prove it.
Then another thing: Monuc has a budget for military activities of 550 million dollars. The defense budget of the Congolese government is 230 million dollars. But the Monuc has 20.000 soldiers, where the FARDC has 150.000 or so soldiers. Plus: when it comes to a fight against agressors or warlords, it is the FARDC who should do the fighting. Where is the logic?

Jason Stearns said...

I have no quarrel with with Mende's allegation that MONUC didn't intervene to stop the killing of a civilian. As you say, it could be true or it could be a lie; I don't know. What I think is a stretch is comparing this to the CNDP's massacre of 150 civilians in Kiwanja in November 2008 within earshot of MONUC.

MONUC has many flaws; above all, it has failed to live up to its mandate to protect civilians in imminent danger (although this is far from simple). The Congolese government, whose mandate it to serve the population, has failed to do the same and has actively brutalized the population in many parts of the country. Each organization should be held accountable for its flaws based on its mandate and capacity.

Tony said...

Who will hold accountable the MONUC for his flaws? The MONUC itself?
I hope I can convince my boss that I can evaluate my own work myself and i don't need an evaluation of a third person.
In the special report from the MONUC of 7 septembre 2009, one can find among an avalanche of words that must hide the incapacity of the MONUC at Kiwanja the next phrases : "Il y a eu une absence de communication effective entre la composante militaire de la MONUC et les responsables de la société civile à Kiwanja, due en partie aux barrières culturelle et linguistique."
"La base de la MONUC a dit avoir entendu des tirs dans l’après-midi du 5 novembre et a remarqué qu’un nombre important de personnes se rendaient au camp pour se mettre à l’abri, mais elle n’a pas pu distinguer s’il s’agissait de combats ou d’exécutions, qui ont été pour la majeure partie commis à la mi-journée. Apparemment, le personnel militaire de la MONUC pensait que les combats continuaient. Une meilleure communication avec la population et une meilleure compréhension des types de violation des droits de l’homme auraient pu améliorer cette connaissance suffisamment pour que la MONUC patrouille durant le massacre, mais, étant donné la proximité de la plupart des exécutions des combats, il n’est pas clair si les soldats de maintien de la paix auraient pu savoir quand les combats s’étaient transformés en tueries et savoir comment et quand intervenir. Le personnel militaire de la MONUC a patrouillé dans la zone concernée dans l’après-midi et a découvert un certain nombre de corps." pp 11-12

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