Background to the study
In the past decades, Africa experienced considerable economic growth due to a reduction of armed conflicts in a number of countries. Instability has however remained an obstacle to development especially in the Great Lakes Region. According to the UN, in the year 1996 alone, 14 out 53 countries in Africa were afflicted by armed conflict (UNSC Report 1996). The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is one such country that has struggled to offset incessant and recurrent conflicts and has remained on the UN security agenda.
The DRC is a vast country in central Africa which has natural resources in abundance. It is endowed with valuable minerals including diamonds, gold, copper, cobalt, tin and coltan. During the colonial times it was called Belgian Congo as from 1908 to 1960 and was called the Republic of Congo when it became independent. The name was changed again to Democratic Republic of Congo in 1964 before the Mobutu Sese-Seko regime renamed it Zaire in 1971 (Microsoft Encarta 2009). Hochschild (1999) posits that since the time King Leopold II declared Congo his personal fiefdom in 1885 up to the present era, many actors have fought over the exploitation of its natural wealth. This has set the impetus for the struggle for resources in the DRC.
For over a decade, the central African country was ravaged by armed conflict which involved more than nine other African armies in a war which was called “Africa’s First World War” (Prunier, 2009: 181). The war claimed the lives of around 5.4 million (International Rescue Report DRC, 2007). This situation has continued with limited prospects for peace despite international efforts to find resolution. The continued presence of Rwandan forces and other proxies in the eastern provinces of the DRC has also worsened the security situation.
The state and government are characterized by weak and ineffective institutions which tend to permit illicit exploitation of natural resources by both local and external armed groups (International Crisis Group (ICG) (2000). On the other hand, government sanctioned exploitation of natural wealth is also characterized by corruption, fraud, pillage, mismanagement and general lack of transparency, (Human Rights Watch (2005).
The intended reader should be informed that the DRC went through two major wars, which were known as the First Congo War and Second Congo War. The First Congo War broke out on 6 October 1996 emanating from Rwanda’s drive to eliminate bases of Hutu forces who had escaped post-genocide tribunals in 1994. The continued ethnic violence from the ex-Armed Forces of Rwanda (FAR) fighters forced Rwanda to back the Kabila-led Alliance of Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Congo (AFDL) with the hope of securing its own borders and interiors (Moffett, 2009). This venture required the legitimacy and Kigali secured it through Laurent Kabila who was also fighting for recognition in the DRC’s political dynamics. The resultant alliance between Kabila and Kagame toppled Mobutu Sese- Seko who was suspected of harboring fugitives of the Rwanda genocide (Prunier, 2011). The First Congo War ended with the installation of Laurent Kabila as the new president of the DRC but under the control of Rwandan authorities.
The Second Congo War commenced on 2 August 1998 and was sparked by Kabila’s decision to terminate Kinshasa’s military cooperation with Kigali. In this war, Rwanda, in alliance with Uganda invaded the DRC (Kisangani, 2009). Burundi joined the alliance latter, though its operations were not as significant as those of the Rwanda and Uganda. To counter the alliance, Zimbabwe, Angola and Namibia entered the war on Kabila’s side after the DRC had sought for assistance from the SADC bloc. This study is premised on the Second Congo War which the author referred to as the DRC/Rwanda conflict.
The extent of the impact of vested foreign interests on DRC’s stability has remained largely underestimated. At least seventy armed groups, including foreign groups from Rwanda, Uganda and Burundi, are reported to have participated in armed conflict in the eastern Congo (ICG Report 2000). The Second Congo war ended officially in 2003 after the signing of the Lusaka Ceasefire Agreement (LPA).
In view of this background, this study set out to analyze the impact of the DRC/Rwanda conflict on national stability. In total, DRC hosted nine national armies during the Second Congo War of 1998. However, the DRC/Rwanda conflict was selected as a case study because it was observed that root causes of the war had links with the 1994 genocide and other conflicts. Scholars like Prunier (2005) and Kisangani (2000) have written extensively on the DRC conflict, giving invaluable knowledge about origins of the war. The UN Panel of Experts which was established to examine the patterns and legality of exploitation of natural resources in the DRC also covered the dynamics of the war in greater detail. The existing works on the conflict however fell short of revealing the impact of Rwanda’s underlying interests in the DRC which was the purpose of this particular study.
1.2Statement of the problem
The DRC continued to experience cyclic conflicts which claimed and displaced millions of lives, despite having the Lusaka Ceasefire Agreement (LCA) of 10 July 1999. The dynamics and root causes of the conflicts have also remained largely complex, revolving around the interests of external actors. Failure of international and regional mechanisms to prevent Rwanda’s successive invasions of the DRC coupled with the establishment armed ethnic-based proxies has led to the deterioration of human security in the DRC and beyond its borders. While the conflict discourse has remained topical in contemporary literature on conflict transformation, little has been written about the far reaching impact of Rwanda’s pursuit of vested national self-interests in Congo. Most scholars have mainly focused on the superficial and official motivations of Rwanda’s military adventures in the DRC.
The failure has thus proved to be an indicator of the inability by continental conflict transformation mechanisms and scholars alike to acknowledge the role and impact external actors in the DRC’s political dynamics. In view of this conundrum, the knowledge gap that this dissertation sought to fill was to unpack the impact of Rwanda’s invasion in the context of political realism in international relations and national self-interests.
For the DRC conflicts to be resolved amicably there is need to understand the historical linkages of actors in the Great Lakes Region, trace the root causes of the DRC/Rwanda war and most importantly to reveal the underlying reasons why Rwanda ventured into the DRC during the 1998-2007 war. Against this backdrop, this study sought to address the following questions:
What is the impact of vested foreign interests on national stability of DRC?
What is the role of external actors in the recurring DRC conflicts?
What lessons can be drawn from the DRC/Rwanda conflict?
1.3Objectives of the study
In an endeavor to answer the above research questions the study sought:
To analyze the impact of vested foreign interests on national stability of DRC.
To examine the role of external actors in the recurring DRC/Rwanda conflict.
To draw lessons on the causes of the DRC/Rwanda conflict.
Instability in the DRC revolves around vested foreign geopolitical and economic interests of Rwanda in the recurrent conflict.
1.5Significance of the study
Notwithstanding the fact that the DRC conflict has received considerable academic attention, the various arguments proffered have not significantly revealed the underlying factors which have motivated Rwanda to remain directly and indirectly interested in DRC affairs. The impact of vested foreign interests in the conflict as an area of study has not been exhaustively researched on. In view of the foregoing, this study demonstrated that armed invasions of other countries were motivated by vested national self-interests.
The findings of the study will make a meaningful academic contribution towards the existing body of literature on the role of national self-interests on state behavior in the realm of international relations and politics. The dissertation will also enrich the researcher with enhanced skills and knowledge in research work.
1.6Preliminary literature review
This section examines existing literature related to the research question. This allowed the researcher to familiarize with information surrounding the DRC/Rwanda conflict as well as to identify existing knowledge gaps. The intended reader should note that the review of existing literature is continuous in subsequent chapters of this study.
The DRC/Rwanda conflict has attracted the attention of many critical scholars and NGOs with varying ideological and cultural backgrounds. The scholars can be classified under two broad categories. There are those scholars who viewed the conflict from an Afro-centric perspective. On the other hand, Euro-centric writers have also put forward their views pertaining the root causes and dynamics of the cyclic conflict in the DRC.
The major distinction between the two groups of scholars is that, Afro-centric writers are convinced that conflicts in Africa and the DRC have colonial undertones and dynamics. Most of these views have converged on the perspective that the study of these cyclic cannot be confined within the political borders of the DRC. Euro-centric scholars on the other hand posit that the DRC remains on global security agenda and discourse because of lack of democracy, corruption and incompetent leadership.
Kisangani (2012), Prunier (2009), Prunier (2011), Kotze (2002) and many others are some of the scholars that have written extensively on the DRC conflict. These scholars have largely analyzed the historical background to the conflicts and root causes of the conflicts in the DRC. Some of the views are discussed in this section in order to identify gaps for the need of research in the impact of the DRC/Rwanda conflict on national stability.
According to Merriam (1961), the origins of the conflict are closely linked to the Belgian colonial masters who failed to induct its colony into a responsible government and state. In the end, the DRC was vulnerable to interference from powerful countries like the USA and France. Without doubt, Merriam (1961) blames colonial powers for the recurring conflicts in the DRC. It fundamentally true that the DRC conflict is related to colonial legacy among other reasons. However, the knowledge gap is that the author does not acknowledge the weaknesses of the leaders like Mobutu Sese Seko, who was a known puppet leader of the USA during the Cold War era. Notwithstanding this knowledge gap, the work by Merriam is relevant to the study because it provides a strong background to conflicts in the DRC.
Kelly (1993), corroborates Merriam’s views as the scholar reveals how the CIA helped to install Mobutu Sese Seko to power, even though the later failed to specifically identify with Mobutu’s role in DRC conflicts. The author covers extensively the role played by the USA as an external actor in the DRC conflicts. Kelly however only concentrated on one side of the external influence, leaving out the role played by the then USSR during the Cold War especially her relations with Patrice Lumumba. The literature is invaluable because it provides an insight into the dynamics and black box details of the role and impact of powerful actors on Africa’s internal affairs.
There are some scholars who believe that DRC wars were a result of internal dynamics. Kapemba (1999) posits that the DRC conflict is a result of corruption, ethnic marginalization and lack of competent leadership. The author compares leaders who have presided over DRC’s affairs and concludes that “due to the collapse of the state, external actors were able to dictate DRC’s internal affairs” (Kapemba, 1999:87). The author fails of examine the impact of external actors on DRC’s national stability, which is the objective of this study. To his credit however, the author encourages future researchers to explore the extent of the impact of external actors in the conflict.
Resources, Interests and Conflicts in the Great Lakes Region, is an article which examines the relationship between resources in DRC and the conflict. Baregu (2002) considers the DRC war to be a resource war. The author posits that the conflict became “Africa’s First World War” because of the struggle for resources. Baregu goes on to acknowledge the presence of international companies in the DRC conflict. One of the glaring gaps in his work is that he fails to specifically mention the countries of origin of the MNCs. This is a common feature in most of the existing literature on the conflict which becomes a knowledge gap to be filled.
A report by the International Crisis Group (ICG) (2000), entitled “Africa’s Seven-Nation War” refers to the conflict as an “international war fought on DRC soil”. The report extensively criticizes the failures of conflict transformation mechanisms in the DRC. Focus of the report is basically on the agreements signed by various parties in pursuit of enduring peace. The ICG provides very valuable details and insights into the agreements. However, there is a knowledge gap in the relationship between the role of external actors, internal actors and implementation of the peace pacts.
Kagame (2002) views the DRC/Rwanda war as a necessary national response to security threat to Rwanda. The writer argues that ex-Rwandan army personnel (Ex-FAR) posed a security threat to his country, after committing a genocide in 1994 “before escaping to regroup and reorganize under the tutelage of the DRC government” (Kagame, 2002:8). His work covers extensively the pre-colonial period and the time Rwanda invaded DRC. Kagame refers to independence in the region as a “false start”. The subjective views are of the author leaves the intended reader with unanswered questions. For example, Rwanda’s deployment could have concentrated along the borders than reaching the interior, as far as Kinshasa. This is the reason why there is a need for further study in this area. The other area which manifests as a knowledge gap is the reason why Rwanda supported various armed groups in DRC.
Prunier’s (2011) is probably one of the most comprehensive works on the DRC war. With his French background, the Great Lakes Region historian who has crisscrossed Africa for 37 years, shows that he has an in-depth knowledge of the dynamics in the DRC conflict. The writer covers a wide range of subjects, from the Rwanda Genocide to “Africa’s First World War” (Prunier, 2009:87). The only major information gap exists in his failure to expose various MNCs operating in the DRC in support of armed groups.
According to Orwa (1985), the origins of the current DRC conflict can be traced as far back as the period after independence in 1961. Orwa believes the UN and US had a hand in setting up the DRC for a cyclic and conflict-ridden future. He alleges that the military intervention in itself was a violation of the DRC’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. The argument is also based on Cold War discourse which focused on the two divides of communism and capitalism. It is noted however that the author leaves out knowledge gap on the role of other actors. For example, conflicts in the Great Lakes Region are closely linked to the historical and ethnic profiles of the people. The impact of such countries as Rwanda and other armed groups is an area which needs further research.
Owori (2002) asserts that the Rwanda-Uganda alliance in pursuit of natural wealth had a bearing on the DRC conflict. The author believes that Rwanda had a legitimate reason to invade the DRC in pursuit of its national security interests. The existing literature however dwells on the alliance which the author alleges ended up interfering with the affairs of the DRC. It is also clear that the argument accuses Uganda more than it does Rwanda for its complicity in supporting armed groups in DRC, clearly manifesting a bias. There are a number of areas which remain unaccounted for in Owori’s arguments. It is not clear why the author justifies an alliance to invade another sovereign nation-state. The author also believes that Rwanda’s priority was to secure its border with the DRC. This study analyses underlying reasons why Rwanda ventured into the DRC’s borders.
Finally, the existing body of literature failed to comprehensively cover the impact of Rwanda’s vested foreign interests in the DRC. Efforts by previous scholars was only limited to the construction of the DRC conflict narrative premised on superficial reasons of Rwanda’s aggression. This study therefore sought to analyze Kigali’s underlying motivations in the invasion of DRC. The fact that armed groups continued to receive arms and other logistical support in exchange for Rwanda’s freedom of action in illicit economic activities in the Kivu provinces of the DRC justified the aim of this study. Chapters two, three and four attempted to continuously fill in the knowledge gaps in order to meet the objectives of this study.
Political realism theory emerged as the most appropriate tool of analysis in this study. The researcher observed that the number of paradigms that was employed in theorizing the DRC conflict by previous scholars is wide and varied. Several of the theories fell short of accounting for reasons which motivates a state to breach international law in pursuit of national self-interests. For example, the researcher attempted to make use of Kumar Rupesinghe’s conflict transformation model to explain the DRC/Rwanda conflict. According to Rupersinghe (1995:52), there is “a distinction between the rational, problem-solving approach and public process orientated approach to conflict”.
The conflict transformation model could not be used as a tool of analysis because it concentrates on finding a solution to a conflict but fails to account for the behavior of the nation-state in the domain of international relations (IR). The model therefore is more suitable for analyzing internal conflicts than interactions of nation-states. Ntalaja (2002) regards war and conflict as an important part of international politics and IR, even though world politics has changed due to an increase in the importance of international cooperation and institutionalism.
The researcher also attempted to make use of the liberal paradigm as a tool of analysis. The theory however could not fully explain Rwanda’s behavior in view of its known tenets which include the role of international law and cooperation. According to proponents of liberalism, international politics have a positive view of human nature (Sorensen, 2011). Liberal thinking is also closely related to the emergence of the modern constitutional state (Jackson and Sorenson, 2013). This theory therefore regards international politics as cooperative across international boundaries. The theory could not explain Rwanda’s invasion of the DRC in the presence of international law and institutions which could solve the problem.
In view of the above, the study found political realism theory as an appropriate tool of analysis because, “the influence of external actors on internal affairs of another state can better be understood when analyzed through the realist theory” (Morgenthau, 2001:3). In international politics, national interests “provide policy makers with a rational guide to action” (Morgenthau, 1956:223). The key assumptions by proponents of political realism is that “states act in accordance with their interests” (Keohane, 1980:260). Given this view, the realist theory was found to be a suitable tool of analysis. This study therefore will assert that states elect to breach international law if the actions are part and parcel of securing statism, survival and self-help. A detailed application of the theoretical framework underpinning this study shall be examined in Chapter two.
1.8 Research methodology
Research methodology is a generic term which broadly refers to various methods, techniques and procedures that are applied in the process of carrying out a study (Babbie and Mouton, 2001). This entails that the researcher must select the most applicable theories, techniques, and models or paradigms which help to explain and answer the question and phenomenon under study.
The term ‘research approach’ refers to the entire process or research, from conceptualizing a problem to writing the narrative, not simply the methods such as data collection, analysis and report writing Creswell (2007: 249). Yin (2003:20) further reiterates that the research approach is the logical sequence that connects the empirical data to a study’s initial research questions and, ultimately, to its conclusions.
This study adopted the qualitative case study research approach in order to analyse the impact of the DRC/Rwanda conflict of 1998-2007. Welman, Kruger, and Mitchell (2005:52) postulate that when one conducts qualitative research to investigate a research hypothesis or a research question, one collects data from the objects of one’s enquiry in order to solve the problem concerned. The results that are obtained should, therefore, shed light on the tenability of the hypothesis and it should give an indication whether to accept or reject the hypothesis. A crucial element in this connection is the research instrument that one intends to use.
The researcher also opted for qualitative research because it is appropriate for social science problems and is based on flexible and explorative methods. It also enabled the researcher to change the type of data being collected progressively so that a deeper understanding of what is being investigated can be achieved. The approach allowed the study to analyze experiences and impact of the DRC citizenry and beyond as a result of war. Based on this understanding, the research instrument took the form of interview schedules and questionnaires, in addition to the analysis of secondary sources of data.
Primary sources included unpublished material and interviews with selected personnel who are familiar with the DRC/Rwanda conflict. On the other hand, secondary sources of data were reports, defence and security articles/journals, and books.
1.8.2 Target population
A population is a group of potential participants to whom a researcher wants to generalize the results of a study. Welman (2005:52) states that the population is the study object and consists of individuals, groups, organizations, human products and events, or the conditions to which they are exposed. A research problem, therefore, relates to a specific population.
In this context, the researcher selected a number of applicable respondents. These include, ambassadors of the DRC and Rwanda who are seconded to Zimbabwe. The sizeable population of refugees from the Great Lakes Region in Zimbabwe at Tongogara Refugee Camp was also employed as key informants. Additionally, senior officers of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces (ZDF) who participated in the DRC conflict as allies of the government also constituted the target population.
It is impossible to study the whole population. Researchers make use of a sample to select research subjects (participants) who would represent the whole research population. Sommer and Sommer (2007:237) state that the entire group of people or cases of direct interest to the investigation is called the population. The smaller group selected for the study is called the sample. Swetnam (2000: 42) postulates that a sample is, therefore, the subset of a population selected to participate in a research study.
The DRC conflict between 1998 and 2007 involved at least nine African armies. It was therefore not possible to study all the actors, in which case the DRC/Rwanda conflict was selected as a sample/case study.
1.8.4 Sample method
The purposive sample method was selected as the most appropriate method for this research, as the researcher applied knowledge of the research problem to handpick the respondents from those who directly or indirectly experienced the impact of the DRC/Rwanda conflict. There is a close link between the sample method and the target population.
1.8.5 Data collection
Leedy and Ormrod (2005: 85) state that research is a viable approach to a problem only when there is data to support it. In this study, data were generated through primary and secondary sources.
The researcher made use of semi-structured interview schedules and first-hand accounts on the DRC war to collect primary data. These instruments were appropriate for this study because the researcher knew in advance exactly what needed to be known and was flexible enough to frame appropriate questions to obtain the needed information.
Interview guides for members of various embassies in Zimbabwe were very instrumental and the questions were open ended which were personally administered by the researcher. The respondents were briefed beforehand on the objectives of the research study. It was also realized that the interviews were flexible and the researcher could also explain and expand on the questions, in case they were not clear to respondents. As Kumar (2005:123) noticed, the informal interviews had an advantage over other methods because “respondents are always encouraged to talk freely about the subject, but kept on key issues of interest to the researcher”. Interviewees were selected from the following groups:
Members of staff at the DRC embassy in Zimbabwe.
Senior officers of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces.
Refugees from the Great Lakes Region in Zimbabwe.
A total of 23 refugees were interviewed at the Tongogara Refugee Camp and they are from three Great Lakes Region countries. These included Rwanda, DRC and Burundi. Of these 23, eight were from Rwanda, twelve (12) from the DRC and three (03) from Burundi. At first it was difficult to convince the respondents that the study was purely academic, and not a cross-border witch-hunt. Their presence under the refugee-status in Zimbabwe was enough evidence of the dire consequences of the instability in the Great Lakes Region. For the refugees, questionnaires were distributed through the use of trusted custodians of the Tongogara Refugee Camp. In total, 126 questionnaires were distributed of which 96 were filled in and returned.
Eleven (11) officers of the ZDF gave insights into the Second Congo War. Since the researcher could not secure the views of the RPF, interviews with the ZDF could be used to evaluate how they viewed the Rwandan forces during Operation Sovereign Legitimacy (OSL). Two (02) officials at the DRC Embassy in Harare were also interviewed. It was
Secondary sources played a key role in this research. Key material which were used in this study include the following:
Defence and security journals.
Scholarly journals and books.
The researcher made use of comprehensive reports compiled by several NGOs and IOs. These include ICG (Africa) and the UN. The reports were helpful and satisfactorily accurate since some statistics came about as a result of estimates.
1.8.6 Data analysis
Leedy and Ormrod (2005: 150) argue that there is usually no single method which can be employed to analyze data in qualitative research. Generally, the researcher may start with a body of information and through inductive reasoning and sort it in order to be able to prune it to abstract themes. Kripperndorff (1980), on the other hand views data analysis as analytical consideration of data gathered by the researcher. The two scholars do not have a point of agreement in their definitions but only agree on the fact that there is no single way to analyze data.
This study used discourse analysis to draw conclusions and verify meaning from the gathered data. Therefore, data gathered from both primary and secondary sources was organized into manageable themes, analyzed and presented as findings using appropriate graphs and tables.
The researcher chose discourse analysis as a method of analyzing data. It was found appropriate because in this form of research “scholars are paying greater attention to issues of epistemology such as the process by which the social world is constructed and consolidated” (Burnham, 2008:249-250). Discourse analysis focusses attention on the role that language, texts, conversations, the media and academic research have in the process of creating institutions and shaping behavior (Phillips and Hardy, 2002).
In view of this, the researcher noticed that recurrent themes of violence in the DRC reproduced meaning and everyday assumptions of society in the DRC and the Great Lakes Region as a whole. Discourses therefore frame and constrain given courses of action. Howarth (2000) supports this view and believes that discourse theory begins with the assumption that all objects and actions are meaningful and that their objectives are a product of historically specific conditions hence its applicability in this study.
The DRC went through two phases of the war namely the First DRC War (1997) and Second DRC War (1998-2007) which involved at least nine African armies especially during the Second Congo War. However, the scope of this study was limited to the impact of Rwanda’s vested foreign interests in the DRC during the 1998-2007 period.
During the course of the study, the researcher encountered limited access to security related information. In the cases where the researcher to interact with participants of the DRC conflict there were also possibilities of bias among interviewees. This was common at the embassies and members of the defence forces. This constraint did not compromise on the attainment of research objectives. The researcher had to make comparative analysis with secondary sources of information relating to the DRC conflict. Additionally, careful selection of the target population managed to attain the objectives of the study.
This study assumed that the intended reader is aware that soon after the Second Congo war (1998-2003), UN-mandated observers were deployed to oversee the disengagement of forces concurrently running with the Inter-Congolese Dialogue facilitated by Sir Ketumile Masire.
The reader might also be aware that currently (2018) the security situation in eastern DRC has remain under the spell of armed groups supported by Rwanda. The continued presence of armed groups, military operations against them, intercommunal violence and an influx of refugees from neighboring countries all contribute to a deterioration in the political, security and humanitarian situation. The study will therefore accord limited attention to the information which the researcher assumed the intended reader might be aware of.
1.12 Ethical considerations
In the conduct of this study, the researcher observed accepted ethical standards. Barnes (1979:16) defines ethical problems as “those that arise when we try to decide between one course of action and another not in terms of expediency or efficiency but reference to standards of what is morally right or wrong”. The researcher was aware of the principle of sensitivity to the confidential nature of the study and rights of the victims of the DRC/Rwanda conflict. Consent was also observed as an operational principle of conduct of interviews and data collection.
The study is divided into five chapters as follows:
This chapter introduces the research problem and serves an introduction to the study. It provides the statement of the problem, objectives, methodology, theoretical framework and examines existing literature on the DRC conflict. Limitations and delimitations are also highlighted in Chapter one.
The chapter presents an overview of the theoretical foundation underpinning the DRC conflict and accounts for its recurrence. This chapter critically reviews the relevant literature and how it relates to the study. Emphasis is placed on the knowledge gaps which the study attempts to fill in. The realist paradigm and Human Needs Theory as they explain the behavior of actors and protagonists in the DRC conflict, provide direction to this chapter and study.
The chapter examines the root causes of the DRC conflict paying close attention to the historical background and the relationship between Congo and the Great Lakes Region. It clears highlights how the genesis of the DRC conflict has regional dimensions, with the effects spilling beyond borders of the locus. The chapter provides the reader with a clear understanding of the regional dimensions of the drivers of the conflict as well as the mechanisms that transformed the seemingly internal strife into regional and continental wars.
Chapter four specifically presents the impact of Rwanda’s interests on DRC’s national stability. The spill-over effects of the conflict in the region and beyond are also examined. There is a clear link between chapters three and four.
In this chapter, results of the research conducted are analyzed and interpreted. The data gathered from secondary sources, interviews and other sources of information were used as the basis of the findings in order to either confirm or reject the existing literature. Findings and conclusions are key in this chapter. Based on the interpretation of the results, this chapter offers recommendations for conflict transformation in order prevent the recurrence of the DRC conflict.
This chapter introduced the research problem, objectives of the study and justified the necessity of the study. The limitations and key assumptions upon which the study is based were also presented. Finally, an overview of the outline chapters of the study was also given. The study now proceeds to provide a theoretical underpinning for the study in the next chapter.
THEORISING THE DRC/RWANDA CONFLICT: THE ROLE OF NATIONAL SELF-INTERESTS IN POLITICAL REALISM PARADIGM
This chapter plays a dual role in this study. First, the chapter presents a theoretical basis which this research uses as a tool of analysis. Chapter one has already highlighted that the study will be guided by the realist paradigm. The chapter also aligns the realist theory with the concept of national self-interests, which is a key driver of political realism.
Second, the chapter provides an overview of the imbedded concepts that this study uses. The chapter describes the terrain of conflict and levels of analysis suitable for the study of the “continental war” (Prunier, 2008:88). These concepts are vital in explaining why the DRC/Rwanda conflict fits into the realm of international relations studies. It is important to place the conflict into context within its regional setting. As already highlighted above, the realist paradigm forms the basis of this study while the human needs theory (HNT) is a conflict model which was included herein for the purpose of showing how the elite and powerful politicians take advantage of the marginalized groups in pursuit of personal interests and power. For example, Rwanda found an ally in Kabila during the First Congo war because Kagame believed the rebel leader had grievances against the Mobutu regime. Their cause for rebellion was therefore developed at the backdrop of the HNT. During the Second Congo war, Rwanda identified allies in the form of Congolese Tutsis and ex-FAZ (Mobutu-era troops) soldiers who were then sponsored to spearhead the anti-Kabila rebellion.
2.2Terrain of conflict and level of analysis
There are different approaches to the study of war in general within the context of political realism and national interests within the realm of IR. African wars are unique; they cannot be understood using state centric perspectives. Barkawi (2006) believes that many of the continent’s armed conflicts take place on the peripheries of or outside, the African society of states and do not involve government soldiers. (Williams, 2016:42) corroborates this when he asserts that “war exists in a symbiotic relationship with society: wars shape society but societies also influence the shape of wars”. In view of the aforesaid, it is observed that conflicts within member states of the Great Lakes Region influence the socio-political relationships in these countries.
The terrain of conflict on which African wars have been waged is multi-levelled and encompass a variety of actors, structures and processes. Buzan (1995:22) explains that, within the IR level of analysis the problem is generally thought to revolve around “how to identify and treat different types of location in which sources of explanation for observed phenomena can be found”. In this context, Williams (2016) brings to the fore four levels of analysis in Africa’s armed conflicts which are summarized and explained in Table 2.2 below:
Table 2.2Terrain and levels of analysis in Africa’s armed conflicts
Level of analysis Description
Local Relations between individuals and their immediate sub-state politico-geographic context
National Focused on the institutions of state power
Regional Geographically coherent, sub-global security complexes which involve the agents of at least two states
Global De-territorialized networks, structures, processes, institutions, or belief systems (with the potential to global in scope)
Source: Williams (2016)
This study employed the regional level of analysis. It was the most appropriate level of analysis because the problem area revolves around the impact of a foreign state and its agents on DRC’s national stability. The DRC/Rwanda conflict involved at least nine African countries from central and southern regions of Africa. Buzan (1991:38) has thus observed that “since the end of the Cold War, regional developments have been identified as crucial for understanding contemporary security dynamics in Africa and elsewhere”. The incoherence between the processes of warfare and Africa’s political borders helped form a series of “regional security complexes” characterized by “durable patterns” of amity and enmity taking the form of sub-global, geographically coherent patterns of security interdependence (Buzan and Waever 2003:88).
The study therefore found out that conflict between DRC and Rwanda is a typical regional conflict. It assumed many forms, but one of its common variants have been government forces of Rwanda crossing into neighboring states to eliminate rebel bases and supply lines. Williams (2016:48) adds that the reason for the pursuit includes “intimidating countries which give sanctuary to rebels”. In this case, Rwanda invaded the DRC in pursuit of national self-interests. It was however realized that Rwanda and its allies ended up pursuing economic interests which are widely found in the east. This is the reason why Kigali armed and support rebel groups including Rassemlement Conglais pour la Democratie (RCD) and the Mouvement de Liberation du Congo (MLC) (Moffett, 2009).
The DRC/Rwanda war was characteristic of Africa’s regional wars. Williams (2016:49) observes that “the relatively porous state borders evident in many of Africa’s war zones, combined with the inability of many regimes to effectively project power over all their official territory, meant that there were often relatively few impediments to spillover effects or the unwanted interference of external powers”. This study will therefore consider the conflict in question to be a regional conflict and therefore requiring a regional level of analysis since it involved forces from Rwanda, Burundi, Uganda, Zimbabwe, Namibia and Angola.
2.3The realist paradigm as a tool of analysis
The purpose of this section is to analyze the theoretical framework which accounts for the behavior of both nation-state actors and non-state actors in the conflict under study. IR as a subject of study is mainly concerned with accounting for interactions between countries, including the activities International Organizations (IGOs), Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) and Multi-National Corporations (MNCs) (Jackson and Sorenson 2013).
States are the most important actors in IR and they value relative over absolute gains. Most states are friendly, non-threatening and peace-loving (Jackson and Sorenson 2013). But some states are hostile and aggressive and there is no world government to constrain them, posing a problem of state systems especially national survival. Among the theories which best explain the behavior is the realist paradigm. In this study, Rwanda’s interference in DRC’s internal affairs can better be explained when analyzed through the political realism paradigm, which accepts the violent behavior of nation states by its focus on the role of power.
Scholars trace the intellectual origins of political realism as far back to Thucydides, who chronicled the Peloponnesian Wars (Griffiths and Roach, 2014). Carr and Morgenthau are known to be crucial figures to the development and application of the term “realism”. The two posited that there was no harmony of interests among states and that it was “foolish and dangerous to hope that the struggle for power among states could be tamed by international law, democratization and international commerce” (Griffiths, 2008: 292). This is explained by Jackson and Sorenson (2013:66) who outline the basic realist ideas and assumptions as “pessimistic view of human nature, a conviction that international relations are necessarily conflictual and that international conflicts are solved by war, and high regard for values of national security state survival”. These are the assumptions that have guided the thoughts of most leading realist theorists, including current variants of the theory.
The paradigm values national interests, power, and state survival in explaining international interactions (Clapham, 1996, Zartman, 1967, Heywood, 1997, Hoffman, 1999, Wolpe, 2001, in Maeresera, 2012). This theory implies that nation-states as key actors in international politics may elect to circumvent international law and customs in their pursuit of national self-interests. According to Krasner (1978:89), it is difficult to strike a balance between “responsibility for the consequences of action” and “weighing the consequences” against vital national interests. In the case study, Rwanda invades the DRC claiming to be in pursuit of national security interests. This claim could ordinarily be acceptable if RPF forces were restricted to the border with the DRC. Rwanda’s underlying national interests are witnessed when its forces reach as far as Kinshasa.
In international politics, the vision of the world politics rests on three key assumptions (Mearsheimer 1994). First, realists believe that survival is the critical goal of every nation-state (Slaughter 2011). States as the most important actors in IR, believe that foreign invasion and occupation are thus the most pressing threats that any state faces. In this view, states should always have sufficient power to defend themselves and advance their national self-interests in order to achieve survival.
Second, it is common to realists that states are rational actors. States will always act in the best way of maximizing the existence as actors in international politics. Mearsheimer (1994:99) posits that “showcasing calculated power where necessary is the most rational activity of states” and” power is the currency of international politics and states compete for it among themselves”. What money is to economics, power is to international politics.
Third, all states possess some military capacity because no state knows what is in the offing. States are always suspicious of each other because no state knows what’s its neighbors intends to do. In this context therefore, relations between states in the Great Lakes Region is motivated by the desire for resources and hegemonic influence. Within this framework, the study has employed political realism to explain the behavior of Rwanda in its invasion of the DRC in 1998.
2.4National interests as a foreign policy driver
Vested interests are part of the everyday usage in IR language and international politics. In this study, the phrase vested interests is used to denote national interests. Lerche and Said (1963) define national interests as the general long term and continuing purpose which the state and the government all see themselves as serving. Van Dyke (1962) on the other hand sees national interests as an interest which the state seeks to protect or achieve in relation to each other. Morgenthau (1968:86) considers national interests as “the most crucial factor in international politics which largely shapes the actions of the nation-state in their interactions with other states.”
What is not clear in the definitions of national interests is how to define national interests in the context of international law and the role of international institutions. This is the reason why the meticulous pursuit of national interests often leads to breaches of international law. Modern day international politics especially the liberal thinking, relies on cooperation among nation-states especially in conflict resolution. In contrast, Rwanda disregarded the existence of this set up. Its aim was to achieve survival, self-help and maintain statism. It is an acceptable and known “rule” that morality has no place in international politics (Waltz, 1979:195). Like great powers in international politics, Rwanda projected its military capacity in order to manage power politics in the Great Lakes Region.
Morgenthau (1951) and Dinesh (2010) agree that there are several types of national interests. It is however, believed Thomas (2000) is the one who classified national interests into six broad categories; primary, secondary, permanent, variable, general and specific interests. The scope of the research will not expand on individual type of national interests.
With regards to the importance of national interests, Thomas (1997:2) believes that “the foreign policy of a nation must be shaped to uphold its national interests”. Morgenthau (1951:88) goes a step further and lists factors which influence national interests as follows:
Form of government and ideologies.
Customs and socio-cultural values.
Predominant ethnic groups.
Neighboring states and relations.
During the Rwanda genocide and the period after, it was observed that Kagame as the leader of the RPF influenced Rwanda’s foreign policy especially after assuming the presidency. He believed that the invasion of DRC in 1998 was undertaken in pursuit of national security interests (Kagame 2002). The RPA was in pursuit of ex-Rwandan army personnel (Ex-FAR) who posed a security threat to the country, after committing the 1994 genocide. Rwanda’s conduct in this conflict was influenced by the leadership factor and geopolitical issues including the historical dynamics in the Great Lakes Region. These factors are also reinforced by a nation’s ambition to dominate politically in a given region as highlighted above. According to one respondent at the Embassy of the DRC in Zimbabwe, Rwanda was motivated by both economic and hegemonic interests. This was also supported by one senior officer of the ZDF who elected to remain anonymous for ethical reasons.
Prunier (2009:134) corroborated with the above interviewees and highlighted that “the main force driving this conflict has been the largely Tutsi army of neighboring Rwanda, along with several Congolese groups supported by Rwanda”. In contrast, pro-Rwanda scholars like French (2009) argue that the reason for Rwanda’s involvement is the continued threat to Rwanda posed by the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), a Hutu militia that includes remnants of the army that carried out the 1994 Rwanda genocide. A detailed analysis of Rwanda’s vested interests is presented in Chapter two.
2.5Political realism and national interests in the DRC/Rwanda conflict
The relations between DRC and Rwanda can best be described as befitting the nature of relations in the political realist world. At the heart of the DRC conflicts was the unfinished ten-year old Rwandan civil war (Prunier, 2009). The conflict that began with the 1990 assault of the predominantly Tutsi RPF against the regime of the Hutu President Habyarimana, resulted in the 1994 genocide and subsequent RPF conquest of the country (ICG Africa Report 2000). After their defeat, the forces of the former regime fled to Eastern Congo, from where they continued their war against newly installed Tutsi-dominated government. In 1996, Rwanda invaded the DRC in an attempt to secure a victory in its war against troops of the former Hutu government, which were reorganizing in refugee camps along the two countries’ border. In August 1998, Rwanda invaded DRC again, in support of rebels against Kabila’s government and advanced into the interior with the intention of capturing Kinshasa. Apparently, the rebels had already taken control of much of the mineral rich east DRC close to Rwanda. These activities were motivated by self-interests at personal and national level, justifying the application of the realist theory in this study.
Owing to the above driving motivations Rwanda did not see anything wrong with its invasion of the DRC. Schonberg (2003:67) asserts that “the formulation of national interests is synonymous with the formulation of foreign policy”. This therefore means that the pursuit of a national interest is the same as the strategic fulfilment of set foreign policies. Morgenthau (1951: 40) weighs in and notes that “those bestowed with the responsibility to formulate a foreign policy must also bear the moral obligation to defend the dictates of national interests”. Kagame (2002) in this case corroborates and defends Rwanda’s ventures into the DRC. He argues that ex-Rwandan army personnel (Ex-FAR) posed a security threat to Rwanda, after committing a genocide. There is however no explanation as to why Rwandan soldiers went as far as Kinshasa instead of monitoring the DRC border.
In view of the foregoing discussion, one can therefore conclude that decisions pertaining foreign policy goals and national interests are not based on meticulous scientific calculations. Aron (2003:91-92) believes that decisions on national interests are a result of conflicting morals, wills and ambitions. The presence of Rwandan troops in the DRC violated Congo’s sovereignty and independence and breached international law. This is the reason why realists agree that there are no issues of morality in international politics. It should however be noted that every theory has its fair share of academic criticism.
2.6Criticism of the realist theory in international politics
The dominance of realism as a theory used to explain state behavior was heavily criticized by other scholars especially during the second half of the twentieth century. Critics of realism believe that the pursuit of national security interests can best be achieved by its application (Maeresera, 2012). Waltz (2000) describes power as “a means rather than an end in an anarchic international system”. Jackson and Sorenson (2013: 90) believes “substantial literature that criticizes many of its assumptions and arguments” existed during this period. There are two key criticisms of the theory.
First, criticism regards realism as too narrowly focused (Wight, 2000). Second, there are claims that realism fails to capture the extent to which international politics is a dialogue of different IR voices and perspectives (Wight, 1991). The early critics of realism were without doubt proponents of the international society tradition. These scholars were however not critical of every aspect of realist thought in IR. They acknowledged that classical realism provides an important angle of vision on world politics. It also agreed that power is important and that international theory is some fundamental respects a theory of security and survival. The military decision by Rwanda was linked to attempts by Rwanda to secure economic benefits and its hegemonic dominance in the Great Lakes Region. In the realist context, Rwanda realized that the national interest is an important value in world politics.
Despite the applicability of the realist paradigm to explain Rwanda’s behavior in the context of world politics, it is however noted that the theory has its own weaknesses. The paradigm clearly overlooks other facets of international systems. Even though international politics is anarchical, without any sovereign government, the role of regional and global institutions cannot be totally undermined. Wight (1991:91) also believes that “states are not only in conflict, they also share common interests and observe common rules which confer mutual rights and duties”.
Realism also ignores other important actors such as non-state actors. In the DRC conflict the actions of Rwandan soldiers on refugees were censored by the International Red Cross Society (IRCS) and other NGOs. This had an effect of Kigali’s decisions and activities due to the possibility of sanctions. In view of this, critics conclude that in as much as national interests are important, they are not the only value in world politics. International cooperation and good neighborliness can also be important components of maintaining statism, self-help and survival.
2.7Human needs theory and the scourge of marginalization
The above section accounted for Rwanda’s behavior in its offensive relations with DRC. Africa has witnessed numerous wars as a result of inequality, economic decline, history and state collapse among other root causes of conflict. According to earlier findings, inequality between groups is probably the foremost cause of conflict in Africa (Africa Policy and Economics Department (APED) (2001). This exists on three mutually reinforcing levels namely economic, social and political.
Life is about reaching well-being and humans need certain essentials in order to get fulfillment. These are referred to as basic human needs. Human needs theorists argue that conflicts and violent armed conflicts are caused by unmet human needs (Rosenberg, 2003). Violence occurs when certain individuals or groups do not see any other way to meet their aspirations and needs (Susan, 2003). Violence is therefore a tragic expression of unrealized goals, implying that all actions undertaken by human beings are attempts to satisfy their needs. This study applied the HNT in order to explain how Rwanda managed to manipulate and take advantage of the underprivileged groups in the DRC.
Proponents of the HNT include Burton, Rosenberg and Maslow. In his pyramid of human needs (model), Maslow (1943) emphasizes the hierarchy of needs, indicating that some needs are more important than others. On the base of the pyramid is food, water and shelter. The second level is occupied by the need for a safe environment and security which is seconded by a sense of belonging and love. The need for self-esteem is located on the fourth echelon followed by the final level of personal fulfillment (Susan, 2003). In the DRC, groups and individuals tried to secure these needs at any one time because the population had been deprived of these needs for a long time. This is the reason why it is always easy to form a rebellion owing to the omnipresent cause to fight the government.
Burton (2003) has always tried to apply the theory to current social and political conflicts. The proponent notices that due to their access to education, the elite manipulate issues and dehumanize other parties. In the DRC/Rwanda conflict there is a noticeable abuse of the marginalized groups. Violent armed conflicts in the DRC produced child soldiers, victims of violent sexual abuse and forced labor. Children were also denied opportunities.
2.8Human need theory and the DRC conflict
The HNT was useful in trying to understand violent conflicts. It should be noted that the theory has wide application. Some critics view it as a tool to be applied in prevention or post conflict peacebuilding while practitioners like Rosenberg use it in mediation of violent conflicts (Manfred 2003). Marker (2003) on the other hand notes that HNT as a paradigm reveals that human needs are non-negotiable. This is the reason why groups in a society are not prepared to compromise once their rights and needs are infringed upon. This often leads to violent conflicts which tend to end up cyclic and recurrent. These conflicts have become synonymous with countries in the Great Lakes Region especially Burundi, Central Africa Republic, DRC, Rwanda and Uganda.
The DRC/Rwanda conflict was a result of monopoly of political power over perceived weak ethnic groups which the invader took advantage of. Burton (1987) attempts to give a fundamental view on the origins and perspectives of these types of conflicts. He opines that “conflict is likely to be caused by the need for identity, recognition, security of identity group and other such human, societal values” Burton (1987:87). When expounded in the context of the DRC conflict, the human needs theorists imply the “pursuit of human needs can indeed, lead to disputes and conflicts in circumstances where scarcity of goods, roles or other rewards to satisfy the sought after needs, and where no alternatives are immediately available” (Mitchel 1990:150). The theorists go on to posit that, “the successful and final resolution of any conflict must involve satisfying those needs of the parties involved that are being frustrated by existing conditions and relationships. Conflict in the DRC, in addition to other root causes, was a result of human conflict centered on the concept of “aggressive man”, “power-seeking man”, “rationally calculating”, “economic man” or “Hobbesian”, “Lockean” as a starting point (Burton 1990).
Even though it is known that the immediate cause of the Second DRC war was as a result of the termination of the Kinshasa/Kigali military cooperation, the DRC society was already ripe for conflict. For example, the anti-Kabila forces, presented the new war not as a “local problem but as a national and patriotic military uprising against an unworthy regime” (Prunier, 2011:181). It manifested as an attempt to correct ethnic imbalances in DRC. The anti-Kabila sentiments were ethnically charged as Prunier (2009:184) recorded below:
On August 16, 1998 the rebels went public as the Rassemblement Congolais pour la Democratic (RCD) and announced the names of their leaders. The politicians were a strange mixture of former Mobutists, such as Alexis Tambwe and Lunda Bululu, together with radical left-wingers (Jacques Depelchin, Earnest Wamba dia Wamba), regional barons (Mbusa Nyamwisi) and well-known representatives of Rwandese interests.
The August 16, 1998 invasion and rebellion was a reflection of the Great Lakes Region ethnic profile. Since time immemorial, hatred and tribal tensions between the Hutu and the Tutsi tribes have been a source of conflict in the Great Lakes Region.
According to Dunn (2003), the DRC is home to many different tribes namely the Twa, Luba, Kongo, Mongo, Bantu, Hema and Lendu. The tribes are as shown on Figure 3.5. Dunn (2003) and Prunier, (2009) believe the Tutsi tribe has been part of the north eastern DRC for centuries but migrated to Rwanda and Burundi, remaining a much dispersed ethnic group among these regions. The Hutu and Tutsi warfare however, was bred in Rwanda and manifested through the 1994 genocide which claimed over 800 000 Tutsis and displaced millions people.
When Kabila assumed power after the fall of Mobutu high hopes and optimism were activated in the Congolese people. They expected the new leader to address corruption, marginalization of ethnic groups and general economic mismanagement which had become synonymous with the Mobutu regime. They were however disappointed by Kabila’s “lack of skills, his handling of the investigation surrounding the massacre of the Hutu refugees, his refusal to introduce reforms, political marginalization of the Tutsis and his failure to diffuse the ethnic tensions in the two Kivu provinces that border Rwanda among other grievances” (Ngolet 2011:90). These grievances were in line with the human need paradigm. Needs theory thus postulates that human development requires the fulfillment of basic human needs such as identity, security, recognition, creativity, control, belongingness, love, choice and self-actuation (Mitchell, 1990: 37).
Kabila worsened the situation by deliberately violating fundamental rights of the Congolese people. On March 22, 1997 he announced while in Kisangani that all “all political parties were forbidden until the end of the war of liberation” (Ngolet 2011). He also declared that the Alliance which he led, would form a transition government that would be in power for one year. This government would include people who never worked for the Mobutu’s regime.
This in general presented the DRC society as oppressed and rife with discrimination. Banks (1984:44) observes that “in conditions of oppression, discrimination and isolation, the defence of values is important to the needs of personal security and identity”. The anti-Kabila rebellion and response by ethnic groups in Kivu provinces was motivated by preservation of values, hence the defensive and aggressive behaviors. Numerous and loose alliances were also formed in pursuit of human needs, with the ultimate aims of protecting self-interests of groups. In view of the instability in the DRC, one can come to the conclusion that the human need theory appropriately accounts for the conflict in the DRC.
2.9Criticism of the human need theory
Like any other theory, the HTN has its own shortcomings. First, Susan (2003:7) asks how “we can really define human needs”. There are discrepancies between the various theorists of the human need theory, even though both Burton and Rosenberg agree that all needs are universal, non-hierarchical and complementary. If a human need is as simple as perceived by the scholars, the DRC conflict would not be classified as cyclic, complex and recurrent. The causes of the conflict are more than the ethnic grievances of the Kivu groups. Evidence have revealed the underlying efforts by Rwanda in pursuit of its national self-interests. In view of this point, not all human needs are as simple as put forward by proponents of the human need theory. One respondent at the Tongogara Refugee Camps has highlighted that people in the Great Lakes Region have never known peace for a long time. According to the respondent, “a conflict in one country always has devastating effects in the next”.
Second, the theory suggests that needs should be prioritized and hierarchal. It is difficult to measure human needs according to priorities and value over other needs. Is Maslow right in asserting that needs for food and shelter should be met before considering needs for self-esteem and self-fulfillment? (Colliers 2003). The grievances in DRC’s Kivu provinces have always been revolving around tribal tensions, land ownership, corruption. These needs cannot be separated from the study of the history of the Great Lakes Region. In any conflict therefore there are no “needs” which are more important than the other. Susan (2003) asks if there is an assurance that needs identified by parties to a conflict are the most important ones. Land ownership in Kivu cannot be more important than life itself. The need to secure one’s tribe identity cannot be superior to security. It should however be known that in international politics there is no morality and national survival security is given more attention than basic human needs.
Finally, there is need for further studies on the validity, applicability and usefulness of the human need theory in today’s armed conflicts. The theory must be able to offer an insight in complex and intractable conflicts which have been going on for decades. The theory should be able to acknowledge the impact of state actors, non-state actors and other variables and factors in the conflict. Nevertheless, the theory remains an important tool in trying to account for the causes and effect of complex conflicts like the DRC war.
The chapter gave a detailed analysis of the theory underpinning the DRC/Rwanda conflict. It played a dual role of accounting for Rwanda’s behavior and giving a conceptual grounding of the conflict in DRC. In addition to the realist theory, the chapter used the human needs theory to explain the conflict and how the elite abused underprivileged members of the society during conflict situations. Strengths and weaknesses of the theories were also discussed. The next chapter will examine the root causes of the conflict with emphasis on the role played by complex socio-political dynamics in the Great Lakes Region.
THE ROOT CAUSES OF THE DRC/RWANDA CONFLICT
The DRC has experienced armed conflict for over fifteen years (Moffet, 2009). It has been difficult for the mineral-rich nation to achieve a smooth transition from colonialism to independent indigenous leadership. Appendix V shows a detailed timeline of critical historical events in the DRC, indicating that she has never known stability. To this day, the DRC has continued to score very low on national income and development global ratings, exposing the country to a high risk of cyclic wars (World Bank Report, 2003).
Further research has proved that most cyclic and recurrent conflicts, (inter-state or intra-state) are usually a result of economic underdevelopment or the distribution of national wealth (Doyle and Sambanis, 2000; Walter, 2004; Quinn, Mason and Gurses, 2007). Gurr (1971) adds that, “othered” groups in any given society are likely to rebel against the authorities whenever they perceive their dire situations as man-made or deliberately designed to annihilate them as a group. These are some of the conditions which have a tendency of preparing a nation for recurrent conflicts. External actors with vested interests also take advantage of disadvantaged groups before they can project their foreign policy objectives.
According to Lemarchand, (1964) and Ndikumana, (2005) the DRC conflicts in the early days of independence were predominantly a result of internal strife. This period was marked by fighting along ethnic lines. The instability was also exacerbated by vested self-interests of actors from beyond the DRC’s borders. This study therefore found out that the cyclic DRC/Rwanda conflict was a reincarnation of the feudal past and interests of foreign players. Most scholars who have examined conflicts in the DRC have accepted that the Great Lakes Region is known for armed conflicts (Prunier, 2009). They have however failed to provide a link between colonial events, geopolitics and current events. The impact of the DRC/Rwanda conflict can only be examined if the root causes are examined and appreciated.
This chapter will content that the causes of instability in the DRC is not just Rwanda’s invasion. The fundamental causes of the conflict include colonial legacies, ethnic cleavages, Rwanda’s pursuit of national self-interests especially in DRC’s Kivu provinces, Great Lakes Region geopolitics and the failure of regional mechanisms. Walter (2010) has thus concluded that most of the recurring conflicts which were witnessed in the century took place in fragile states and have been always been a remaking of a previous conflict. Prunier (2009:55) describe these conflicts as “fluid in nature and rarely has a defined front line and is frequently opportunistic rather than strategic”.
3.2Overview of the conflict
This section presents an overview of the DRC/Rwanda conflict in order to provide a basis for subsequent analysis. The section also provides key features of the DRC’s geopolitics in the Great Lakes Region in relation to the impact of the conflicts beyond its borders. Prunier (2011:181) has called the DRC conflicts, a “continental war”. It is also known as “war of resources” Turner, (2013: 12).
The DRC/Rwanda conflict was a direct result of the 1994 genocide (French, 2009). After Kagame had consolidated power in Rwanda his Tutsi dominated forces invaded the DRC through North and South Kivu provinces in the east. The invasion came at the backdrop of fleeing Hutu dominated ex-Rwanda defence forces (the Interahamwe) who had committed atrocities in Rwanda. The UN accepted the fleeing Hutus as refugees and were allocated camps in the Kivu provinces (Snow, 2004). Given the ethnic profile in the Great Lakes region it was easy for them to identify with fellow Congolese Hutus.
It should be remembered that Rwanda had participated in the First Congo War against Mobutu Sese Seko, who had ruled the DRC for more than three decades, from 1967 to 1997. The study found out that even though Kabila’s rise to power came about as a result of the support from Rwanda and Uganda (Prunier, 2009). This does not imply that Rwanda and Uganda’s primary objective was to remove Mobutu from power. The two countries were responding to the repeated threats posed by ethnic rebel groups operating within the DRC and were frustrated by Mobutu’s complicity. He allegedly failed to deal with the armed groups, hence the invasion of the DRC was premised on grounds of “national security interests” (Arimatsu and Mistry, 2012:8).
As expected, the Kabila/Rwanda military cooperation did not last for long owing to conflicting interests. In the realist paradigm and international politics, there are “no permanent enemies but interests” (Morgenthau, 1956: 53). French (2009:3) believes that Rwanda as a “small, densely populated country with few natural resources chose to pursue the DRC’s mineral wealth”. It should be recalled that during the period of the 1994 genocide the RPF directly operated mining businesses in eastern Congo in order to support its revolution in Rwanda (UN, 2004).
The key linkman in this illicit activities was one Laurent Nkunda, who was later sponsored to establish and lead the M23 rebels in the period following the official end of the DRC/Rwanda conflict. According to the Human Rights Watch, he committed numerous atrocities including the killing of 160 people (HRW, 2004). The Rwanda/Nkunda relationship increased international scrutiny of Rwanda meddling in the eastern DRC.
According to the UN (2009), Rwandan authorities were guilty of recruiting children as soldiers, supplying military equipment to rebel groups and had also seconded its own military officers to aid in the establishment of illegal rebel movements. It was also discovered that the rebel movements initially operated from Rwandan soil. Kagame in the end ordered the arrest of Nkunda even though it was already concluded that Kigali had underlying interests in the DRC other than the pursuit of Hutu fugitives leading to severance of ties between Kabila and Kagame. In view of the arrest, it can also be concluded that Rwanda the arrest was only a face saver but Nkunda had already played his role of advancing the economic interests of Kigali.
The end of the cooperation signaled the beginning of the DRC/Rwanda conflict, Second Congo War (1997-2003), which is a subject of this study. During this war, the DRC was backed by SADC through Angola, Namibia and Zimbabwe while Rwanda had the support of Uganda and Burundi. What is important to note here is that conflict in the DRC has always been as a result of a series of conflicts organized in neighboring countries.
According to International Crisis Group (2000:1), the eastern provinces of the country was transformed into “a patchwork of warlords’ fiefdoms” led by the RPA, violating the territorial integrity of the DRC in the process. On the other hand, UNSC concluded that the war was fought over minerals and other strategic resources even though there was enough evidence of security threats for Rwanda (UNSC Report 2002). The protracted war and inconclusive conflict marked a catastrophic decade of violence that has led to 5.4 million deaths, (Williams 2009). This is the reason why the DRC war falls in the category of war of vested interests and resources.
The belligerents eventually agreed to a Lusaka Peace Agreement of 1999 after reaching a stalemate. A UN observing and peacekeeping force (MONUC) was established which was preceded by the withdrawal of foreign troops. As external troops were withdrawn, fighting intensified in the eastern provinces of Kivu warlords and rebel groups who were not part of the negotiations, raising sincerity issues on the part of those who were giving them logistical support.
One of the most complex question regarding the cyclic conflict in the DRC is the question of periodization. Scholars and NGOs alike have often attributed the conflict to ethnic differences, corruption and poor governance. Global media reports on Africa have thus reinforced only negative stereotypes about the conflicts on the continent without bringing out underlying geopolitical and strategic interests of foreign actors. At the heart of these images is a portrayal of an inferior continent which in the view of Eurocentric scholars require the West to superintend over. Scholars and policy makers have by and large narrowly classified the DRC in terms of territorial boundaries even it is clear that the conflict transcend and defy national boundaries. Subsequent sections of this study trace both underlying and superficial causes of the DRC conflict.
3.3The break-up of the DRC/Rwanda-Uganda alliance
Having been assisted by the Rwandese to topple Mobutu, Laurent Kabila attempted to shake off the Kagame-puppet tag. According to Arimatsu and Mistry (2012:8), “within months of Kabila’s inauguration the cordial relations between Kabila, Museveni and Kagame had dissipated”. This was the immediate cause of the DRC/Rwanda war. According to the ICJ (2002) the DRC made it official on 28 July 1998:
The Supreme Commander of the Congolese National Armed Forces, the Head of State of the Democratic Republic of Congo…advises the Congolese people that he has just terminated, with effect from this Monday 27 July 1998, the Rwandan military presence which has assisted us during the period of the country’s liberation. Through these military forces, he would like to thank all of the Rwandan people for the solidarity they have demonstrated to date…This marks the end of the presence of all foreign military forces in the Congo.
The official announcement was full of diplomatic tones. It misguided the public pertaining the deteriorating relations between Kinshasa and Kigali. Kagame believed Kabila was “no longer honoring his promise on securing their security interests” (Prunier, 2008:34). Weiss and Carayannis (2005) point out that the leaders who had been most responsible for supporting Kabila into power were also dissatisfied with his performance. Laurent Kabila on the other hand believed that Rwanda was in the “process of organizing a coup to topple his newly installed government” (Prunier, 2008:35-36). Behind official circles, Kabila also alleged that the countries were involved in illicit transfer of land, natural resources and local industries in addition to instigating for a military coup (Arimatsu and Mistry, 2002). After the official announcement, Kabila ordered all foreign troops out of the DRC. This abrupt shift had a damaging effect on the Kinshasa-Kigali bilateral relations. Marjolein de Ridder (2013) observed that, following the decision by Kabila, Congolese Tutsi soldiers stationed in the east mutinied and more of Rwanda’s military units invaded the border to support the insurrection.
The Kivu rebellion with its external undertones, was a catalyst for the Second Congo War, drawing more than nine national armies for various vested interests. The anti-Kabila forces, presented the war not as a “local problem but as a national and patriotic military uprising against an unworthy regime” (Prunier, 2011:181). The mutiny from the onset was not limited to fighting in Bukavu, Goma and Baraka. There were also clashes in Kindu and Kisangani (UNEC Report 2015). The presence of the RPA and UPDF in the eastern DRC provinces also worsened the security situation and fueled ethnic rivalry.
There is need to explain the coordinated actions between the rebellious Congolese soldiers and troops from Kigali. When Kabila ended the military cooperation with Rwanda, the Rwandese and Banyamulege leaders, decided to back a rebel group known as Rally of Congolese for Democracy (RCD), led by Wamba Dia Wamba The situation was worsened by the coming in to the scene of the Uganda backed Movement for the Liberation of Congo (MLC), whose leader was Jean Pierre Bemba. Within a short period of time the rebels controlled the eastern and northern parts of the country, accounting for over 50 % of the national territory (Equipo Argentino de Antropologia Forense 2002).
In view of the above scenario, it was obvious that the rebels and Rwanda could not plan such a major political and military operation overnight and execute with such spontaneity. It should be remembered that during the military cooperation, one of the Rwandese commanders who was seconded to the Congo national army had had the opportunity to influence the composition of the Armed Forces of Congo (FAC). According to Prunier (2009:182) Colonel Kabarebe had “used his position as commander in chief of the FAC to modify the ethnic composition of some of the army units in the east, especially the 10th Battalion and the 222nd Brigade, so as to have a majority of favorable forces”. Such decisions could not take place without future intentions, meaning that Rwanda had long been preparing for further. The signs of a strong political organization with a military arm backed by Rwanda were too open to ignore.
In response to the rebellion which Kabila was not prepared for, Kinshasa appealed to the SADC for assistance. This was followed by a series of meetings and conferences which was quick to categorize actors in the conflict as “aggressors” and “allied forces.” The termination of DRC/Rwanda military cooperation therefore was recorded as the immediate cause of the major conflict. The strong link between the war and geopolitics of the Great Lakes Region should also be noted here. The following sub-section provides this relationship.
3.4Geopolitical linkages of the conflict
The genesis of the DRC/Rwanda conflict had regional dimensions, with the effects spilling beyond borders and from different locus. As a result, the Great Lakes has suffered greatly in terms of loss of life, insecurity and shrinking economies. Ntalaja (2002:215) concludes that “no region of African continent has known as much political strife, loss of life and social dislocation as the Great Lakes Region”. In view of this perspective, it is important to understand the concept of geopolitics as well as the mechanisms that transformed the seemingly internal strife into “Africa’s World War” (Prunier, 2009).
Griffiths and Roach (2008:128) define geopolitics as “the study of the influence of geographical factors on state behavior. How location, climate, natural resources, population and physical terrain determine a state’s foreign policy options and its position in the hierarchy of states”. These geographical factors have always played important roles in human affairs. They have led to shaping of identity, character and history of nation-states including hindering their social, political and economic development. Above all, geopolitics has played an important role in their international relations.
The nature of interactions in the Great Lakes region and types of conflicts cannot ordinarily be categorized simply as interstate or intrastate. The conflicts tend to expand geographically and the epicenter shifts from one locus to the other. Moreover, conflicts in this region of Africa are dynamic and complex because of a multiplicity of actors involved from time to time (Kanyangara, 2008). Kanyangara, (2016) has also observed that the conflicts in this region have always been interconnected, although there has always been a tendency for intrastate in the beginning due to strong cross border dynamics and transnational ethnic identities, destabilizing the region.
To understand the armed violence under study one needs to content with the expanding geographic space of the conflicts in the Great Lakes region and how it has contributed to the general instability in spaces like Burundi, Central Africa Republic, South Sudan, Sudan and the DRC. For example, the Rwanda genocide of 1994 led to a massive influx of refugees in DRC. This has created a “conflict system” that is self-sustainable, Checha (2004:22). This system also feeds itself with cheap weapons which always find their way into conflict zones contributing to instability and insecurity. It is estimated that between 500 000 and 100 000 000 small arms were in circulation in 2001 (Checha 2004). This the reason why the DRC has found it difficult to offset the cyclic nature of the violent and abusive culture in its borders.
The DRC is known (potentially) as the economic giant of the African continent which is endowed in rich natural resources, including minerals, oil, forestry and agricultural land. According to the US geological survey website, the country is the world’s leading producer of copper, cobalt and coltan (http://minerals.usgs.gov/minerals). Table 3.4 below shows some data on the quantity and value of the production of keys minerals and oil. Recent estimates peg the DRC cobalt production at 55 percent of world’s cobalt production (with 45 percent of world’s reserves), 21 percent of industrial diamonds, and 12 percent of tantalum (USGS 2014).
Table 3.4: Natural resources in DRC: production (quantity and value)
Commodity 1990 2000 2011 Quantity
(Metric Tons) Value
(Metric Tons) Value
(Metric Tons) Value
Cobalt 19,000 345,8 10,000 297,0 60,000 2166,0
Copper 339,000 918,7 21,000 40,7 530,000 4743,5
Gold 9 115,3 7,2 64,9 3,5 176,8
Silver 84 13,0 0 0,0 10,1 11,4
Diamond 4 27,7 3,2 6,8 3,9 4,0
Petroleum 10,600 260,0 8,500 258,2 8,558 812,0
Source: US Geological Survey, “The Mineral Industry of Congo (Kinshasa) 2012”, accessible online at : http://minerals.usgs.gov/minerals/pubs/country/africa.html#cg
DRC’s geography had an impact on its relations with other nations. Rwanda derived its economic, political, and military characteristics from the physical features and environmental influences of its rich neighbor. As can be seen above, the DRC attracted adversaries because of its vast wealth.
On one hand it is believed that nations like Angola, Namibia and Zimbabwe agreed to back the Kabila government because of the associated economic benefits. On the other hand, DRC has nine neighbors, accounting for the largest number on the continent. (See Appendix VI). Its geography has an economic and political impact for the region and other African nations. Congo is also a gateway to trade and other economic opportunities in the sub-region. This therefore means, instability in the DRC or any country of the Great Lakes Region has spillover effects. The study found that the country is often used as a staging ground by rebel movements from Rwanda, Sudan and Burundi (Kisangani, 2012; Prunier, 2004). This has grossly affected international relations with governments in neighboring countries.
In view of this geopolitical perspective it was observed that the major factor of the anti-Mobutu war of 1997 was the 1994 genocide in Rwanda and its aftermath (Kisangani 2012). The Rwanda genocide and its impact is analyzed in subsequent sections of this chapter. What is worth noting at this stage is that the influx of Rwanda refugees (Hutu) had far reaching ethnic disturbances in eastern DRC. This in turn exacerbated underlying antagonism between ethnic groups related to those from Rwanda. This explains why a number of ethnic groups keep seeking support in the eastern DRC. Over and above rebel groups, Rwanda continues to launch its economic adventures which keeps fueling conflict.
3.5Marginalization of ethnic groups
It should be recalled that ethnicity was the main driver for the Rwanda, Burundi and Uganda involvement in the First Congo War. According to Gourevitch (1998), the same factor was again the motivation which propelled Rwanda to invade the DRC during the Second Congo War. Most conflicts that Africa have experienced involved identity politics. Williams (2016) has observed that people’s ethnic identity are commonly held to be of greater significance than other identities. Gurr (2000:66) on the other hand posit that wars that are waged between competing identities “are believed to be intractable” and once armed conflicts based on ethnicity break out, identities become reinforced to an extent that may prove cooperation between groups difficult. Ethnicity in itself does not lead to armed confrontations. These types of wars only reflect power struggles and “power hungry elites manipulate a variety of institutions to encourage widespread fear of some other ethnicity and create incentives for publics to take defensive measures to ward off the source of the threat” (Horowitz, 1985: 53).
The DRC is a multi-ethnic nation. The major groups are as shown on Figure 3.5 below. Ethnicity has continued to play a key role in the DRC conflicts since the coming of independence. Evidence shows that at independence, ethnic dominance was key in most political parties. Lumumba’s MNC was the only party which scholars believe advocated for national unity and transcended tribal affiliation (Young 1965, Turner, 1985). The majority of other parties, to this day, have ethnic backgrounds and explicitly defended interests of particular ethnic groups against “threat of foreigners”. For example, CONAKAT which was created on 04 October 1958 was given the clear mission of defending the interests of “authentic Katangans” against the Baluba from Kasai and Kivu provinces (Kisangani, 2012). This form of hatred originated from the urban mine workers seeking to protect their employment and from political elites led by Moise Tshombe seeking to advance his political agenda (Nzongola-Ntalaja, 2002). This antagonism encouraged the Kasai secession war of 1960-62.
Politics of ethnicity and identity therefore is one of the sources of conflict in the DRC. Scholars agree that marginalization of ethnic groups worsened under the Kabila regime. The war was premised on the anti-Kabila discourse which according to Kisangani (2010) was as a result of the government’s decision to bar the Banyamulenge and other Tutsi from power. This literally meant deprivation of their Congolese nationality. It can therefore be argued that one of the drivers of the war against Kabila was the motivation to bring Banyamulenge and the Tutsi into mainstream politics and governance of the DRC.
Figure 3.5Ethnic composition in the DRC
Source: Encyclopedia Britannica, Inc.
Over and above the ethnic profile in DRC, the regional dimension of ethnicity and distribution of the Hutu and Tutsi in the Great Lakes Region are not confined within political borders. More than two million Tutsis and Hutus are located across the boundaries of Rwanda and Burundi in neighboring states. Some trace their ancestry to either DRC’s North Kivu or South Kivu provinces (Amici 1999, Wimmer (1997), recognizes that ethnic dynamics in the Great Lakes region as one of the conflict drivers in DRC. The sum of all these ethnic dynamics is that, conflicts in neighboring Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi have been motivated by ethnicity of groups and political leaders’ ability to manipulate and arouse ethnic hostility for personal gains.
In view of this factor conclusions are that once conflict with an ethnic factor erupts in Rwanda, Burundi or eastern DRC, it becomes easy for actors with direct interests to manipulate and exploit these ethnic fault lines to create armed groups with ethnic alliances, in spite of political boundaries. Nations like Rwanda whose interests are in DRC continue to take advantage of the ethnic orientation of the political process which came about as a result of the fact that the colonial system deliberately denied space to the emergence of a dynamic middle class, thus creating fault lines in the DRC. The DRC/Rwanda war therefore only encouraged and allowed rebel groups to insurrect to protect their own identities and foreign actors abused these groups to terrorize defenseless civilians.
It must however be noted that the presence of diverse ethnic groups in a country does not in itself trigger conflict. Multi-ethnic societies can prosper in their diversity. The current ethnic discourse in DRC politics was not a result of nature but a result of divide and rule tactics by the colonial regimes and manipulated by nations like Rwanda in pursuit of national self-interests.
3.6The trans-border impact of the 1994 Rwanda genocide
The 1994 genocide which involved Hutu leaders instigating for the deliberate killing of the Tutsi minority is the first major event in the Great Lakes Region which had an impact on the security situation in the DRC. In summary, when the Hutu escaped after the crimes they opted to settle in the eastern provinces of the DRC where they could identify with Congolese Hutus. There are three changes that took place in the DRC ethnic relations as a result of the arrival of the Hutus. First, the Tutsi genocide changed the balance of power in the Kivu provinces, second, the ethnic balance also shifted and thirdly the migration increased pressure on the meagre food supplies in the DRC at the expense of refugee camps. Subsequent sections of this chapter analyses in-depth the trans-border impact of the 1994 genocide of Rwanda.
To begin with, the historical background of pre-existing political tensions in the period leading up to the genocide as well as how the conflict had transcending effects in DRC are important to facilitate analysis. There are two major ethnic groups in Rwanda; the Hutu majority and the Tutsi minority. History records that the Tutsi were the ruling elite before independence from Belgium in 1962, after which Rwanda became a Hutu dominated one party state. According to Prunier (1995), several episodes of ethnic violence between the two ethnic groups leading to hundreds of Tutsis fleeing to neighboring countries had already taken place prior to the 1994 genocide.
The killing of Hutu political opponents started immediately after President Habyarimana’s plane was shot down. The president of Burundi was also killed, as he was also travelling in the same plane. Prunier (1995:261,265) estimates that 5-10 percent of Rwanda’s population was killed “between the second week of April and third week of May 1994”; “one of the highest casualty rates of any population in history from non-natural causes”. The resultant genocide led to the death of 800 000 Rwandese and millions were also displaced (UNHCR, 1999).
The end of the genocidal war was accompanied by a massive wave of Rwandese refugees fleeing their country towards DRC (then Zaire), Tanzania and Burundi (Prunier 1994). According to the UNHCR with about thirty-five camps of various sizes, DRC was at the core of the cyclic conflict. Together they held no fewer than 850 000 people, including 30 000 to 40 000 men of the ex-Armed Forces of Rwanda (FAR), the army of the genocide, complete with its heavy and portable weapons, its Officers Corps and its transport echelon (UNHCR Report 1995). Prunier (2011:25) adds that, “to the south of Lake Kivu, around Bukavu and Uvira, thirty smaller camps held about 650.000 refugees from Rwanda”. There were also 270 000 people in Burundi and another 570 000 in eight camps in Tanzania. It was also noted that practically all the politicians and military men had gone to Zaire (DRC), where President Mobutu’s sympathy for the fallen regime afforded them freedom of movement.
It was clear that Mobutu had taken a security gamble when he accepted the Rwandan refugees without screening. According to Prunier (2011), from the beginning these camps were an uneasy compromise between genuine refugee settlements and a defeated ethnic group which was reorganizing to (re)conquest of power in Rwanda.
The influx of refugees into the DRC as a result of the 1994 genocide disturbed the status quo in South and North provinces. Large contingents of the Hutu militias who were known as the Interahamwe among the Rwandan refugees were the key driver for the Rwanda government to cross forces into DRC. This was done for national security interests, so that the militias could not launch a counter-offensive on Kigali using the DRC as staging area. Ntalaja (2002:214) adds that, “the Congo under a capable and responsible government could have stopped the genocide of 1994 in Rwanda”. The genocide as a result became one of the key determinant of instability in the Great Lakes Region. The next sub-section shows how Rwanda manipulated its pursuit of the Interahamwe militia and pursue economic goals through access to natural resources in east DRC. It is important to conclude that the impact of Hutu refugees on the DRC’s security was used by Rwanda as a reason for its military venture.
3.6.1Inter-ethnic relations in the DRC after the 1994 Genocide
The study has already highlighted how the influx of refugees changed inter-ethnic attitudes especially between the Hutu and Tutsis in DRC. The most affected areas were the eastern provinces of Kivu which host a significant number of ethnic Hutu and Tutsi populations. In attempting to examine the impact the genocide had on the security in the Great Lakes Region of Africa, Nyinawumuntu (2009:96) proffered two variables to measure the effect. The first variable is the “nature and extent of violent attacks against Congolese Tutsis”. The other variable is related to the depth of political exclusion and discrimination Congolese Tutsis experienced following the events in Rwanda.
It should be noted that before the influx of refugees soon after the genocide, there was no significant tension between ethnic groups in the DRC. Mathieu and Tsongo (1998: 397) confirms that no anti-Tutsi sentiment took place during the pre-genocide period in the Kivu provinces. According to Pottier (2002:26), the massive movement of refugees after the genocide created animosity between the Tutsi and the Hutu in DRC. The violent relationships also spread across the DRC as a whole.
As already noted in other sections of this study, the fact that people belong to different ethnic groupings does not cause conflict and animosity on its own. The social-political environment in the DRC during the period of the genocide was ripe for conflict. The exclusion of ethnic groups in developmental issues contributed to the tensions. According to McNulty (1996: 54), the DRC had already deteriorated economically as a state under the Mobutu regime. The society was characterized by political chaos, socio-economic decline and severe disgruntlement among ethnic groups in the DRC. When Mobutu was removed from power by the Rwanda-backed Kabila, the situation worsened and became ripe for a cyclic conflict. To make matters worse, then situation did not improve under Kabila. People’s hopes were dashed leading to ethnic sponsored clashes and armed rebellions.
3.6.2The resultant relationship between Rwandan Hutu refugees and rebel movements in DRC
The influx of refugees through the porous borders of the DRC opened avenues for illegal proliferation of arms and other illicit activities. According to Gleditsh and Salehyan (2006: 335) “refugee flows facilitated the transnational spread of arms, combatants, and ideologies conducive to conflict”.
The presence of desperate populations in the Kivu provinces encouraged rebellion and Rwanda took advantage of this situation and sponsored various groups. The two Congo Wars were nourished by the availability of “othered” groups (deliberately and systematically underprivileged on ethnic basis) in DRC. For example, the FDL which was led by Kabila was formed in South Kivu from a number of other smaller anti-Mobutu groups. It was made up of Kabila’s People’s Revolutionary Party (PRP), Consel de la Resistance pour la Democratie (CRD) led by Andre Kisasse Ngandu, and the People’s Democratic Alliance (PDA) led by Deogratias Bugera. The rise of M23 rebels was also a result of backing by Kigali. The huge number of groups in the various alliances had an effect on the complexities in the conflict. The rebel groups survived at the backdrop of violent clashes over control of natural and human resources.
It should also be noted that ex-FAR combatants also known as the Interahamwe managed to add to the havoc in eastern DRC. This is the reason why it was difficult for parties to the Lusaka Peace Accord to reach a common ground due to the multiplicity of actors involved. It was also observed that Rwanda took advantage of the complexities and sponsored its proxies while it attempted to officially withdraw its forces from DRC in line with the peace accord.
3.7Access to resources for insurgent groups
The most common driver for establishment of rebellious movements is the existence of the suitable situations for conflict coupled with access to resources which include human and logistical resources. According to Collier and Hoeffler (2004), Gates (2002), and Walter, (2004) economic hardships and lack of education forced the underprivileged youth to join rebel movements as combatants. It should be noted that the ability to recruit alone is not sufficient enough. Stedman, (2001); Collier and Hoeffler (2004) have all agreed that financial supplies and training bases are also necessary for a sustainable insurrection.
The DRC/Rwanda conflict was made possible because of the availability of resources. Claims and counter-claims were made by both the DRC and Rwanda to the effect that each of the countries were harboring and supporting illegal armed groups. Rwanda provided rebel groups with training and staging ground from which to project operations. After the dissipation of the Kinshasa/Kigali relations, ethnic divisions grew. According to a respondent at Tongogara Refugee Camp, the presence of RPA worsened this situation. They were caught in between “men with guns” and had no options but to join those whom they deemed powerful at that particular moment.
3.8Rwanda’s security, economic and political stake in DRC
Rwanda invaded the DRC in pursuit of vested national security interests (UN Report 2001). As already highlighted in other sections of this study, the aftermath of the genocide in deed created security challenges for Kagame’s government. After the defeat of the Hutu regime in 1994 the new government was compelled to ensure its own security and guarantee domestic peace. Despite the disapproval from the international world Rwanda invaded the DRC in order to deal with the rebel attacks. The intended reader should recall that the invasion took place during the period after Kabila had severed military ties with Kigali. The relationship between Kabila and Kagame was therefore concluded a “marriage of convenience” (Prunier, 2009:334).
The invasion involved local rebel forces under the RPF’s guidance. Rwanda chose to sponsor the Banyamulenge outfit because grievances against the Kabila regime were growing with each passing government decision. For example, Congloese Tutsi dominated rebel group cited increased marginalization of Congolese Tutsis in the national army’s command structure as well as Kabila’s decision to integrate former Mobutu troops into the command structures. It was in the midst of these circumstances that Kagame officially declared that Rwanda had a duty to protect its national security interests and also “to prevent another genocide on Congolese Tutsis” (Prunier, 2009:234).
According to Lezhnev (2013) Rwanda’s political interests in Congo were complex even though their interpretations are disputed and controversial. According to the UNHCR (2013) Rwanda believed that some Tutsis in eastern Congo faced security threat and lived in an environment rife with ethnic tension. In that perspective the Rwandan government stated that it wanted to prevent discrimination and violence against Tutsis in Congo. But evidence proved that she supported numerous Congolese militias-including Raia Mutomboki, Forces de Defence Congolese (FDC) and Mai Mai which fueled ethnic tensions and actually increased Tutsi vulnerability (UNHCR Report 2013).
Kigali also repeatedly stated its interest in repatriating the approximately 58,000 refugees who had escaped violent reprisals after the 1994 genocide. The Congolese government viewed this as a fabrication in order to find a way of violating the DRC’s sovereignty through intervention. There was also a widespread belief in DRC that Rwanda wanted to annex the Kivu region of eastern Congo, claiming it was hers before colonialism. (Prunier, 2009).
The real motive was in economic growth. In the post-genocide era Rwanda embarked on an economic recovery programme. Several Rwandan government officials and businessmen confirmed that the future of Rwanda depended largely on Congo (Enough Project, 2013). It was also observed that Western nations avoided criticizing her for the invasion of the DRC and never raised questions related to attacks on refugee camps. The silence was interpreted as a cover up by world powers for their lack of action to prevent the 1994 genocide.
A UN panel of experts tasked to investigate Rwanda’s stake in Congo unearthed evidence to the contrary. For example, the panel secured a letter dated 26 May 2000, from Jean-Pierre Ondekane, First Vice-President and Chief of the Military High Command for RDC-Goma, urging all army units to maintain good relations “with our Interahamwe and Mayi-Mayi brothers”, and further, “if necessary to let them exploit the sub-soil for their survival” (UNSC, 2009: 23).
Several NGOs also documented the systematic looting and appropriation of DRC resources by Rwanda (Kisangani, 2012). Evidence also implicated Rwandan authorities in the recruitment of soldiers, including children and facilitated the supply of military equipment (Enough! 2007). Officers of the RPA were also seconded to lead and organize rebel movements especially in the eastern provinces of the DRC. These activities were noted to be in support of the National Congress for the Defence of the People (CNDP), formerly led by self-proclaimed General Laurent Nkunda. The UN report also revealed that the CNDP sheltered a war criminal wanted by the International Criminal Court (ICC), Gen Jean Bosco Ntaganda. The CNDP used Rwanda as a rear base for fundraising meetings and bank accounts.
Economic exploitation of resources was observed to be through complex networks especially the use of the elite who were based in eastern DRC. UNSC Panel of Experts concluded that these networks were controlled centrally from the Rwanda Patriotic Army Congo Desk, which served to link the commercial and military activities of RPA. The Panel once acquired documents showing coltan sales being negotiated by the ranking Congo Desk officials. Copies of faxes sent from the office of one Major Dan Munyuza on behalf of Maniema Mining Company (UNSC, 2009).
There was also evidence to the effect that the bulk of coltan exported from the eastern DRC was mined under the direct surveillance of RPA mining detachees and evacuated by aircraft from airstrips near mining sites directly to Kigali. In these commercial activities there were no taxes paid to the government of DRC.
In view of these illicit economic activities, the international community was left without an option but to place Kigali under sanctions. Despite sanctions in place Rwanda continued supporting rebel movements which led to more punitive measures. The UN Group of Experts Report and UNSC Sanctions Committee (UNSC Report, 2012), found Rwanda in breach of the arms embargo and sanctions as follows:
Direct assistance in the establishment of M23 through logistical support.
Forced recruitment of Rwandan youth and demobilized ex-combatants including Congolese refugees for M23.
Direct RDF interventions to reinforce M23 inside DRC territory.
Logistical support to several other armed groups in the eastern Congo.
Violation of the asset freeze and travel ban through supporting sanctioned individuals.
In addition to rendering support to several other rebel groups operating in eastern DRC, it was the creation of the M23 rebel outfit which exposed Rwanda. The study found that it was established by Colonel Makenga who had deserted from the DRC armed forces. The M23 was created using Rwandan territory and under the direct tutelage of the RDF officers (UNSC Group of Experts Report, 2003). Sources interviewed by the UN Group of Experts confirmed movement of M23 combatants from Rwanda into the DRC as follows:
Four local leaders attested to witnessing RDF troops offloading equipment in the general area of Gasizi.
Three DRC border agents witnessed the RDF trucks which brought the troops and equipment to Gasizi.
A civilian informer reported that the troops had been brought to Gasizi in RDF trucks.
Several former M23 combatants told the Group that General Ruvusha accompanied Makenga (Commander of M23) to meet his troops in the RDF base at Kabuhanga (Rwanda).
In view of the arguments and evidence above, it is safe to conclude that one of the causes of the DRC/Rwanda conflict lie in Rwanda’s pursuit of national self-interests. The motivations include security, economic interests and political hegemony. This study reached the conclusion that Kagame and his government benefitted from the destabilization of eastern DRC in order to facilitate unrestricted access to Congo’s economic wealth. Though the threat of the ex-Rwandan forces was real, it was vastly exaggerated in view of the relative capabilities between the rebels. The RPA amounted to over 70 000 men and armed with modern military hardware including Armored Personnel Careers (APCs), tanks and helicopters supplied by western nations.
The chapter analyzed the root causes of the DRC conflict. It revealed that the conflict had strong links with the historical background and geopolitics of the Great Lakes Region. Rwanda’s claims for invasion of the DRC revolved around security concerns of its national borders especially in the eastern provinces of North and South Kivu. It was clear in the findings that Kigali had other underlying motivations for its presence in the DRC including the support of rebel groups. The next chapter analyses the impact of the DRC/Rwanda conflict on stability.
THE IMPACT OF THE CONFLICT ON NATIONAL STABILITY
The previous chapter analyzed the root causes of the DRC/Rwanda conflict and how it became a recurrent and cyclic conflict. Clearly, the conflict became complex as a result of historical linkages of actors who are involved in the current armed conflicts. Rwanda admitted its participation in the DRC conflict citing national security interests. Kagame (2002) believed that Kigali had a justified cause to be in the DRC without prior consent of Kinshasa. Rwanda argued that Ex-FAR rebels posed a serious security threat to the country, after the 1994 genocide. The study found out that Rwanda could not explain its deployment in Kinshasa instead of concentrating efforts along the border. Before the First Congo War, authorities in Rwanda, believed Mobutu was not doing enough to halt the Hutu from “planning a second genocide” (Theuri, 2002:58). The invasion of the DRC was therefore motivated by security concerns. When Kabila toppled Mobutu Rwanda still found it necessary to launch more operations in the DRC resulting in the Second Congo War. The war claimed an estimated 5.4 million victims by April 2007 and 6.9 million as of February 2010 (Coghlan et al 2007).
This chapter examines the impact of the DRC conflict. The analysis paid attention to its specific impact on human security. In view of this impact, the chapter used various macroeconomic performance indicators, social amenities and human rights aspects as variables. It should also be noted that these effects have also spilled across the DRC’s borders, affecting neighboring economies and undermining development in the process.
4.2Macroeconomic impact of the conflict
The DRC/Rwanda conflict had adverse consequences on the economy contributing to national instability. The war also had far reaching effects on the whole of the central African region and beyond. Clark and Koyame (2006) believes that there is no doubt that the economic potential of the entire African continent has been indirectly muted by the war’s huge disruptive impact.
The war was waged at the backdrop of economic meltdown in a country which was already deteriorating after years of poor governance. For example, when the Kabila toppled Mobutu in the First Congo War of 1996 the economy was already shrinking to alarming levels. With the emergence of war, the economy contracted further. National economic output deteriorated by an average of 9.7% per annum (World Bank, 2008). Furthermore, the GDP declined in 1997 by an additional 5.7%, a growth rate which remained in the negative throughout the Second Congo War. Table 4.2 below highlights the economic performance of the DRC during three periods:
Table 4.2: Selected macroeconomic indicators in the DRC, 1990-2013
Annual Averages Pre-war War-time Post-war
1990 1996 2002 2013 1990-1996 1997-2002 2003-2013
GDP growth (annual %) -6.4 -1.0 2.7 8.6 -6.1 -2.7 6.11
Inflation 81.3 616.1 25.2 0.7 4754.6 240.6 15.5
Government revenue (% of GDP) n.a 1.1 5.2 17.3 1.1 2.4 14.1
Government expenditure (% of GDP) n.a 2.1 5.1 19.1 2.1 3.3 15.1
Government net lending ; borrowing (% of GDP) n.a -0.7 0.2 -1.8 -0.7 -1.1 -1.1
Government gross debt (% of GDP) n.a 136.1 20.1 n.a 150.8 70.6
Gross-domestic investment (% of GDP) 9.0 27.3 7.7 20.5 9.7 6.1 15.6
Gross domestic savings (% of GDP) 9.1 27.2 9.4 14.5 10.4 6.5 9.4
Current account balance (% of GDP) -1.6 -0.1 4.8 -10.2 -1.2 0.8 -3.4
Total reserves (% of total external debt) 2.3 0.4 0.5 27.4 1.4 0.5 10.5
Source: World Bank (2008)
Public finance in DRC also suffered a result of the war. First it was due to the disruption of economic activities in the country. Second, there was a neglect on public expenditure on critical sectors of the economy at the expense of funding the wars. Prunier (2011:56) summarizes the DRC economy during the war period:
The DRC economy fell from +0.8 % in 1998 to -10.3% in 1999 and -11.5 % in 2000. Exports, which was still $1.422 billion in 1998, reduced to $748 million in 1999 and $685 million in 2000. As expected inflation rose from 147 % in 1998 to 333 % in 1999, pushing down the Congolese franc down from 9.5 to 12 US$ on the black market.
The economy continued to deteriorate to alarming levels as the war went on. Among the immediate causes of this dire situation were the loss in revenue due to lack of production as a result of disrupted production. Government expenditure, as shown on Table 4.2 above was excessive. Other sectors of the economy were neglected at the expense of funding the defence which included hosting foreign armies which were supporting the DRC government.
The DRC/Rwanda conflict facilitated the systematic looting of the DRC’s natural wealth. This loss had an adverse effect of the overall macro-economy of the country. According to the UN the illicit exploitation of natural resources took place at an alarming rate. It was observed that MNCs from the rest of the world sought to profit from the war situation through uncontrolled exploitation of minerals (UN Report, 2001). MNCs which were previously stationed in neighboring countries in the region also joined the bandwagon. For example, Trinity and Victoria from Uganda was known for its modus operandi. The company is stationed in Kampala and is headed by one Mr. Khalil. Another reliable source informed the members of the UN Panel of Experts that the company in question jointly belonged to Mr Kainerugabe, son of President Museveni. According to a UN report, Mr. Khalil had two collaborators based in Kisangani and Gbadolite (both were said to be from Lebanon).
The report also found out that Rwandan rebels looted and smuggled enormous wealth including tons of coltan into their own countries for exports to the other markets, using the profits to support their militias. For example, Rwanda reported 2.5 tons of coltan exports in 1998, a mineral which is only found in the DRC (Shah, 2010). Even though the Rwanda government disputed the UN report, in 2013 a follow up report mentioned that there was an increase in coltan production in eastern DRC where Rwandan backed rebel groups were based.
The sum impact of the illicit exploitation had an adverse effect on the DRC’s economy. Only unscrupulous business people and MNCs benefitted from the exploitation at the expense of the local population. The illegal mineral business activities were also closely linked to abuse of human rights. The next section discusses the social impact of the war during which civilians were sexually abused, displaced and lost their lives and opportunities.
4.3Social impact of the conflict
Africa has experienced more than 20 armed conflicts since 1960, Bolle (2000). The result has always been both devastating and degrading on human security and all facets of social amenities. The DRC/Rwanda conflict had a huge social impact on the DRC population. This include loss of life, deprivation of amenities, displacement of the population and abuse of vulnerable groups.
4.3.1Loss of life and impact on amenities
This study found out that the DRC/Rwanda conflict and its aftermath was devastating and degrading, with an estimated 5.4 million victims as of April 2007 and 6.9 million as of February 2010 (Coghlan et al 2007). Kristof (2010: 61) also classified the two major wars as the “deadliest conflicts since World War II and claiming more lives than the Holocaust”. The scholar adds that, on top of the “direct death toll” the wars in DRC resulted in direct and indirect effects on human security.
As the war raged on, the living standards in the Congo deteriorated leading to severe deprivation especially for vulnerable groups. This was as a result of the decline in DRC’s economic and social capabilities. The study traced the economic decline as far back as the period when the country was still under the Mobutu regime. In 1990 for example, the country was already among the worst in the world in terms of human development (World Bank, 2000). According to the UNDP, the DRC had an overall human development index (HDI) of 0.297. this means that the general populace could not contribute to the development of the country because of lack of education and productive training.
It was also observed that only 17% of the population had access to improved sanitation and only 43 % could access improved water sources during the period under study (UNDP, 2014). Table 4.3.1a below shows the devastating effects of the war on the DRC’s amenities.
Table 4.3.1a Selected welfare indicators
Year Access to improved sanitation facilities (%) Access to improved water sources (%) Life expectancy
(Years) GNI per capita (PPP, currency USD) HDI %Change in HDI index
1996 17.0 43.2 46.9 480 0.297 1998 18.7 43.4 45.9 290 0.263 2000 22.6 44.0 45.7 250 0.234 2002 26.4 44.9 47.0 300 0.258 2004 30.0 46.0 48.1 380 0.295 2007 31.4 46.5 50.0 444 0.338 1.64
Burundi 47.5 75.3 54 749 0.389 2.29
Rwanda 63.8 70.7 64 1403 0.506 3.35
Uganda 33.9 74.8 59 1335 0.484 1.63
Source: World Bank (2014)
Social amenities received meagre financial support which resulted in high levels in deprivation in terms of basic social needs. Other countries in the region have been included for comparison purposes. The entire country relied on only 2000 doctors which translated to 4 doctors per 100, 000 patients (World Bank, 2005). The situation was also worsened by the destruction of hospitals and health centres.
Allied to the social welfare indicators on Table 4.3 above is the public health expenditure between the year 1995 and 2012 shown on Figure 4.3 below. It was deduced that both social and human development conditions prior to the period of wars were a result of poor funding for the sectors by the DRC government. The situation was worsened by the withdrawal of the donor community. When the war commenced, the government was forced to fund the defence sector, neglecting social amenities, industry and development. The inadequate funding of the social service sector resulted in high levels of deprivation for the population (World Bank, 2009).
Although there was already evidence of a worsening situation before the war, the health sector was further destroyed by the armed conflict. In the year 2001, as the war raged on, there was massive destruction of health infrastructure by combatants including 200 hospitals, 3420 health care centres, 150 pharmacies and 250 laboratories. In addition, vaccination campaigns were disrupted throughout the country (RDC, 2010). Medical personnel were also forced to abandon their duties which led to the closure of many health centres. It should also be noted that the worsening situation in the DRC led to an increase in non-state actors. These are the NGOs who played an important role in filling the gap left by the government.
lefttop00Source: World Bank (2008)
To reinforce the fact that the DRC government neglected other sectors, Table 4.4 below shows the rate of budget executions between the period 2003-2006 when the First Congo War commenced after which the Second Congo War begun.
Table 4.3b Rate of budget executions (%)
Function 2003 2004 2005 2006
Order and Security 107 111 108 127
Defence 115 112 103 112
Education 36 24 84 86
Health 59 39 58 45
Social Protection 29 23 23 24
Source: World Bank 2008
The evidence in the Table 4.4 above confirms that other almost all sectors other than defence and security suffered the same fate as health. The situation worsened as the national security deteriorated, forcing the government to shift its budget allocation to defence and security.
4.3.2Displacement of the population
Armed conflicts are known to deprive the population of their habitats. In the DRC, the most affected provinces were North Kivu, South Kivu, Maniema, Katanga and Orientale. Civilians were threatened by such armed groups as M23, FDLR, and the Mai Mai. According to the UNHR, an estimated 2.6 million people were recorded as internally displaced persons (IDP) and more than 460 000 refugees crossing into neighboring countries, especially in Burundi, Rwanda and Tanzania (UNHCR, 2014). Specifically, up to 70 000 people were displaced due to the clashes between the M23 rebels and the government forces (FARDC) or the Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of Congo.
As the fighting escalated, OCHA recorded an increase in IDPs. According to the NGO, of all the IDPs, 81.4 % were displaced because of armed conflict, 16.3 % because of conflict related insecurity while 2.2 % were displaced for other reasons. The sum total therefore of people who were displaced as a result of the DRC conflict was 97.7 %. It should however be noted that as the conflict subsidized there was a decrease of IDPs by 11% (OCHA, 2014).
4.3.3Impact of conflict on girls and women
Sexual violence has become synonymous with armed conflicts in Africa. Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch agree that women and girls were the most affected groups in the DRC conflicts. Both government and rebel groups targeted women and girls for sexual violence and rape, which they used as a weapon of revenge against the enemy (Human Rights Watch, 2002; Amnesty International, 2008). The eastern provinces suffered most from the wars (UN OHCHR, 2010). An estimate of between 40. 000 and 60. 000 women were raped in Eastern DRC between 1996 and 2002 (Sow, 2006). It is also on record that all the reported 25.000 cases of rape occurred in the eastern regions of the DRC close to Rwanda. The recurrence of armed conflict in North Kivu was also accompanied by a rise in cases of sexual violence against girls and women.
Table 4.3.2 below summarizes sexual violence incidences by province in 2007. It should be noted that the problem was widespread in the whole country, but the situation was worse in conflict affected provinces. From the table, Orientale and North Kivu were affected the most. It is also observed that sexual violence affected girls under the age of 18. In essence, this group of victims dominated statistics of sexual violence, except in the Kivu provinces. The study concluded that women and girls suffered more than men in the DRC conflicts.
Table 4.3.2a Sexual violence incidence by province in 2007
Province Cases % of total cases % of victims under 18
Bandundu 488 5 86.9
Basa Congo 379 3.9 75.5
Equator 211 2.2 65.9
Kasai Orientale 772 7.9 90.9
Kasai Occidental 756 7.7 70.7
Katanga 281 2.9 65.1
Kinshasa 554 5.7 68.1
Maniema 551 5.6 69
Orientale 1957 20.1 64.7
North Kivu 3063 31.4 35.1
South Kivu 745 7.6 23.3
Source: UNFPA-RDC (2008)
4.3.4The scourge of child-soldier recruitment and child labor in the conflict
The study found out that the conflict did not spare children from illegal labour, the scourge of child soldier recruitment and other forms of exploitation. According to Amnesty International (2003) the massive displacement of the population at the commencement of hostilities left the youth especially boys and young men vulnerable to forced labour as couriers and child soldiers. NGOs working in conflict torn provinces recorded that forced recruitment took place in schools, on the streets and refugee camps (RDC 2003). Amnesty International estimated that the DRC had the largest concentration of child soldiers in the world, with about 30.000 children abused as combatants, porters and sex workers by the government, rebel groups and militias (Amnesty International, 2003).
4.3.5Child poverty and deprivation
UNICEF categorizes the DRC population as young. 53 % of the population in 2010 was less than 18 years. It was also noted that of the 53 %, about 37 % children lived in conflict torn areas such as Equator, Katanga and Orientale (UNICEF, 2008). Naturally, children were therefore more vulnerable as compared to adults. The impact of deprivation affected children more than adults who could supplement some of the basic human needs. An extract from a UNICEF report below, summarizes the impact of child deprivation during the war:
Children living in poverty experience deprivation of the material, spiritual and emotional resources needed to survive, develop and thrive, leaving them unable to enjoy their rights, achieve their full potential or participate as full and equal members of society (UNICEF, 2005: 18).
Overall, during the period under study reports revealed that child poverty accounted for 76.6 %, higher than the 71.3 % of the national poverty. This was assessed basing on the international poverty line of $1/day/person (UNICEF, 2008). Children, especially those in rural areas suffered from various cases of deprivation which include access to decent housing, water, food, education and health services. When compared to urban areas, it was observed that 87.8 % of the deprivation took place in rural arears than 38.3 % in urban areas. Table 4.5.2b below shows that the impact of the DRC war was felt in rural areas than in urban areas. This shows that the war was fought predominately in the rural areas.
Table 4.3bProportion of children with severe deprivation (%)
Nature of deprivation Non-conflict zones Conflict zones National level Overall Urban Rural
Housing 34.5 37.1 37.5 39.4 36.7
Toilets 11.1 11.4 12.0 3.70 15.6
Safe water 64.4 77.5 73.0 38.3 87.8
Information 79.8 82.3 68.7 49.8 87.6
Education 23.9 36.8 32.7 16.1 39.4
Nutrition 22.1 26.9 28.9 16.8 28.9
Health 57.0 61.1 53.6 65.8
Source: RDC and UNICEF (2008)
The youth in the DRC lost many opportunities. In addition to other areas of deprivation, the war escalated the deterioration of educational outcomes in the country. According to the RDC, on the onset of conflicts only 52 % of children aged between 6 and 11 were attending school. This situation was worse in conflict torn areas especially in North and East Kivu provinces. Owing to poor primary school foundation, the study found out that school attainment at the secondary level was very low. It was also noted that conflicts largely impacted on the education system, denying the youth of opportunities to secure a better future. Seymour (2001), carried out a study of the age groups affected by wars in DRC. The proportion of school going youth born between 1992 and 1995 who were affected by the armed conflict was larger than 57 % as compared to those born between 1987 and 1991 who had to enter the school system between 1993 and 1997 (35%). The conclusion was that the conflict between DRC and Rwanda had a negative impact on education.
Jeopardized access to decent and formal education for the youth limited opportunities for jobs. The sum total of this problem is that the youth as a result would not be able to contribute to the development of the country. According to RDC (2005, 2008) youth unemployment increased from 5.5% in 1990 to 32.2 % in 2005 and 49% in 2007. These statistics illustrate the impact of conflict on human development.
4.4Environmental impact of the conflict
Armed conflict impact studies have in most cases revealed the effect of war on people without paying attention to the environment. The effect of the conflict on DRC’s environment is poorly documented, despite the Congo River Basin being one of the three remaining major tropical reserves in the world (Mittermaier et al., 1998).
Environmentalists estimate that the DRC contained more than half of Africa’s forests before the Second Congo War (Wolfire et al. 1998). It was also proved that it is also the only country in the world that has three species of great apes, including the endemic bonobo pan paniscus (Krunkelsven, 2000). These rare species and other environmental resources were vulnerable during the war. Environment researcher teams have revealed that worldwide more than two thirds of the 23 protected areas with great apes were disturbed. (Saegusa, 2000).
Armed conflicts allow the unrestricted movement and circulation of portable weapons and ammunition. According to Draulands (2001), up until about 1995 the possession of modern weapons was usually limited to army personnel in towns and groups of poachers. These gangs of poachers were normally sent in and protected by ranking officers in the army. It was noted that they operated as criminal gangs, terrorizing villages, destabilizing farming and fishing populations. Congolese soldiers were also not remunerated during the period of study and most of them relied on villagers and poachers (whom they provided with ammunition) for food.
The UN also secured evidence that high ranking Rwandan and Ugandan officers transported valuable logs to their home countries (UN 2001). They also took ivory and grey parrots known as psittacus erythacus from the forests (Draulans, 2001). Soldiers were also observed with live monkeys or parrots. In Bukavu, conservation experts witnessed army personnel bringing in chimpanzees from the interior.
Finally, the study also found out that the operations of MNCs “violated international standards of good corporate behavior” through unsanctioned exploitation of mineral and forest resources (UN, 2001:4). The companies took advantage of the porous borders and central government’s lack of effective control. These illicit practices had devastating effects on the environment.
This chapter has analyzed in detail the impact the DRC/Rwanda conflict had on human security and national stability. The conflict affected the economy, including economies beyond the DRC’s borders. The greatest impact was felt at individual and community levels. The youth and vulnerable groups suffered heavily than the combatants who were directly involved in the wars. The war also adversely effected the environment. Valuable species of animals were transported across into Rwanda and forests were also destroyed in the battlefield. The next chapter presents the findings and conclusions of the study. The researcher also made policy and scholarly recommendations.
FINDINGS, CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS
The previous chapter analysed the impact of the DRC/Rwanda conflict on national stability. The effects revolved around human security. This chapter presents key findings of the research which are viewed within the framework of the objectives of the study. Based on the findings of this study, policy and scholarly recommendations will also be made. The aim of the study was to analyse the impact of vested foreign interests in the DRC/Rwanda conflict and the following questions guided the study:
What is the impact of vested foreign interests on national stability of DRC?
What is the role of external actors in the recurring DRC/Rwanda conflict?
What lessons can be drawn on the causes of the DRC/Rwanda recurrent conflict?
In view of the above research questions, the study found out that:
There is a strong linkage between the conflicts in the DRC and the colonial/historical dynamics of the Great Lakes Region as a whole. This is a strong indicator that conflict mechanisms in the region and Africa as a whole are failing to address colonial hangovers.
Rwanda invaded DRC in pursuit of its national security interests. However, its major motivations were based on survival (economic interests) and regional hegemonic ambitions. Rwanda’s national interests therefore motivated its invasion of the DRC in 1998. In view of this therefore, realist theorists correctly note that nation state can choose to breach international law in order to satisfy the demands of statism, survival and self-help.
The impact of the DRC/Rwanda relations revolves around human security. Human security, according to Thakur (1997, 53-54) refers to “the quality of life of the people of a society or polity. Anything which degrades their quality of life – demographic pressures, diminished access to or stock or resources, and so on – is a security threat. Conversely, anything which can upgrade their quality of life – economic growth, improved access to resources, social and political empowerment, and so on – is an enhancement of human security.”
In summary, the DRC/Rwanda conflict had a detrimental effect on the overall human security spectrum.
The study established that the recurrent conflict in the DRC had adverse consequences on the economy contributing to national instability. The national output deteriorated by an average of 9.7% per annum (World Bank, 2008). The growth rate fell from +0.7% in 1998 to -10.3% 1999 and -11.4% in 2000. The value of exports dropped from US$ 1.422 billion in 1998, fell to US$ 749 million in 1999 and US$ 685 million in 2000. Inflation rose from 147% in 1998 to 333% in 1999, pushing down the Congolese Franc down from 9.5 to US$12 on the black market (Prunier, 2011:88). Other sectors of the economy were neglected at the expense of funding the defence and hosting allied troops from Angola, Namibia and Zimbabwe.
The study found out that child malnutrition increased during the period under study due to non-availability of food and the effects of a shrinking economy. Out of four children under the age of five suffered from weight loss in 2010 (RDC, 2011). Weight inadequacy in children increased from 24.2% in 1995 to 31.1% in 2001.
The war also affected the health delivery system depriving the population of health security. There was massive destruction of health infrastructure by combatants including 200 hospitals, 3 420 health care centers, 150 pharmacies and 250 laboratories. Medical personnel were forced to abandon their duties which to the closure of many health centres. On the other hand, the donor community and NGOs withdrew funding and personnel because of insecurity.
The DRC conflict had an effect on the environment. Rare species and other environmental resources were vulnerable during the war. More than two thirds of the 23 protected areas with great apes were disturbed by the armed conflict. Poaching was rampant during the period under study. Gangs of poachers who were normally protected by army personnel supplied Congolese soldiers with game meat. Farming and fishing populations were disturbed by the conflict. Rwandan officers transported valuable logs to their home countries (UNSC Report, 2001).
Populations were disturbed of their habitats. The most affected provinces include North and South Kivu, Maniema, Katanga and Orientale. 2.6 million people were recorded as Internally Displaced People (IDPs) (UNHCR, 2014). 97.7 % people were displaced as a result of the armed conflict. Sexual violence was phenomenal. Government, RPA and rebel forces targeted women and girls for sexual violence and rape which were used as a weapon of revenge against the enemy (Human Rights Watch, 2002 Amnesty International, 2008). An estimated 60.000 women were raped in Eastern DRC between 1996 and 2002 (Sow, 2006). Armed groups also employed children in illegal labor including child soldier recruitment and other forms of exploitation. An estimated 30. 000 children were abused as combatants, porters and sex workers (Amnesty International, 2003).
During the period under study, the DRC communities were not safe from all forms of insecurity. The UN estimated that 53 % of the population, about 37% children in conflict torn areas. These children lived in abject poverty and experienced deprivation of material, spiritual and emotional resources. They had no access to decent housing, water, food, education and health services. The most affected areas were Equator, Katanga and Orientale. Overall, during the period under study child poverty accounted for 76.6% higher than national poverty (UNICEF, 2008).
Employing the realist paradigm in international relations, this study has analyzed the impact of the DRC/Rwanda on national stability.
Chapter one introduced the research by presenting the background and overview of the problem under study, hypothesis, objectives, theoretical framework, research methodology and preliminary literature. Key terms used in the study were also simplified defined.
Chapter two provided a detailed theorization of the DRC/Rwanda conflict in order to account for the reason why nation states elect to be in breach of international law in pursuit of national self-interests. The chapter also defined the concept of national interests and its relationship with the realist paradigm.
Chapter three traced the root causes of the conflict within the context of the Great Lakes Region dynamics with particular attention to the ethnic profiles and make up.
Chapter four of the research documented the detrimental effects of the wars on human security. These include economic, social and political spectrums of the DRC society and beyond its borders. The study highlighted that finding enduring peace and sustainable development will depend on the ability of conflict transformation mechanisms to locate the root causes of the wars.
In view of the findings made in this study and issues emerging therein, the following recommendations are made:
5.4.1Security sector reform
The cyclic nature of the conflict in DRC is a result of weak security institutions. It is therefore recommended that the Government of the Democratic Republic of Congo address the structural weakness of armed forces, carryout corrective justice in order to eradicate unresolved cases of abuses by government forces against civilian communities, restore confidence in the judicial system which has previously encouraged a culture of impunity and ensure equality in the regional and ethnic representation in the armed forces and security system.
5.4.2Accelerated human development
To address challenges to the human security there is need to accelerate human development through education. This can be done through the expansion of formal education infrastructure and vocation/technical system. The government should also increase employment opportunities for both the educated and uneducated youth and vulnerable groups.
Further research should be carried to investigate why the DRC is still unstable despite the official withdrawal of Rwandan troops from the within the borders of the DRC. There is also need to find out the source of logistical support for the rebels in the Eastern provinces of North and South Kivu.
The chapter summarized the key findings, conclusions and recommendations of the study. The study found out that there is a linkage between wars witnessed in the DRC and the Great Lakes Region dynamics and the historical background. The study concluded that Rwanda had a legitimate reason to pursue its national security interests in DRC. However, it was not clear why Kigali did not limit itself along the borders with DRC in the Kivu provinces instead of advancing as far as the capital Kinshasa, a sign that it had underlying economic interests. The DRC/Rwanda therefore revolved around the pursuit of abundant natural resources in DRC. The chapter also presented both policy and academic recommendations.