Joseph Kabila of DR Congo: His Presidency and the challenge of the Violent Non-State Actors (VNSA).

by admin on July 10, 2011

By: Fidele A. Lumeya

Failure to respond appropriately to the threats posed by the presence of violent non-state actors, VNSA, also known as ” forces negatives, mainly those active in the great North East of the Congo ( Kisangani, Mbandaka, North and South Kivu), has rendered Kabila’s presidency passive in terms of response, weak in terms of leadership capacities, deceitful from a collective moral point of view while at the individual level most of his voters, mainly women and those in East, feel betrayed.

The fact that the president inherited a chaotic situation in Eastern Congo does not justify the negligence which has been accorded major issues of law and order during his incumbency. Restoring, reinforcing and maintaining law and order are three functions that lend meaning to ruling, governing and leading a democratic state in the 21st century. Only when ruling, governing and leading a state by restoring, reinforcing and maintaining law and order are achieved, can citizens experience a reduction of violent conflict and the restoration of peace and justice. Only then will the freedoms and individual liberties at personal, group and national levels be realized in the form of economic growth, business investment and job creation.

Two conditions have led to the emergence of the violent non-state actors. One was occasioned by the end of the ‘cold war’ in 1989 when states around the world realigned and readjusted themselves to the new political paradigm of the 1990s. Secondly, in the case of the Congo, the twin phenomena of Rwanda’s ’94 genocide and the weak management of the complex humanitarian crisis in the great North East of Congo led elements of the former Rwanda army active in the refugees camps to create an alliance with local ethnic groups to countereact what was perceived as Tutsi hegemony. These negative elements have served as key factors in the weakening of Kabila’s presidency.

Violent non-state actors seem to appear whenever a given state fails to reform and manage its security sectors, not unlike the situations prevailing in Afghanistan and Iraq. In the case of Congo it appears that a weakened President Kabila has outsourced his responsibility of restoring, reinforcing and maintaining law and order by silently legitimating the engagement of non-state actors. From the perspective of the observing public, such silent legitimating of engagement by violent non-state actors accords them a defacto right to gang-rape women, to force intellectuals into exile and to silence the civil society organizations.

To de-legitimate the non-state actors in the Congo will require, firstly, a reform of the security sectors and, secondly, a commitment by the government to pay the monthly salaries of state police. Currently, state police typically abandon their posts when violent non-state actors take control of the urban areas. The Democratic Republic of Congo will hold its elections this year in November and president Kabila is a declared candidate.

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