opinionBy Shyaka Kanuma
DR Congo information minister and government spokesperson Lambert Mende lies. By now it has become a truism.
The man tells such outrageous, and easily debunked falsehoods one who turns on the TV and watches him will think this is a comedian engaged in some parody of lies. Until you notice all those props - the name tag on the desk, the little flag beside it, the fact that he is being interviewed on non-comedy TV - and realize, holy s#@t! The fellow actually speaks for a government. A government made up of comedians and buffoons; a government whose writ does not extend much beyond the confines of the dilapidated capital Kinshasa. But a government nonetheless.
Listening to Lambert Mende, to Raymond Tshibanda (DRC foreign affairs minister, too a pathological liar) and other Congolese "dignitaries" carry on with all their falsehoods about Rwanda, I always tell people Kigali is quite lucky to have these kinds of individuals as enemies. They have been accusing us of sponsoring rebel groups in their country, but without a shred of credible evidence, only lying loudly and hoping the lies stick. They have been accusing Rwanda of being their number one enemy, only for facts to surface, such as the one that recently came to light, whereby Rwanda has been providing covert military aid to help neutralize destabilizing FDLR rebels in parts of Eastern Congo who have for years been robbing, and killing and raping indiscriminately.
If Congolese government officials were just a little bit more intelligent in their lying; if they were a little more organized in their activities, even a little more responsible in their duties towards the ordinary Congolese they claim to represent, I suspect Rwanda would be in turmoil by now. If the Congolese looked more credible in presenting their cooked up accusations against Kigali, it would serve better their masters Monusco, the UN so-called peace-keeping force and other powerful actors like the blatantly political Human Rights Watch whose autocratic head Ken Roth (yes, Ken Roth, who has been at the helm of HRW since 1993 is an autocrat every inch as much as Vladimir Putin or Teodoro Obiang and others like that (except that Roth doesn't run a country) due to his propensity to crucify - on the basis of the most cooked up claims and canards - governments and leaders that he, for his own reasons, hates).
Do not doubt it: the combination of a couple of facts, a) that Rwanda is a poor African country dependent on foreign aid, and with very few natural resources at its disposal and b) that arrayed against Kigali are some groups whose influence and voices reach in the highest echelons of Western power, i.e. the same powers which may determine who of the world's less powerful or influential ends up a pariah, or in the International Criminal Court means that by now the Rwandan leadership would be in a state of instability. Very few Rwandan military leaders would be daring to step out of the country. Donors of aid would be falling over each other to see who cut more than the other. Rwandans would be in a high state of uncertainty about the future, turning against each other, and against the leadership. The gains of the past eighteen years would be experiencing assault on so many levels... less unity, less reconciliation, less stability, less economic growth...
I do not exaggerate. That is where we would be if all the negative elements ganged up against Rwanda were succeeding in their objectives, and I am not talking only of the Congolese and their masters Monusco, HRW, (and of course the UN "group of experts" headed by Steve Hege whose main expertise is writing lynch-mob reports that nevertheless do not stand up to half a minute of scrutiny). I am talking about everyone, from French judge Jean Louis Bruguiere and his issuance of international arrest warrants against top Rwandan military and civilian leaders on notoriously trumped up charges, to genocidaires in exile to genocide deniers and trivializers... their objectives have been to do everything possible in their means to delegitimize President Kagame and the RPF government; to progressively rub the gloss of Rwanda's success off and slowly turn us into a pariah in the international community; to slowly weaken all our institution and finally, in the long run achieve what they thirst for: regime change in Rwanda, in favor of a client government beholden to foreign interests, to their interests above anything else. Whatever the costs all this would be to the ordinary Rwandan, you or me, these powerful international players have absolutely no concern.
But they have miscalculated. At every turn. If Rwanda's opponents have been George Foreman, brutally hammering away at an opponent and hoping to overwhelm with sheer physical power, Kigali has been Muhammad Ali, rope-a-doping this way and that, conserving energy, delivering stinging, well-timed shots, inducing the opponent into all kinds of silly mistakes, and setting him up for the knockout punch.
Kigali has intelligently cultivated powerful friends... Bill Clinton, Tony Blair, Rick Warren, Bill Gates and many others like that... who are very effective spokespeople, talking up Rwanda's achievements in delivering on good governance and making a positive improvement in all spheres of Rwandan life. Kagame has been quite skillful in choosing which friends best help our interests, while giving us leeway to determine how to run our affairs. Rwanda has intelligent, articulate people speaking for us. Louise Mushikiwabo is simply devastating when she speaks before a group. When she recently debunked the numerous falsehoods in the GoE report at the UN, she went with three other individuals, and she was well-armed with the facts. She left them open mouthed by the ease with which she undid the GoE's "case". On the other hand the Congolese who were supposed to make a case for Kinshasa entered, forty strong, and they were loud and chaotic, and within a few seconds every objective observer could immediately make a quick assessment of where problems in their country actually stem from.
Rwanda's enemies are not about to give up. But against an organized Rwanda, with truth on its side, they will never win.