analysisBy Mukuchana Hanyani
For years, African leaders and rebels seemed to be ignorant of some dangers associated with their failure to negotiate when they are in conflicts. Some of the rebels in Africa have mastered the art of using force in order to change governments. A lot of them manufacture non-existent reasons which are then used as basis to start a war.
A look at the two scenarios in the current situation in Mozambique where the Mozambique National Resistance (RENAMO), leader Alfonso Dlakama and his followers left government for the bush. Another scenario is that of the M23 rebels in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) which is currently engaged in a protracted civil war with the DRC government.
These two scenarios show that African rebels are good at being used by foreigners to kill and maim their African brothers and sisters for no apparent reasons. They do not want to negotiate to resolve conflicts. It is interesting to note that the two rebel groups, though operating in different countries, their alleged grievances seem to have been coined by the same person with the same objective in mind, that of removing current leadership in their respective countries.
In Mozambique, Renamo is alleging that the government has failed to honour what they agreed upon twenty years ago when the civil war ended. They claim that the Frelimo government is enjoying the national cake while Renamo is being fed with left-overs. It further alleges that former rebel forces were not integrated into the Mozambican national army, rendering them useless in the country.
Armed with those grievances, Alfonso Dlakama and his group left government and went to camp at his former base at Gorongossa in anticipation of waging a war against President Armando Guebueza-led government.
He is now accusing government of not taking seriously his concerns and vowed that Renamo rebels were prepared to make Mozambique return to where it was, twenty years ago if his grievances were not resolved.
On the other hand, the M23 of the DRC led by Jean-Marie Runiga seems to be singing from the same hymn book with the Alfonso Dlakama-led Renamo. They are also blaming the government of President Joseph Kabila of not integrating former rebels, mainly the Tutsis, into the DRC army.
The rebels are accusing government of reneging on a March 23, 2009 agreement that former CNDP rebels would be integrated into the national army. They are also claiming that since the end of the civil war, the government has been ignoring the former rebels resulting in them being recognised as ordinary members as well as appearing as useless citizens of the country. Surprisingly, the M23 goes on to say that the government is failing to observe human rights, governance and also that the government is not democratic.
Now a lot of questions could be raised if an African rebel group is fighting a host government for it to observe human rights and governance issues. Here we are not saying that Africans are alien to human rights and governance issues but that language is synonymous with a foreign hand at play.
Since when did African rebels try to teach ruling parties to observe human rights? Is that not ironic for rebels who are killing innocent and defenseless people to rush into saying that they are fighting for human rights and governance issues to be observed in the country?
Recently M23 was reported to have taken over the city of Goma from government, the regional capital of mineral-rich North Kivu region on the border with Rwanda and Uganda. They are now threatening to go as far as Bukavu, Kisangani and Kinshasa if the government fails to agree to its demands. They are not concerned with the blood shed which they are causing as they advance inland towards the DRC capital city. They want to make sure that Joseph Kabila is overthrown and their man is installed.
As the two countries, Mozambique and the DRC ,are under such horrible situation, are SADC and the African Union (AU) really sure of what is supposed to be done to avoid humanitarian catastrophe in those countries as supplies of water and electricity could be diminished because of such civil wars?
Surely SADC and the AU should not stand akimbo and relax while the two rebel groups are being used to destroy their countries. It is the duty of SADC and AU to restore sanity by convincing rebels to negotiate with respective leaders of their countries so that humanitarian catastrophe which is imminent in those countries is avoided.
Individual countries should not shoulder that burden by militarily intervening as western countries with interests in those two countries may interfere. Some of the countries, especially in the SADC region, might be concerned with events unfolding in Mozambique and the DRC, making them to think of militarily intervening, but that cannot immediately bring solutions to those conflicts. The best thing to do is for those countries to persuade SADC and AU to force those in conflicts to negotiate for sanity to prevail.
SADC and the AU should realise that taking a back seat while indications of wholly fledged wars are imminent, with DRC already under attack from M23, is not proper. Lessons should be leant from what took place to the so-called Arab springs last year which swept across the Arab world. It was the reluctance and failure of the AU to take immediate action, which caused the assassination of former Libyan leader Murmur Gaddaffi by the then Libyan rebels.
Hanyani is a Harare-based political and social commentator.