November 27, 2021

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When Tribalism Becomes a Silent Killer in the DRC Politics

It is simply mind-boggling and outrageous! Like the Marburg virus and the Ebola hemorrhagic fever whose contagion effects spread like benzene fire, tribality leads to ruthless effects of clan struggle against each other, especially at the level of political institutions and within the population, as is the case in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Unable to consolidate the veracity of his claims, with supporting evidence, before the Constitutional Court, with which Fayulu contested the 2018 presidential election results, he and Lamuka incited the population in Tchangu, the stronghold of “M’pangi + M’pangi = M’pangis ”to allegedly avenge his power usurpation by the balubas. Dumbfounded MLC parliament member, Jean Jacques Mamba (Luba) made the observation on Top Congo airwaves in front of a distraught Christian Lusakueno, when he noted the silence observed by Fayulu and Muzito to crowd appeals, chanting hatefully to do with all balubas during one of their many meetings in this capital city suburb. Tribalism is a problem long left on the back burner since the Round Table negotiations in Brussels; nothing was done thereupon. Often political groupings’ leaders of the time who took part in it, hid independence in their pockets so that balubas, bakongos, bangalas and others would not steal it, supposedly; a real game of blind man’s hack! But the virtuosity of this issue was worth all its trouble that it was transformed into a theatricalization, in a comedy format like, for sneers intended to relax the people and de-stress them from their daily misery’s burden. The ballot truth claims were by no means a flash in the pan.

Some appropriate decisions taken by the Mobutu regime had failed to deal with ethnicity exogenous and endogenous causes which would quickly change, for the worse, the course of the republican evolvement, especially in the army. “This routed army is not mine, it is a clan’s; what Kabila is doing, I should have done it a long time ago. There is only one worthy army, and that is the DSP. And it is monoethnic”, said the Army General, Donatien Marc Mayele Lieko Bokungu, CFMG-Army Chief of Staff during the AFDL war, at a convened meeting with the French: General Lacaze (long-time Donatien friend), Colonel Alain Gagneron de Marolles known as Colonel Saint-Julien of the DGSE (Special External Services) and Fernand Wibaux who would report to Dominique de Villepin, then Special Advisor to Chirac at the Elysée. For these experts, it was necessary to prepare this four times starred Zairian General, to take power with the help of France, once Mobutu is out of the new political cliché. Mayele confessed to them his inability to gather around him the men of honour in an army embarked on the process of accelerated “ngbandization”, him, a Mbunza. It was the Ngbandis Generals – Mobutu-‘s ethnicity, Nzimbi and Baramoto, who headed the Special Presidential Division (DSP) and the Civil Guard, units which were excellently pampered at the expense of the FAZ, left in disuse. He also had his cousin General Eluki, also former CFMG with whom relationships were very tense to the point of total collapse.

Mobutian clanism was going to have harmful consequences, as Mayele was no longer fearful and knowing that the war was lost in advance by FAZ, the army chief, Donatien Marc Mayele, feeling betrayed by the Ngbandis officers, would deliver intelligence to AFDL troops under heavy fire from DSP in Kenge (the only serious fighting AFDL troops were heavily involved in their march towards the Zairian capital from Uvira) by FAZ (Armed Zairean Forces), with the support provided by Jonathan Savimbi UNITA soldiers. This was the famous “fifth column” lurking in the opposite camp that Francois Sudan spoke of. It (5th column) had provided them with information on enemy positions: the DSP and UNITA. General Mayele had made information available to the AFDL military leaders. Intelligence gathered had allowed AFDL to defeat Zairian army last position. Then it was an open boulevard towards Kinshasa for the liberators, early May 1997, without bullets crackling.

The grotesque caricatural perfidy is for the opposition to believing that RDC current administration under the leadership of Félix Antoine Tshisekedi Tshilombo, proceeds with appointments based on tribalism; that the lion’s share is reserved for balubas with decision-making power in key positions within a Sacred Union where partnering parties and independents collecting leftovers only. False! The opposition role is not to “tribalize” current administration; the minority plays a fundamental role in the functioning of institutions in a republic where it fulfills its duties as a counterweight to the power it does not exercise. In the DRC, Lamuka, FCC (for what remains of it in any case) should take advantage of these Udpsian years of power, to host seminars and workshops within political parties or partisan platforms and think about national policies that would promote structural reforms based on new speeches towards, by way of illustration, the reduction of malnutrition rate, morbidity infant mortality rate which are in full swing throughout the national territory. Since the election of Félix Antoine Tshisekedi Tshilombo into power as President of the Republic, the people expects from Lamuka, PPRD and allies in the FCC, a civic commitment for a better tomorrow as well. At no time has the current opposition provided at least concrete statistics relating to agricultural or industrial production, the volume of jobs creation or even savings made in connection with banking services; mistakenly thought to be a flagship achievement by Prime Minister Matata Ponyo, under FCC leadership. It is an opposition which lives in an ivory tower, not mastering anything connected to the daily living conditions of inhabitants that it envisages to govern tomorrow, except the tribalist attacks perpetuated throughout the days against the President of the Republic, its power and UDPS, without major impact on the lived experience.

It would be decent to avoid scabrous subjects. These tribal, ethnic and clan harassments dryly water the political climate and identify, through the leverage effect, those opponents whose notorious inability to think borders on the worst rational quotas in statistics, the profit pursuit for lucrative outcomes and financial gain remain their main harvest. By what mercantile mechanism could one reap without having sown? Eloko ya makasi (iron made nation)! It is in the DRC where the law of least effort has found fertile ground for its popularization. The systems in which opponents good behaviour dares, are more likely to frighten a power than the systems which strive to howl tribalism, without fear of regulations or legal sanctions, even if this Congolese democracy, with multiple stammerings, allows it, not without deep remorse and regret. Like birthing pains represented by scenes of screaming, agitation, anger and mixed joys where the violence and intensity from painful sensations remain obvious to the observer, DRC opposition is looking for bottle-feeding from state coffers with an acuteness of recklessness to unspeakable superlatives – it gets by even at the level of political leaders and politicians. Tribality is a hemlock, the lethality of which annihilates Congolese thought with the major consequence of removing think-tanks organs to germinate governance policies among political parties’ headquarters. The minority that does not assist the ruling power makes it ineffective, arrogant in the conduct of government action for the good of the people, to becoming dictatorial.

The tribal notion opens the way to animosities which can confuse all human rights, without an absolute detachment from one’s own feelings, in relation to opinions voiced by others. Thus, in 1975, the beginning of discontent was extricated from soldiers closed circles within the army. Successive tribal purges were carried out against Zairian Armed Forces (FAZ) officers whose ideas or their tribal/regional origins made them suspect in the face of Mobutu. Captain Joe Ndjoku, a Saint-Cyr army school graduate, had been quoted as approaching Mayele, who had just taken over the military command of the Kotakoli Soldiers Training Center, to explain the merits of a pending coup. Furious, Donatien retorted, “Do not ever tell me about it again!” Mayele had chosen not to punish the officer, and had arranged to exfiltrate him to Europe, with the utmost discretion. He had a presentiment of the fate this putschist apprentice would suffer from, as soon as Ngbandis Generals were informed. But he was well aware of frustrations experienced by his comrades in arms, despite his exemplary loyalty to Mobutu; he understood everything indeed.

1975 failed coup led to a trial involving Colonel Raymond Omba Pene Djunga, the main conspiracies’ target by Equatorians, Mobutu’s brothers. In the aftermath of the verdict which sanctioned the trial, all military conspirators who were convicted, had benefited from the presidential pardon. There were generals Daniel Katsuva wa Kasivira, Utshudi Wembolenga and Fallu Sumbu, Colonels Mudiayi wa Mudiayi and Muendo Tiaka, Majors André Mpika Ntoya and Bula Butupu Bakajika. Rationality was based on the tribal affiliation of the brain behind the coup; his (Gen Omba) Mongo acquaintances were placed above guilt – tetelas of Sankuru and Nkusu in Maniema being Mongo first cousins in Equateur, the province the late Marshal hailed from. This was not the case in the 1978 trial; in delivering his verdict, FAZ Military Judge, Likulia Bolongo, then Colonel, convicted 78 of 91 so-called coup plotters before demanding harsh and tribal sentences against them. The other 13 were sentenced to death: Majors Kalume and Panubule, Colonels Biamwenze and Mwepu, Lieutenant-Colonels Mwehu, Tshunza and Engineer Kalonda, Captain Fundi, including civilians in the matter, Matanda, Bouryaba, Kudia Kubanza and Makani. Living abroad, Monguya, Kadiebwe and Jean-Alidor Kalonga have been sentenced to death in absentia. While these soldiers and civilians harboured the hope of receiving the Pardon from the President, they were all taken to Angenga prison where they were executed on March 18 at dawn, without knowing whether the President had granted or rejected their recourse. In these two situations, the presence of a Mongo cousin saved the whole squad from the supreme punishment in the first case, while in the second, because they were from these provinces: Bandundu, Kasai, Katanga and very few from Bas –Congo, they had no escape or survival window. Ethnicity is always a precursor to something else, the gestation of social, political and economic conflicts which lead to general and widespread conflagration. This is pure humanistic pyromania.

The political genius deployed by Mobutu had reduced tribalism, ethnicity and regionalism, generally speaking, in a certain context. The appointment of regions’ governors did not follow a logic aligned with the clan, tribe or ethnic group, as well as their deployment. Having been at the front during secessions in the early hours of independence, Joseph Désiré understood the danger of such cleavages arbitrarily implemented at the Berlin Conference and exploited by the colonist. The success recorded by governors who did not come from the provinces where they were assigned, had contributed to the rooting of a patriotic feeling of belonging to Zaire, before everything degenerated with the perestroika and glasnost hurricane in early 90s. This is how governors like Konde Vila Ki Kanda in Kivu, Duga Kugbetoro and Kakule Mbayingana in Mbuji-Mayi, Zamundu in Kananga, Louis Alphonse Koyagialo Ngbase te Gerengbo in Katanga, also Tshiamala Tshingombe, Makolo Jibikilayi, Malumba Mbangula in Bas-Zaire and Jonas Mukamba Kadiata Nzemba, Kititwa Tumansi Benga, Mpambia Musanga Bekaja in Mbandaka to name but a few, were hailed as heros in provinces they were working. Konde Vila Ki Kanda had always been elected Member of Parliament for Goma, although he was originally from Bas-Congo. Duga Kugbetoro is credited with the victory of Sa Majesté Sanga Balende wa Bajelo ni Basantu in the Zaire Cup football competition against AS Bilima at the May 20 Stadium in 1984, as well as the notoriety of the infamous folk music group who performed popular songs at the glory of the Founding president, as part of Mopap’s activities at regional level. Duga joined in the jubilation of Sanga Balende’s victory and wiggled his hips to the rhythms of “Kamulangu wa Kamulangu” and “Ntumba wa Nseya” in his official residence located in the residential compound for MIBA executives and cadres. Without any protocol for that matter as usual, he invited the population who had eaten and drunk at their own volition, until the wee hours of the morning. It was during this festive mood that he addressed the people of Mbuji-Mayi in Tshiluba, audibly and intelligently.

From there, Analyst of Sociopolitical, Security and Military Issues, Jean-Jacques WONDO OMANYUNDU repeatedly recalls the clan tribalism under Mobutu whose merits are praised as a patent unifier, peacemaker and ubiquitous Zairian republican unifier, of course posthumously , that: “It is then that a group of Ngbandi hawks around Ngbanda, including Professor Vunduawe te Pe Mako, General Etienne Nzimbi Ngbale of DSP and General Philémon Baramoto- Ngbanda circumstantial ally, would begin to ascend a series of cabals against non-Ngbandi. They made Mobutu believing that the Ngbaka, a reputed warrior tribe that had many good soldiers within DSP, were planning a coup to overthrow him. General Jean-Pierre Somao Gbodo Mbele, an Ngbaka from Libenge and Emmanuel (Dungia, an Ngbaka from Gemena, in Sud-Ubangi, officials in diplomatic post at the Vatican (1986-89), would be singled out. “

Implementing the nation’s policy means seeking to alleviate the impoverishment and misery of the Congolese, find appropriate solutions to their concerns, by placing and appointing experts and technocrats in key positions. For the President of the Republic, His Excellency Félix Antoine Tshisekedi Tshilombo, only meritocracy, expertise and technocracy should appear as selection criteria for political positioning, without reference to tribal and ethnic flagellations provided that inhabitants are satisfied in fine, also by adopting a policy which tends to improve the gross domestic product (GDP) with a consistent part reserved for the Congolese; a policy that creates wealth without direct investments abroad, or foreign direct investments (FDI), also called international direct investments (IDI) by OECD – international movements of capital carried out with a view to creating, developing or maintaining a subsidiary abroad and /or to exercise control (or significant influence) over the management of a foreign company. Unfortunately it is a sad political and economic climate in the DRC at present, with banks, the extractive industry, telecommunications and other new information and communication technologies (ICT), buildings and public works which are predominantly foreign-owned companies.

These tribalist taunts by Lamuka and certain crooked politicians, far from being a deprivation of peace of mind for the President of the Republic Félix Antoine Tshisekedi Tshilombo to focus more on finding solutions to multiple challenge faced by people on daily basis; they shall, however, be interpreted by those in power that the people scrutinize every decision-making and every stage of advancement and achievements that is applicable to fulfill their aspirations. It would be idealistic to invent and adopt a strategy, a model that would be replicated when considering the proliferation of tribal associations. In Haut-Katanga, for example, it is common to learn that an association of nationals from somewhere within the province recommends individuals in positions of public responsibility to release such or such other political authority from prison for financial embezzlement and financial malfeasance, even for any crime for that matter and offer support; ditto for nationals of Equateur with Cardinal Ambongo and in Grand Kivu in the case of Kamerhe Vital, Bas-Congo, except for Kasians for the moment.

It should be noted that early’80, CND leader Mokolo was at loggerheads with the President’s Special Security Advisor Seti Yale, another Ngbandi mestizo (coloured) in addition to Kengo wa Dondo. Mobutu will confront the two and settle the matter amicably and in a family way, being all from the same tribe. Whenever there was a conflict in the security apparatus run by the Ngbandis who blamed each other for Mobutu’s attention, they were spared; no exemplary sanction against them, which had never been the case for the others, even if he had arrested Mokolo in 1980 (whom he released a few weeks later to send him as Ambassador to France) before dissolving the CND. This service will come back to life later with the establishment of the National Research and Information Center (CNRI) and the creation of the National Intelligence Service (SNI). CNRI and SNI have evolved into AND which Mokolo had led as Director General before being replaced by Army General Likulia Bolongo as part of consultations with the people – late in ‘80s.

When Honoré Ngbanda was assigned to the External Documentation Department within the National Documentation Center (CND/DDE), the security climate had taken a different turn. Between 1972-1973 he had carried out training courses in Germany, from where he returned with a specialization, and worked as Principal Assistant to the Director of External Documentation Service, Edouard Mokolo wa Mpombo. He will be transferred to Belgium to manage the Zairian cultural center at the Embassy of the Republic of Zaire. He will take the opportunity to recruit spies and infiltrate Zairian circles in order to identify those Zairians who collaborated with the ex-Katangais gendarmes. This way of doing things was not pleasurable in the eyes of Ambassador Inonga Lokonga Lome. Honoré sent a BI (Information Bulletin) to Kinshasa in which he accused the Ambassador of having come into contact with Monguya André in 1979; lie! Lokonga Lome was recalled and replaced by Léon Kengo wa Dondo who had never wanted to work with Ngbanda. Kengo is a native of Libenge (Sud-Ubangi), in the former province of Equateur (North-West), while Ngbanda is a Ngbandi from North-Ubangi. The two men will hardly like each other throughout their journey alongside Mobutu, luckily they were inbred with the President. The opposite would have resulted in exterminations and quick executions.

After delivering his speech on October 4, 1973 in which he severed diplomatic relations with Israel, Mobutu reversed his decision 9 years later following the restitution of Sinai portion to Egypt. This new opening with Israel had been made possible by discreet missions undertaken by the National Documentation Center (CND) headed at the time by the duo Nkema (General Administrator) and Ngbanda, his Deputy. Another fratricidal struggle had taken place for the appointment of the future Head of Diplomatic Mission in Tel Aviv. Nationally and regionally (Equateur), the two camps around the President clashed. On one hand, Jean Seti Yale, then Mobutu’s Special Security Advisor, on the other, Nkema Liloo, the head of the CND’s external services, competed for influence with Mobutu, and Seti, then all-powerful, wins the game. He had his protégé, Mbuze Nsomi, appointed as Ambassador to Tel Aviv; a bitter pill for Honoré Ngbanda who dreamed of this position. To dampen Ngbanda’s revengeful ardours, Mobutu appointed him Minister-Counselor at the Zaire Embassy in Israel. He took advantage of his stay in the Hebrew state to get up to speed with new intelligence and espionage techniques with Shin Beth, the Israeli Internal Security Service and the Mossad (Institute for Intelligence and Special Affairs) . Like a real fox, Ngbanda was starting to drown his Chief in false reports that he sent regularly to Kinshasa. After having had enough, Mobutu decided to make Honoré Ngbanda Ambassador Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Zaire in Tel Aviv on January 1, 1984, in place of Mbuze redeployed to Senegal. Nkema Liloo camp won this time but how? All means are good as long as they lead to the satisfaction of the objectives. Security services where cunning, treachery, tribalism, influence peddling, ethnicity and jealousy were the working standards, not in the service of the nation, but that of a single personality, perpetuating Mobutian power, whatever the methods, as long as one is Ngbandi.

Having achieved his second objective, after the very strategic diplomatic post in Tel Aviv, Ngbanda wants to please Mobutu more through qualitative work. He brought Bielo back to Kinshasa and appointed him his Chief of Staff. This is the heyday beginning for “cop” Ngbanda whose performance was greatly appreciated by Mobutu. A situation that disturbed the opposing camp,, and later Ngbanda opponents had learned that behind Ngbanda excellent work, there was Bielo, his brainpower. People in Seti camp informed Mobutu that it was Bielo and not Ngbanda who was responsible for AND quality work. It is then that Mobutu decided to create within AND, two new departments: the General Secretariat and the position of Deputy General Administrator in charge of internal security (number two) to dilute the cop’s incredible influence. By dividing and conquering, Mobutu appointed Bielo as AND Secretary General, a job tailor-made by Mobutu who understood that Ngbanda was not the brains he thought he was; he gave him “false” reports to neutralize his competitors. He was nicknamed Ngbanda “Wa Mvene” -Ngbandi which means liar. A Ngbaka Maboa from Libenge (like Kengo and Bemba Saolona), Bielo was going to deal directly with the Zairian Marshal, happy with his performance. He would give him certain directives without Ngbanda knowing to simplify information.

Tribally and in light of reports issued by Jules Alingeti , the head of the Inspectorate General of Finance, the number of Lubas involved in financial embezzlement is infinitely small compared to other tribes. The premises of such logic entail that the lubas were marginalized from the public affairs management by the Kabila regimes. Moreover, there is only the Luba tribe, of all the tribes in DRC, which was expelled from another province, killed, tortured, expunged, expulsed manu militari, even the Ngbandis who are not native indigenous tribe, and whose origins are located in South Sudan (Ndaywel) were spared similar ignoble treatments, yet the lubas represent about 20% of the total population. Mobutu had banned all investment in Mbuji-Mayi until 1984 when Mukamba Kadiata Nzemba, MIBA’s CEO began talks with authorities at the time to ease restrictions. It was an irresponsible decision that hardened in the 1990s when the Lubas, wealthy diamond dealers, established direct flights linking Mbuji-Mayi to Johannesburg. Wetrafa, Vantraska, Fontshi, Kadima Mao (sung by Simaro in Merci Ba Pesa Na Bua hit), Madimba lined up 4 to 5 flights per week to the delight of the local population. This joy was curtailed by the government decision that all flights bound for Mbuji-Mayi should go through Kinshasa for screening, control and check; including domestic flights from Grand Kivu on which were essential foodstuffs for the Grand Kasai population. Being landlocked, SNCC was plotting against the interests of this province. Its leadership trickled goods from Zambia, Zimbabwe and South Africa to Kasai via Mwene-Ditu. POFUKAS (Pompe Funèbre du Kasai – Funeral Parlour Service), a company that had belonged to this article author’s father-in-law, often lacked the fuel needed to keep the Parlour afloat. It was obvious that even dead, Lubas were still being hated and punished 6 feet under; it was forbidden for Mr François Ntumba Kazambu (father-in-law) to transport fuel to Mbuji-Mayi by plane, departing from Kinshasa. The only alternative available to him was to negotiate with SCNCC in Lubumbashi and at a golden price, to supply the company. He had had enough and could no longer stand up to such shenanigans that he decided to quit by closing down, sending workers into joblessness. To this day, this population still wonders about the essence of such wickedness on behalf of authorities in Kinshasa against Kasai people well-being, much to the chagrin of Mobutu who showed his pusillanimous appraisal. The coalition government of Prime Minister Ilunga Ilunkamba had applied the same policy reported on the airwaves by Steve Mbikayi then Minister of Social Affairs. Disbursements were done for certain provinces except for Grand Kasai; whenever it was discussed, Ilunkamba vetoed it. Why?

Former MIBA CEO Jonas Mukamba Kadiata Nzemba said in a recent interview with Christian Lusakueno on Top Congo that during its fat cow period, MIBA has repeatedly provided financial assistance to companies like SNCC, Air-Zaire , ONATRA and so on; to others, it lent them the company’s private jet that both Kabila regimes used until it disappeared. Also lucrative financial benefits resulting from sales of the Kasai diamond internationally, contributed to the construction of large buildings under the 2nd Republic, including the domain of Kawele and the Marie-la-Miséricorde chapel-crypt which houses the family vault in Gbadolite, an enormous estate designed by the Senegalese architect Pierre Goudiaby at the request of Marshal Mobutu, now in deplorable state. History will remember that the lubas, originally from Kasai where the diamond is mined, do not take advantage of it as it should have been the case, the diamondiferous polygon, a deposit which contains significant reserves in the periphery of MIBA , was a “no-go zone” fiercely guarded by a special escort guards. It is the diamond mined in small mining scale by itinerant diggers that a large number of diamond traders would buy. In 1977, Mobutu overnightly dispatched a death squad which had turned young diggers into a butcher’s shop – the Katekelayi Massacre – on another diamond deposit. Bad faith strewn with tribalism exercised in the native stronghold. The kabilas chose to pertpetuate the odious treatment reserved to lubas, President Mze Laurent Kabila neglected everything related to his function as the Head of State and prerogatives, he had improvised as a seller of precious stones and diamonds were no exception. He was such a bad trader because he had no experience whatsoever in dealing with precious stones commercially. He had hidden a 32-carat stone and had Ngoyi Kasanji, the owner, arrested. Joseph, the son, had worsened the situation by completely destroying this MIBA which had, singlehandedly, endured the financial slate inherent to 2nd war, without being able to renew its production tooling. Stirring the knife in the wound, the young Kabila abandoned MIBA, to build his own diamond company, SICAM SARL, which operates in full swing in the territory of Miabi. Daring to pin tribalism in President Félix Antoine Tshisekedi leadership, is a carefree frolic, when the Kabilas regimes deliberately stopped MIBA diamond mining operations which the Grand Kasai was dependent upon, to impoverish Kasai population. MIBA was the only major employer in the entire province. Many workers became unemployed and no on wondered about their well-being, including their families, offering a platform to Israel Mutombo of Bosolo na Politique (avidly boasting of being an investigations journalist-nuance please), to pass a harsh judgment on nationals, opinion leaders as well Kasai politicians, to have neglected their own province without any knowledge regarding the rationale behind Kasai Oriental demise and its impactful consequences.

General Mayele, a true “warrior” had acquired a notoriety and a scale popularity after having landed in Kolwezi, leading 31st parachute brigade – CETA and held the airport until the arrival of French legionaries and Moroccan soldiers under Colonel Loubaris in the midst of the Shaba war. This bravura had attracted him the admiration of the then CFMG, General Bumba, a Mbunza, FAZ Chief of Staff and especially Colonel Ikuku whose nickname “Serpent de rail” earned him tribal and ethnic jealousy (musakata of Bandundu ) until his combat helicopter was sabotaged resulting in a crash that caused his death. A valiant fighter, a seasoned soldier, Donatien Marc, Army Lieutenant-General, quite rightly so – more than civilians of the caliber of Baramoto, did not succeed in promoting a national army with “ngbanditized” leadership in excess. He was rarely in good terms with his then authorities, due to his non-Ngbandie origins and his excellent virtues. Often his life was saved thanks to his regionalism – from the same region as the Founding President, otherwise he would have been subjected to the law of Leviathan and physically eliminated like many before him, like Colonel Tshibangu (a Luba killed in a camouflaged road accident), and one of the first three instructors in charge of the Commando Training Center in Kotakoli with a Belgian officer, Major Bebronne, who created it in 1965 and Brigadier General (now) Engona Kamba – a Libinza whose bravery and techniques in combat in both Shaba wars, have never been talked about because of his southern Equateur tribal origins – the Mezzogiorno of the province. Mayele was the beneficiary of one of the President’s final largesse; he owned avast land, his Ebonda farm, which had cost him U $ D 1,000,000.00 – a huge sum, a gift from Mobutu through the intermediary of former governor of the Central Bank of Zaire, Nyembo Shabani. He remained there during his lean period (until his recall by Mobutu, ill, to finish off Kabila and AFDL – alas, it was already too late), and ensured its commercial profitability with a key contract entered into with Marsavco for the supply of palm oil. Great army officer, Mayele was pictured to play a prominent role in the post-Mobutu era, but Kagame fiercely opposed the idea. The Rwandan president recalled that it was during fighting against the FAZ, under the leadership of Mayele, teaming up with Juvénal Habyarimana troops, that the RPF very first military leader, Commander Fred Rwigyema was killed.

Ethnicity had reached its climax when, with the fall of Mobutu regime, Mobutu called a meeting in which Mayele, Likulia and Ilunga took part. In it the trio (Army Chief of Staff, Prime Minister and Minister of Defense respectively, the last two being members of the last government in the life of Mobutu) had asked Mobutu to leave Kinshasa heading for Gbadolite, because they would no longer ensure his safety in Kinshasa. Mobutu refused! But at the second meeting that he would convene in the evening, the same day, only the Ngbandis generals were invited, including Bolozi, Vungbo, Nzimbi, Wezago, his deputy as DSP head and, on the phone there was Baramoto. At this 2nd meeting, voices were raised to pinpoint treachery from certain generals who had to be eliminated. Mobutu informed them about his departure for Gbadolite the next day, and it was up to anyone to fend for themselves. Once separated late at night, the generals headed for Baramoto Kpara “Barafeu” residence in GB suburb where they gathered for the third time in 24 hours, with only Ngbandis officers. In the early hours of the morning, when the meeting was over, they set up the list of traitors with Mayele as the main culprit. At the same time, they were also molding a coup against the Marshal for abandoning them supposedly. They felt orphaned and unprotected as ADFL was advancing at fast pace towards Kinshasa. By pure intuition or humanistic genius, the flair of the presidential pilot, Mukandila (a luba), had proved to be saving with the favourable opinion by the late lieutenant-colonel, Motorola Elabe Hilaire-Motoko (see picture), the Marshal’s loyal bodyguard until his death. He passed away on Monday August 9th, 2021 in Liege (Belgium). They saved Mobutu from assassination by his own; Mukandila took off the presidential jet, for the last time, against the wind at Ndjili airport. “Thus sounded the death knell”!

Mostly Tribalism is often opposed to national unity and cohesion notions which transfigure the Congolese economy and initiate a real impetus towards emergence. Ethnic particularism can shift into regionalism which prevents people integration and which favours the emergence of secessionist identity movements. The Katanga and South Kasai secessions are a result of tribalism. Are the appointments of Kabedi Mbuyi as Central Bank Governor, the election of Professor Dieudonné Kaluba Dibwa as President of the Constitutional Court, more powerful than the appointments of Matungulu to AfDB, Jules Alingeti as IGF CEO, Nyembo as President Chief of Staff, Kasongo Mwema Yamba Yamba as spokesperson for the President, Ngindu at the Presidential Press, Sam Lukonde as Prime Minister, Kyungu wa Kumuanza as SNCC Board Chairman, as well as the election of Bahati Lukwebo as president of the Senate and Mbosso Kodia Puanga to that of the National Assembly Was it not tribalism when Noël Tshiani called by Mze Laurent Kabila to take over as the Central Bank of Congo governor in 1998, came up against the categorical refusal by Laurent Désiré Kabila’s companions in AFDL and his brothers from Katanga, who had all opposed the appointment of a Muluba at the head of the national issuing bank notes? It turns out to be paradoxical that two Prime Ministers, Antoine Gizenga and Adolphe Muzito, all hailing from Bandundu, succeeded each other in the Prime Minister’s office without the Congolese mentioning the number of mpangis who had found work there while no one made any allusion to tribalism . The number of “mikubus” and fufu casseroles cooked in the courtyard of the Prime Minister office compound (Mike Mukebayi) during breaks bore testimony to the tribal climate mood in the courtyard of the Head of Government’s office. An amnesic tribalism, which is applicable to Lubas since Mutomb had succeeded Jean Claude Masangu, all from Katanga as Central Bank Governors. For the very first time in the existence of the DRC, a Muluba was appointed Governor of the Central Bank; opponents voiced their concerns as one to cry tribalism. Nothing of the sort was expressed when 4 governors of Equateur were appointed Central Bank Governors: Jules-Fontaine Sambwa (1970–1977), Charles Bofossa W’ambea Nkosso (1977–1979), Jules Croy Emony Mondanga (1979–1981) and Jules-Fontaine Sambwa (1981–1985, second term); an inhuman display with visceral hatred against Luba people and population.

In the practice of his surgical repair operations on Congolese women, Dr Mukwege never makes any distinction relating to tribal and ethnical origins of all his patients; and the tears he has always shed in view of these atrocities following rape, are not for the women of his tribe only, they are national, moving and touching everyone. This is the correct attitude in building a nation’s initiatives. It would be prudent to focus on what unites the Congolese rather than what divides them; tribalism is lethal. The President of the Republic, his government and the parliament, shall consider the feasibility to amend certain provisions of the constitution so that they conform with national realities on the ground. Also, it would be advisable to appointing Dr Mukwege, Minister at the new Ministry of ‘National Integration, as an illustration of national unity, brotherhood, sisterhood and tolerance to one another. Secondly, provincial governors should be appointed to slow the proliferation of ethnic brainstorming by the Head of the Republic or body set up to that end.

Paraphrasing Professor Fweley Diangitukwa: “ The Congolese must have the courage to look at tribalism and question about its wrongdoing. A tribalist Congolese citizen remains compartmentalized within his tribe. What happens outside of his sphere interests him little if not at all. In his public or private life, this tribalist Congolese is exclusively concerned with the development of his family, his tribe, his region of origin and his province or community. The modernization of other regions or the country as a whole does not interest him, if not very little. Tribalism always hinders the blossoming of national sentiment. ” Tribal wars thus identified previously, open the way to ethnic partitions and promote the development of tribal consciousness to the detriment of national consciousness. It is in this context that tribalism will always remain a big obstacle to development.

The Democratic Republic of Congo, a gift blessed and so cherished by its citizens, is prohibited from cultivating and maintaining tribalism. Ethnicity will give rise to a malaise which will take hold within the public administration and which will result in illicit enrichment, arbitrary and untimely measures of revocation, suspension, retirement in defiance of legislative and regulatory texts in force, the slowness in processing files for State career agents, appointments against nepotism background, patronage, lethargy or even laxity in correcting decisions taken by mistake or tainted with irregularities. Its corollaries will also be multiple: thousands of civil servants will be affected by these injustices, the ministers will set up a clientelist team of civil servants, general secretaries, directors and other executives will be suspended outside the procedural legal frame, or they will be decommissioned for no apparent reason. Others will be falsely brought to justice, and even if they do win, for lack of evidence, ministers would refuse to reinstate them in their initial positions and ranks. No country has succeeded in building up substantial reserves to revive sectors of economic growth and ensure its independence through tribal and ethnicity practices implementation.