Congo Siasa

Kabila’s visit to the East

Kabila has been on a PR-blitz recently, visiting much of the country, including restive Equateur & the Kasais – both areas favorable to the opposition – and, this week South and North Kivu. In Bukavu this week, he chaired a meeting of the council of ministers and gave a speech to the population about insecurity and the FDLR operations. South Kivu has changed dramatically since he was elected with 98% of the vote there in 2006. Infrastructure projects have only made slow progress and, above all, insecurity has spiraled out of control. This month, the headlines were full of the attacks against the Catholic church. A nun and a priest were murdered by FDLR and other unknown bandits in Kabare and Murhesa, two parishes north north of Bukavu. Here is a list of incidents the Catholic church brought to the president’s attention:

  • CIHERANO (Walungu): Attack and looting of church, kidnapping of priest and seminary student at 20 o’clock, October 3, 2009. The next day they were freed after paying a ransom of $5,000.
  • · NYANGEZI (Kabare) : On October 5, 2009, the school run by the Marist Brothers was attacked and looted.
  • · KABARE : Attacks of the Mukongola hosptial, two doctors were seriously injured.
  • · KARHALE (Bukavu): The Father Jérôme NDAYE was attacked by men in police uniforms at 19 o’clock.
  • · KABARE : Attack of the parish and murder of the Abbot Daniel CIZIMYA on December 6, 2009.
  • · MURHESA (Kabare): Murder of Sister Dénise KAHAMBU at the monastery, December 7, 2009.

The Catholic church in Bukavu, led by Msg Maroy, has traditionally been supportive of Kabila. But they are becoming more and more disaffected with the situation in the Kivus. Still, the letter they wrote to him was cordial and couched their demands within a sentiment of support for his presidency. They concluded:
CONCLUSION : le peuple du SUD KIVU qui vous a massivement élu vous fait encore confiance et compte sur vous pour donner un message de plus fort pour que plus jamais le sang des innocents ne coulent dans notre province .At the same time, former Governor Norbert Katintima appears to be trying hard to position himself as Kabila’s man in South Kivu so as to replace Vital Kamhere, who fell into disgrace earlier this year. Katintima, who is also from the Mushi ethnic community, has entered Kabila’s inner circle this year (he is the minister of agriculture) and has taken part in several important missions for the president. Many Kivutians are very cynical about this: Katintima was governor of South Kivu for the RCD ( I think between 1999-2002) and was resented by much of the population for his corruption, disdainful attitude towards the local population and civil society, rampant human rights abuses and the creation of his own militia.

Katintima was on hand during Kabila’s visit, and later led a meeting of the PPRD (the main presidential party) in Bukavu. According to people who attended the meeting, as well as UN sources, he handed out $2,200 for “dissemination of the presidential address” and another $2,000 “for Christmas festivities” to PPRD leaders. A sad state of affairs.