Lambert Mende, the inimitable Congolese minister of information, is anything but understated. A few days ago, he seized on the Easter Mbandaka attack, during which a small band of rebels killed two civilians and ten members of the security forces, to lambaste the UN peacekeeping mission. He accused them of having done nothing when rebels killed a trader right under their noses. He compared this to their inaction during the Kiwanja massacre of 150 civilians in November 2008, during which MONUC also stood by and did nothing. A bit of a stretch, Lambert.
But the reason for his vitriol is obvious: His government wants MONUC out, wants desperately to tell the country on June 30, the 50th anniversary of its independence, that it can take care of any security problems itself. Mende is quite an orator, it’s worthwhile reproducing part of his speech:
These events remind us of the discourteous mockery of those who, in our country but above all abroad, call without scruples for the maintenance and prolongation of MONUC’s mandate in our country….[Their] speech is seasoned with miserablism that appeals to the interest of the “poor Congolese,” without any doubt too “poor” to live in freedom and dignity.
It is time to remind these “friends” that one cannot pretend to help a people while trampling its dignity. Instead of trying to seize real power in the Congo in the place of the state, ostensibly to help the Congolese, it would be good once and for all to listen to the Congolese who tell you, together with the thinker John Holloway: “In your way of acting or not acting for us, refrain from alienating those in whose name your say you are engaging. Don’t do anything for us. We will do it ourselves.”