Tshisekedi’s “self-defence” charade fanning the flames of hatred in the DRC’s wild west

The DRC’s politics of hatred, rooted in a history of senseless ethnic animosity, are once again on full display, thanks to Congolese ruler Tshisekedi, the nation’s security apparatus, and a motley crew of extremist groups posing as “civil society”. These include Veranda Mutsanga, Lucha, and Filimbi, who seem hell-bent on taking the country further down into a self-destruction path.

It is essential to emphasize that this politics of hatred is not a new phenomenon; it predates the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda and even the arrival of the Rwandan Patriotic Front on the Rwandan scene. The seeds of this divisive strategy were sown by a lowly sergeant of the colonial troops, Mobutu Sese Seko Kuku Ngbendu Wa Za Banga. He was placed in command of Zaire by France and Belgium after assassinating Prime Minister Patrice Lumumba and sought to divert attention from the bankruptcy of his regime by fanning the flames of xenophobia.

The strategy found popularity, and opposition politicians eventually adopted the same divisive slogans. In 1993, this violent xenophobic campaign targeted “foreigners” of Rwandan origin from North Kivu, both Hutu and Tutsi. In 1995-1996, the massacres specifically targeted Congolese Tutsi, following the arrival of Hutu Power Brigades and militias who were responsible for the genocide of over one million Tutsi within a mere 100 days in 1994.

The discourse of hatred has only intensified since then, accompanied by conspiratorial theories that today allow President Tshisekedi to engage in quick ideological manipulation of his supporters. Yet, there is nothing rational about hatred, except for the delusions of its proponents and the short-sightedness of their political machinations. Recall how in the 1930s, Adolf Hitler persuaded millions of Germans that Jews threatened the “Aryan race” and, consequently, the very survival of the German people. As conquests, aggressions, discriminations, and exterminations multiplied, did the Nazi leader ever cease to justify his actions as “self-defense”?

Similarly, under the pretext of “self-defense,” proponents of Tshisekedi’s ideology in the DRC have embraced a dangerous form of racist propaganda. Tragically, they have resorted to violence against their fellow Congolese perceived as Tutsi, all in the name of countering the alleged “Rwanda aggression.” However, this purported aggression is, in reality, a baseless conspiracy theory fixated on combating what they alone perceive as fighting the “Tutsi power in Kigali” and the establishment of a “Tutsi buffer zone in Kivu.”

In the words of Josué Wallay Akuzwe, a fervent LUCHA activist and a young Congolese, “You can eliminate a revolutionary, but you cannot extinguish the spirit of revolution. We will persist in our struggle to rid our nation’s soil of this Tutsi presence.” Unfortunately, many others, like him, who are semi-literate, traumatized, and mired in poverty, have become susceptible to the toxic propaganda propagated by Tshisekedi, to justify his ineptitude especially as the DRC approaches its impending elections.

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