Opinion: Burundian government support of Mayi-Mayi in Kivu Provnices; is it a ploy to keep Kabila in Power?

The instability in the Democratic Republic of Congo has been used by the other states in the Great Lakes Region. This has been done in the past by both Rwandan and Ugandan forces, even South Sudanese rebels has been on DRC territory at some point. Therefore, its a massive change that the Burundian support of rebels. Seems like it been used as propaganda tool by the Bujumbura government. That President Pierre Nkurunziza is using his CNDD-FDD youth militia the Imbonerakure, to create havoc at the neighbor country in collaboration with the Mai-Mai Yakutumba.

There is even an agreement flooding online between Mayi-Mayi Jejero Pelican and representative of the Burundian government Eltienne Ntakuratimana, who wrote an agreement on the 8th February 2017, where the Burundian counterparts would supply guns, ammunition and radios to the Mayi-Mayi group in response of taking out the Rwandan counterparts in the region.

So first after giving a short insight to who the Mayi-Mayi militia is, I will give one report on the Burundian enterprise in the Democratic Republic of Congo, before showing my thoughts on the manner. Where the different rumors are combined with critical thinking on the actors in the conflict of the Kivu’s. Who earns and what purpose. Take a look!

A tale of who the Mayi-Mayi or Mai-Mai is explained nicely here:

This inter-community power conflict is shaped by and shapes antagonistic identities, which are firmly rooted in specific worldviews. In the case of the Mai Mai Yakutumba, this worldview is constructed around the idea of “autochthony”, or the concept of being a “Son of the Soil”, the “original” inhabitant of a certain zone. In this perspective, which is shared by almost all Mai-Mai groups in the DRC, the self-styled autochthonous groups are threatened by the Rwandophone communities (Hutu and Tutsi), who are seen as “foreigners” trying to take over their land and power. Betweeen 1996 and 2003, “autochthonous” and Tutsi (often Banyamulenge)-led groups clashed on numerous occasions in southern South Kivu, and there were several ethnically targeted massacres on both sides. The resulting mutual distrust and dislike continue to feed Mai Mai movements like the Yakutumba group, which serves to many Babembe as a psychological safeguard to avoid that the Banyamulenge will extend their power in Fizi and will come to dominate the Babembe” (…) “It is in part this function as a safeguard that makes Yakutumba fairly popular among the Babembe, although many do not approve of armed struggle and are tired of the war. What also contributes to Yakutumba’s popularity is that he is perceived to symbolize and embody what are seen as typical Bembe characteristics and values, such as resistance against domination and repression, not only from other ethnic groups, but also from the central government. This self-imagery is in part the product of a tradition of Bembe resistance dating back to the colonial era, the Mulele rebellion in the 1960s and the Fizi-based rebellion of Laurent-Désiré Kabila under the Mobutu regime. The Mai Mai Yakutumba place themselves explicitly in this tradition, which implies a strong animosity towards Kinshasa. They consider the regime of Kabila jr. to be complicit with the Rwandophones and their plan to ‘balkanize’ the DRC, backed by resource-hungry imperialist powers” (Verweijen, 2011).

This shows the plans and added support of the group from Burundi would serve their purpose, as well as give them strength to create havoc in the Kivu’s. Since they want power and be different than the Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of Congo (FARDC), also different from FDLR and ADF. Who all have been militias contributing to violence and weakening the control of these eastern states of the Republic. As well, being proof of the lacking control that the Central Government from Kinshasa has in the region. With all the eyes that we’re on M23 who has had armed insurgency and also tried to gain control of the area. It’s wouldn’t be the first try someone who has supported a group like Mayi-Mayi/Mai-Mai has done it in the Kivu’s, to show Kabila and his government, that they want to be a force to be recon with.

Very few smart commentators aside. However, Gibert-Bécaud Njangwa, president of the association ONELOPE-Burundi (mobility) finds that the capture of Uvira by Yakutumba would destabilize peace and security in Bujumbura. He is not talking about a threat from some Burundian rebel group. But he suspects that behind Yakutumba is the invisible hand of the West: “It is very likely that Burundi is attacked by mercenaries from Congo Kinshasa so that the West can destabilize peace and security in the subregion. The Government of Burundi must be vigilant, if not the plan of destabilization is well conceived, planned, it can be executed from one moment to another” (…) “Another reading by the former communication commissioner of the Burundian opposition platform CNARED: “Uncontradicted evidence shows that Mai-Mai Yakutumba are working with Burundian intelligence, Imbonerakure militia in DRC, Interahamwe militiamen who are also allies of the Burundian regime. We have evidence that Mai-Mai Yakutumba are supplied with weapons from Bujumbura, we also know that elements of the regime are fighting alongside them. “(Ngendakumana, 2017).

If all of this isn’t bad enough, there are speculations that National pour le Renouveau et la Democratie (CNRD-Ubwiyunge) and Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), who is Rwandan counterparts in the same region. CNRD-Ubwiyunge have been an armed militia who has tried to gain control. While the FDLR has been more trying to recoup strength to go back and take their motherland back again from the Rwandan Patriotic Front(RPF). Therefore, the troubles of the region, also transpires in the Kivu States. So, the problems and the power-struggle of Burundi is now reaching the mineral rich Kivu’s and Uvira.

There reports that both CNRD and FDLR has been fighting together with Mayi-Mayi this month and in the battles for Uvira this week. If that is likely or true, than it wouldn’t fit the pattern and the history of the Mayi-Mayi, but they are accepting foreign support from Burundi, so if they would use help of Rwandan supported groups. It would be more powerful and even stronger, in the region where the FARDC and MONUSCO is lacking manpower and resources. If they had enough and if they could, they would have been able to banish these groups long time ago, but the Kabila government is keeping them. Just like he is accepting insurgency from Kisoro, Uganda into Southern Kivu, since its from the friends that brought him into power.

There is even further conspiracy that Pierre Nkurunziza is working together with Joseph Kabila to make instability and insurgency, so that there is no need for another election and end of his term. Secondly, the support and the instability is made to make sure the FARDC could get support from French Government, which they can use to invade and control the Rwandan Government. That is only plausible, if the French wants to challenge Paul Kagame, since he has distanced himself from Paris during recent years. Thirdly, the Burundian government would use their relationship with Kabila and Paris to gain proper capital to their struggling economy. So the trade of arms to militias in Kivu Provinces, would enrich the weak Bujumbura government.

Sidebar: We can just wonder if even Emmanuel Macron would care about these places, since he is more into make-up, then international politics, just remember his ignorance towards the African continent earlier this year. Therefore, parts of me doubt it, but French involvement in regime change on the continent isn’t new, but would a risky project for the newly elected French President to pull-off. Even more seasoned leaders has struggled with doing so.

Sidebar II: It is more reasonable to use this insurgency to enforce the need for Kabila, just as the running battles in Kasai-Orientale, which has killed dozens and made massive amounts of mass-graves. So that his leadership could again regain peace, but this is different. Just like the sudden movement of M23 from camps in Kisoro in 2016 and early 2017, that just fitted the paradigm of using militias as pawns. The innocent lives in the Kivu Provinces to let Kabila government rule a little longer. The same could be possible yet again. This time instead of having either Rwandan or Ugandan supported militias, it would be the cash-strapped Burundian government, who would need the financial support and the trade with the groups. Clearly, it makes it more plausible, as the net of well-wishers are dwindling for Bujumbura as well.

We just have to wait and see, what is fact and what is fiction. What we do know is that that Bukavu and Uvira has seen violence and insurgency this last few days. That the DRC/RDC has seen militias growing in strength and if foreign states are interfering in the Kivu’s. Peace.

Reference:

Ngendakumana, Phillipe – ‘Et si les Maï-Maï Yakutumba prenaient Uvira, la ville de Bujumbura serait-elle menacée?’ (30.09.2017) link: http://www.ikiriho.org/2017/09/30/burundi-rdc-mai-mai-yakutumba-prenaient-uvira-la-ville-de-bujumbura-serait-elle-menacee-monusco/

Verweijen, Judith – ‘Guest Blog: Profile of Mai-Mai Yakutumba’ (01.08.2011) link: http://congosiasa.blogspot.no/2011/08/guest-blog-profile-of-mai-mai-yakutumba.html

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