What you need to know:
As a matter of policy and national interest, Rwanda would not like UPDF overstaying in the DRC. The DRC leadership in Kinshasa also says ‘there is no more the UPDF can do.
I am supposed to be fairly familiar with issues in the Democratic Republic of Congo. And so, a European diplomat recently asked me about UPDF’s Operation Shujaa in DRC. ‘When do you think UPDF will leave DR Congo? ’I told him the war between Ms Marie Claire
Mboyo Moseka and Ms Elisabeth Muidikay needed more attention than the UPDF’s withdrawal from the DR Congo. Ms Elisabeth Muidikay ‘accused’ Ms Marie Claire Mboyo Moseka of having Aids. In response, Ms Mboyo Moseka cleverly ‘accused’ Muidikay of being old. Ye azali lokola mana na na ngai (She is like my mother).
The two fighting Congolese ladies are well known to Ugandans. Mboyo Moseka is Mbilia Bel and Muidikay is Tshala Muana. They are fighting (on social media) over some ka-money a government official gave Mbilia Bel as her facilitation to attend and manage some aspects of the funeral service of the late Mr Lolendo Matumona (General Defao).
The matter of the two fighting ladies ended at President Felix Tshisekedi’s desk for a peaceful resolution. So, there are many ‘important’ stories in DRC that would render Operation Shujaa a small matter. Which is why I was not surprised when the Commander of the UPDF’s Lands Forces tweeted that Operation Shujaa would cease in two weeks.
The Commander of the UPDF’s Lands Forces hinted on the expiry of the agreement the reason for the UPDF’s exit from the DR Congo. Well, I recently published a story titled ‘So, what is the current status of the UPDF in the DR Congo?’ in which I subtly hinted on the UPDF’s withdrawal from the DRC.
But we think there could be more than just that. Truth is apart from the war between Mbilia Bel and Tshala Muana, there is a buzz in the military and political circles in Kinshasa concerning the UPDF operations in the DRC.
It is captured in this Lingala line: mwaye ya kosala lisusu ezali te (there is nothing more they can do). The areas in which the UPDF was operating were under a state of emergency. But the general feeling in Kinshasa is that the state of emergency in Nord Kivu and Ituri should be lifted as the country prepares for next year’s elections.
It is clear that the restoration of the civil leadership in Nord Kivu and Ituri would impact on Operation Shujaa. The Congolese will go for elections in December 2023. As would be expected, the national political dynamics would definitely militate against the presence of foreign troops on Congolese soil. Yet the level of cooperation between President Tshisekedi and Mr Museveni is so deep that Mr Museveni would be tempted to support Mr Tshisekedi’s re-election (under whatever circumstances). With UPDF presence on Congolese soil, that runs the risk of attracting other regional actors. Just in case it came to that, on which side would regional powerhouse Rwanda be? Your guess is as a good as mine.
In the minimum, Rwanda would be expected to be on the side opposed to Uganda. That is why regional observers should keep a keen eye on the Muhoozi-inspired new military co-operation between UPDF and Rwanda’s armed forces. As a matter of policy and national interest, Rwanda would not like UPDF overstaying in the DRC. The DRC leadership in Kinshasa also says ‘there is no more the UPDF can do’. How will Uganda and Rwanda relate to political leaders as the country heads for elections late next year? Is a united Rwanda and Uganda good for the region? Will this co-operation mitigate policy differences in the region? No. Please vote with me on the ‘no’ side.
Mr Bisiika is the executive editor of the East African Flagpost. [email protected]