Friday, 14 September 2012

Kagame: Is It Strange For Rwanda To Have “Economic Interests” In DR Congo?

President Kagame holds bilateral meeting with President Kabila on the sidelines of the African Union Summit in Addis Ababa, 15 July 2012 (Photo : PPU)
President Kagame holds bilateral meeting with President Kabila on the sidelines of the African Union Summit in Addis Ababa, 15 July 2012 (Photo : PPU)
When the Chinese or Americans have companies in DR Congo making deals; that is fine for the world to live with. Similarly, can’t Rwandan individuals and companies have the right to take part without Rwanda being accused? President Paul Kagame asks in a new interview: “How can we be guilty of that?”
Mr Kagame tells Time magazine if there are any Rwandans or their companies doing business in eastern DRC, there is nothing wrong with that. “What right do other companies from China, America and wherever have to be in Congo that companies from Rwanda do not have? There are companies there from all over the world,” wonders Kagame.
For years, media coverage and campaign groups have printed report after another highlighting how Rwanda is depending on DRC for its economy. UN reports have claimed minerals from eastern DRC are exported through Rwanda. Some quarters have pointed fingers directly at President Kagame and some individuals in the Rwanda government as profiteering from the DRC amid its chaos.
“The relationship between Congo and Rwanda has been there since time immemorial. Why has it suddenly become strange?” says Kagame. “There is a lot that goes on between us. It’s not about trade or smuggling. It’s a blood relationship. To say this is all about Rwanda’s business interests is very simplistic. People who go to do business in Congo do not have to ask me, just as people who come from Congo do not have to ask me.”
He added: “They are saying Bosco Ntaganda has a house in Kigali. So what? I don’t know anything about that. But I do know that there are ministers in Kabila’s government who also have houses here. Congolese investment here because it is safe here. We have a lot of foreigners coming here and building houses. Maybe, if you looked carefully, you would find that Kabila himself has a house here. I don’t know. But I would not be bothered. We do not differentiate when it comes to money unless it is money that you killed people for or money that is questionable. But if you invest here, what’s the problem?”
“Who’s making such accusations? The same people. They say: “That’s how Rwanda earns a living. By being in Congo.” And all along this – mobilizing support for their side, raising money for their campaign – it’s actually an economic interest for them. It’s actually how they make a living. So I don’t even understand the meaning of the accusation.”
President Kagame said Rwanda’s concern in DRC has been security for the last 18 years. “You are saying we’re interested because of economics. Deal with the security so that it does not exist and then we can all see what crimes we are committing in our economic interests,” said Kagame.
There are FDLR rebels in DRC – some of whom are wanted in Rwanda for executing the genocide and fleeing into the safety of the massive DRC forests.
He however admitted that not all players in the DRC conflict are to blame. He spoke about the Congolese rebel group M23, Human Rights Watch and why he works 24/7 to put his country back to normality. The President also speaks about the aid cuts, particularly saying the $200,000 suspended by the United States, was actually “money that they owe us because for two sequential years they did not pay us.”


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