THE GUARDIAN (TANZANIA)
30th November 2009
The controversial United Nations report that accuses Tanzania of being among 25 countries with links to a Hutu rebel group in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is, in our view characterised by malice and motivated by wrongful, vicious and mischievous objectives.
For those who know Tanzania and the history that the country has passed through, such a report must have shocked them for the deliberate harm, spite and malice it sought to sow. The Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation, Bernard Membe has called on the international community to treat it with the contempt it deserves.
We are equally at pains to understand how an eminent body like the UN, through the so-called Group of Five Experts, could issue such a damning report against a country that has not only been a safe haven for people running away from war and persecution but also a time-tested peace broker and facilitator.
According to the report, Tanzania is among 25 countries accused to form an international support network for the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), a rebel group made up of Hutu refugees from Rwanda who took cover in the DRC after the end of the 1994 Rwanda genocide of over half a million Tutsis.
It claims that some phone calls were made between FDLR commanders and high level government officials in Tanzania and Burundi, and specifically accuses Tanzania of making 'significant delivery of weapons and ammunition via Lake Tanganyika to the FDLR, saying that Tanzanians were motivated by the need to retain influence over illegal trade with Congo.
These are, indeed, absurd allegations. How can a country that has been home to millions of refugees from Rwanda, Burundi and DRC, most of whom have been returning home following a semblance of peace in their home countries, fuel another conflict that would see the refugees trekking back into the country?
To accuse Tanzania of being motivated by the need to retain influence over illegal trade with Congo is the highest point of incompetence by the authors of the report.
Although Tanzania was in DRC before the 1998 war at the invitation of the regime in power to help put in place firm administrative structures following years of neglect and abuse by dictator Mobutu Sese Seko, it never took part in the war which directly involved eight African nations and whose aftermath killed 5.4 million people, mostly from disease and starvation.
Tanzania, being a cradle of peace knew that it is easier to go into war, but it is difficult to get out. It was when the countries involved in the war were tired and wanted to get out, that Tanzania’s credentials as a neutral peace broker and facilitator came into play.
We support Membe when he warns that those throwing mud at Tanzania now must be harbouring ill-intentions and are bent at tarnishing the country’s good image.
While the UN has a duty to apologise to Tanzania for these malicious accusations, the world body must distance itself from the report which is full of fabrications from people who do not serve the interests of Tanzania and Africa.
SOURCE : THE GUARDIAN