September 10, 2012 by soniauwimana
Regional efforts to bring about peace in the eastern DRC are met with near universal condescension among the handful of Western journalists who even bother to touch on the subject.
“Money, credibility hurdles”
It would be impossible to glean from this coverage that, since the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) focused its energies on finding a solution to the crisis, there has been a total cessation of hostilities between the rebels and the FARDC. To the contrary, you could quite logically infer that the situation on the ground must have significantly worsened. No progress is the mantra, even in the face of demonstrable progress.
Why is this?
To begin to answer that question, you must first consider who is paid to talk to the journalists in the region and what their organisations want.
Take MONUSCO, the UN peacekeeping force widely known in the Twitterverse as #MONUSELESS. This multi-billion dollar entity has an abysmal track record except insofar as it has been able to survive persistent and glaring failure (in that respect, it is a triumph of bureaucratic indefatigability). In any other field, an organisation that has so consistently failed to meet its stated objectives would have been closed down and its leaders fined or imprisoned.
MONUSELESS has a small army of PR flacks on its payroll whose job is to paper over these
cracks chasms. It has a fleet of aircraft it uses to fly around journalists and “experts” (not to mention FDLR representatives doing side deals with the FARDC). It has a hospitality budget that would dwarf the entire operating funds of the ICGLR secretariat (I don’t have the exact figures, of course, but I would love them to prove me wrong). The MONUSELESS comms division has more capacity to wine, dine and schmooze journalists than any other single entity in the region, bar none.
Which explains why we have been reading articles in the past few days attacking the ICGLR process. The last thing MONUSESLESS wants is for regional governments to get their act together. That would be its death knell. It has to undermine regional peace initiatives as a way to underwrite its survival and prevent its demise.
How else are we reading stories by AP, AFP, Reuters and others that are criticizing the ICGLR for not achieving in a few weeks what MONUSELESS has failed to do over more than a decade?
I keep saying it because it’s true: if it weren’t so damned serious, this would be a joke.