Last week, the Forces Armées de la République Démocratique du Congo (FARDC) went through a reshuffle predicted by the blog during the visit of US Secretary of State. The article can be found on this link (see the link here). In summary, the blog thought on the following scenarios arising from the US stance regarding the constitutional revision and the probable 3d term of the incumbent president. Among these scenarios, the blog has expected that the announcement of the “Government of National Cohesion” will be affected in terms of delay; security services reshuffle, possible dissidences within the ruling party based on regional and community belonging as well as the likely disparate course of the opposition parties towards 2016 elections. All these scenarios were expected to occur as a response and manoeuvers ascertaining 2016 elections.
Therefore, considering the role of the army towards 2016 onwards, it seems that its reshuffle was likely the most important step to be made. If succeeded, the reshuffle announces confidently the forthcoming of other undisclosed phases of the process. This is why the reshuffle gains an interest from the blogger to discuss its meaning and what could probably be expected afterward.
The reader will likely agree that, within the military structures, the last week reshuffle is the ever-made decision by President Joseph Kabila since he inherited the sliced DRC. It reminds how he had long ago dealt with an army constituted by servicemen and women who feel themselves as belonging to their rebel movements or their former militias. The security services, specifically the army would have been posing a threat even at individual level to the extent the success of this reshuffle may sound that the president had gained his functions of the Army-In-Chief. Informed observers may also refer to some bribes which may have widely occurred in the past in order to make them loyal. It was quite heating for anyone willing to rule for at least long time.
In addition, the blog considers that the reshuffle has nothing do with Security Service Reform (SSR). It tests rather if the army-in-chief functions can currently be applied and be observed. Though unfortunate that the SSR has slightly been a concern, the reshuffle aimed primarily to ensure that the president can have army commanders specifically and generally the army in its hand; differently as it was before. It is also worthwhile to notice that the reshuffle wouldn’t have currently been possible without the general support of MONUSCO, as the latter remains a dissuading mission to resort to arms and guns.
Beyond discussing individual background and community belonging, the article intends to analyze the meaning of the reshuffle as well as what can be expected in the near future.
Though military deployment, specifically within a fragile context, requires digging closely, the article has picked up few of the features of the FARDC structures reshuffle. Primarily, the reader might have come across the establishment of “Defense Zone”, linking the military region to the general staff of the Army. The establishment of the defense zone structure may explain how large has been the hierarchy within the FARDC. On the other hand, beyond creating positions to be occupied by countless army Generals, it can be interpreted as a means of delegating and coordinating the decision-making within the FARDC where “defense zone” will be closely monitoring what military regions are doing. The establishment of these defense zones has also been an opportunity to award those who have been on one way or another loyal. Strikingly, the army loyalty into FARDC may mean different things other than readers are familiar with.
The deployment of defense zones might have taken into account the existence of fragility within the Zone I & II. That is explicitly, the potential threat that may arise within these regions comprising zone I and II. The reader may unlikely disagree that Katanga, Bandundu, Kinshasa Equateur… are specifically provinces with the probability of opposing these undisclosed phases. The eastern part has been under siege of fearing neighboring countries; and large deployment of UN mission that may guarantee less violence from these provinces. Therefore, the appointment of region commanders as well as defense zone commanders stuck on this aspect. It obviously appears that the appointment and reshuffle has had individual background oversight for the sake of comprehensive future interests. Thus, individual background, whether allegedly associated to crimes or not, can be exploited for enhancing “loyalty’. In other words, the intention of leaving aside commanders background related to crimes can be interpreted as their wrongdoing did ever harm the military hierarchy.
The other main features of the army reshuffle were the nomination of a new infantry chief of staff who has been working closely with the president Kabila. Major General Banze Lubudi Dieudonné was the former chief of presidential guards before replacing General Francois Olenga, the new Chief of Staff to President Office. Though different interpretations link the nomination to “promoting” General Olenga, the other side of coin can be a promotion of General Dieudonné Lubudi who has served as close ally to the president but likely interested in promoting interests of his Province of origin. There might be a correlation between General Lubudi’s new position with the removal in office of other former allies from the same region under courts trial. That is, the nomination of the new infantry chief of staff may be leading to ‘cleanse’ the presidential guards.
Never doubt, the appointment have left behind countless “unpleasant” officers. The backbone of their unhappiness is because an officer, senior or junior within the FARDC who is not appointed, benefits anything. It means that, anyone willing to survive or making huge money has to get an appointment through which s/he can extend his power to accumulate wealth. Otherwise, you will spend hours and hours begging all around to have your family surviving. At this point, rank-and-file servicemen’s conditions are out of discussion as they remain unhuman. Thus, appointing or demise an officer sounds to be a strategy to forcibly calling for loyalty. On the other hands, those whose appointments locate into the “garage” seek to strongly express their loyalty through diverse manoeuvers.
As the army reshuffle constitutes probably a vanguard step to circumvent potential opposition of these yet undisclosed phases, the process might have relied on key guiding principles. That is, clearly, the appointment was not a lottery rather a well thought plan. The blogger believes that individual loyalty and background have been underscored in determining who is doing what, where and when. Moreover, though unfortunate, the teams building were approximately based on a shadowy mistrust among the appointees. The mistrust means roughly that everyone has been briefed by his hierarchy as the one whom to rely on. To make it clear, the defense zone X constituted by the Y, W and Z commanders; the latters have been individually?implicitly tasked to watch his colleagues as he only deserve confidence. Consequently, the reshuffle, based on mutual mistrust, will help the appointees to think twice when deciding what to do.
It is also largely guessable that most of these teams went constituted by people who never cohabitated in the past. Additionally, the team members who had been appointed will likely be working informally to reach the hierarchy even the top of the army management. The reason behind creating a mutual mistrust is that the first reshuffle has occurred roughly during the critical period requiring cleverness in terms being confident with people. Unfortunately, the informal reporting and mutual mistrust will hamper the future of the army cohesion to the extent of creating regional as well as community cleavages within the security services backbone. Even though the strategy will work in the short term, the blog suspects that in the mid-term, the mistrust is becoming a source of discontent that may be exploited on way or another by those willing to topple the security of the country. Put it simply that mutual mistrust constitutes a “time bomb”.
The reader and I wonder why all these manoeuvers and for what reason? The right person to answer this question, if these hypotheses are likely close to the reality, is…. However, the socio-political context shows an announcement regarding 2016 elections onwards is required from the rulers. The dumbness has been for so long while signals are likely showing what the intentions are. Therefore, rulers have to express clearly their intentions in order to proceed. Nonetheless, if the undisclosed phases towards 2016 are likely to raise discontent, rulers were required to think on how to deal with these potential discontents by resorting ultimately to use force.
Thus, the reader will expect to see the so-called “government of national cohesion” announced within few weeks as it is getting clear that the resigning government cannot stand as legitimate for making huge changes. Despite disagreement among the initiators of the national consultations, there will finally be a decision to form the government in order to proceed. In the meantime, the constitutional court needs to be officially established as one of the structure that could support a probable change of the current constitution. On the other hands, while waiting to see how the reshuffle test will accomplish its intended objectives, these new appointees will be getting familiar with areas where they were deployed. Their first mission stresses on dealing with key individuals and political figures who are potentially able to topple the process towards 2016.
The blog hasn’t yet come across signs leading to suspect a future confrontation between the army and the population as to this point, the police, with the shadow support of the army, can manage to cool down any protestation. These commanders appointed have rather to informally mobilizing positively local population on the necessity of keeping the current stability achievements; hence supporting the continuity of its main pillar. As matter of showing their capabilities, it is possible to come across some arbitrary accusation and imprisonment, triggered by these new appointees. As political figures are likely to be targeted by these appointees, the reshuffle will indirectly affect the opposition in a negative way. So long as the opposition is slightly improving its management and constructing ideological alliance, the key message towards 2016 from rulers will simply benefit from these weaknesses of the opposition with the probability of likely expected to worsen in the near future.
Ntanyoma R. Delphin
Twitter account @delphino12
 Defense Zone I comprising: 11e region of Bandundu, 12e region of Bas-Congo and 13e region of Equateur and 14e region of Kinshasa; Defense Zone II (21e region of Kassai Oriental, 22e region of Katanga and 23e region of Kassai Occidental); Defense Zone III (31e region of Province Orientale, 32e region of Maniema , 33e region of South-Kivu and 34e region of North-Kivu).