La Guerre des Chiffres: Une constante dans la politique au Nord Kivu

Published: 1/Oct/2000
Source: L'afrique des Grands Lacs Annuaire

Par Stanislas Bucyalimwe Mararo


In an effort to contribute to a better understanding of the local stakes, overshadowed by regional geopolitics, our reflection turns to an update of a rather old issue, namely, the controversy regarding the number of ethnic groups in Northern Kivu Province (East of the Democratic Republic of Congo). Despite the lack of reliable data, we have been fed with unchanged and often, unfounded figures for decades. This study is about the surrounding rhetoric, the deep motives behind it as well as its political implications.

Using various sources, the analysis highlights the ambiguities of what Professor Sekimonyo wa Magango calls “the struggle for social and political influences and the conquests of spaces of different communities settling Northern Kivu”. From the confrontation of converging and contradictory facts, three findings emerge.

Firstly, the publicized figures are intended to mislead public opinion. The irony is that only those who held power and greatly benefitted from it loudly and widely complained. As exemplified by the charges from both the Nande and the so-called Banyarwanda group, the complaints about political misrepresentations and the use of the ethnic figures to boost political claims have two related motives: to cover continuing wrongdoings by the search of scapegoats on the others’ side and, at the same time, to justify some setbacks or shifts in top positions through alarmist and buzzing discourses. On the contrary, the marginalized segments of the society were forced to silence and to agree on the conditions of submission.

Secondly, the “official mind” bears the hallmark of vicious practices. The exclusion and oppression have been the corner-stone of politics and policies since the weeks following independence. Yet, the officials consistently took the ordinary people’s sufferings with disregard and scorn and never questioned their mishandling of the problems in the Province. Instead, they often chose to resort to forcible means for the implementation of their wishes and unwritten goals. In this stratagem, the easy targets of recrimination were the poor, the weak. The latter’s move to challenge and resist the misuse of power and related hardships was always violently crushed. If this fact went unnoticed in the past, it is not the case today. The bottom line is that any solutions taken on the basis of wrong targets lead nowhere. They widen ethnic cleavages and worsen the situation on the ground rather than curtailing them and alleviating the sufferings of the great majority, regardless of the ethnic membership, political background and ideologies.

Thirdly, fair political competition requires a change of such practices. This implies the setting up of new rules of the game, the commitment to power sharing and peaceful means for the settlement of grievances and problems.

Article in French.

Télécharger: La Guerre des Chiffres (PDF)

Link to publication website (University of Antwerp).

Themes: Discrimination, Ethnic/Racial/Religious, Internal Citizenship
Regions: Democratic Republic of Congo
Year: 2000