By Sonia Uwimana
The only way you could seriously believe February 5, 2013 reports about an M23 cell in South Africa planning the overthrow the Kabila government is if you are willing to believe anything.
Let’s start with the obvious: why would anyone bother going all the way to South Africa from the eastern Congo to plot against Kinshasa? Why not just plot from home like every other one of the dozens of militia groups operating with blissful impunity in the region?
And, um, one more thing: if one really, really felt that one had to organise outside of the DRC, wouldn’t one go to Rwanda and/or Uganda which, we are told again and again and again and again, are complicit in M23′s plans already? Why South Africa, which is openly hostile to M23 and its alleged allies?
The reports made no sense. Nobody who understands the first thing about the political and military dynamics of the Kivus could have believed them for a nano-second.
But the Wall St Journal, channeling Kinshasa’s chief stenographer, Reuter’s Jonny ‘Handful’ Hogg, swallowed it hook, line, and gullible sinker.
Predictably, the original reports turned out to be complete nonsense. This from the Daily Maverick in South Africa:
As the day wore on, the supposed connection between M23 and the group arrested in Pretoria grew increasingly thin, until the supposed connection was contradicted altogether later in the day.
Makhosini Nkosi, acting spokesman for the National Prosecuting Authority, released a statement on Tuesday evening firmly refuting earlier information that the group was connected to M23. “At this stage no links have been established between the accused and M23,” the statement said.
The absurdity of the Nicholas Bariyo piece does not end with reporting the M23 claims without proper checking. He also implies throughout that a delay in the talks has been caused by the release of (another) Human Rights Watch report alleging all sorts of crimes on both sides. As usual, HRW — who admits to paying witnesses against M23 for their testimony — comes up with a case of child rape because they know such crimes will incite outrage among their audience in the West. These techniques are despicable but also should be readily identifiable by discerning reporters as typical HRW donor-baiting.
How can Bariyo not see that? It beggars belief that such reports do not beggar belief among reporters who presumably have learned how to sift truth from spin.
Finally, far from being delayed, the government of DRC has announced it wants to reduce its Kampala delegation because the negotiations are almost done.
Wall St Journal, you can do a lot better than this.