When it come to post colonial Africa, it hasn’t been easy for Africans living in mineral rich regions, as powerful elites want to compete with all available means to access the wealth including at the cost of human lives. The funding of rebels is one example to protect the ‘rights’ of multinational firms in a particular region when the government is too weak to protect or is uncooperative.
Bosco Ntaganda is one example among rebels operated under such circumstances in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, with infamous M23.
Ntaganda was born in Rwanda in Virunga mountains range in the Musanze District. He fled to Ngugu-Masisi in eastern DRC when attacks on his fellow ethnic Tutsi started in Rwanda. He joined Rwandan Patriotic Front rebels based in Uganda at the age of 17. Ntaganda acquired Congolese citizenship at some point.
In the early 1990s Ntaganda fought with the Rwandan Patriotic Front and participated in the overthrow of the Hutu led Rwandan in 1994. Ntaganda then joined Patriotic Forces for the liberation of Congo (FPLC), the military wing of the Union of Congolese Patriots (UPC), and became it’s chief of military operations. Ntaganda was very notorious warlord as he involved in numerous massacres and other serious human rights abuses. He famously told child soldiers; “When you’re a soldier, you get a woman for free. Everything is free.”
Ntaganda was offered a position as a general in the Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of Congo as part of a peace process in 2005, but he refused the offer. Ntaganda was sanctioned by United Nations Security council committee on Nov 1st 2005 for violating arms embargo.
Ntaganda joined Laurent Nkunda’s National Congress for the defence of the people (CNDP) in 2006 after conflicts within the UPC. Despite being wanted by the ICC, Ntaganda served as a General in the Congolese Armed Forces as the CNDP was incorporated into the Congolese armed forces.
Ntaganda was living openly in the city of Goma in DRC, playing tennis in expensive resorts.
General Bosco crossed into the border twice into Rwanda while attending funerals, despite travelling ban imposed by the United Nations Security council. Rwandan officials said that they had no objections to Ntaganda crossing the border. They argued that Ntaganda contributes to peace and security of the region, which was the aim of Rwanda.
In late 2011, United Nations groups of experts reported that Ntaganda controlled the Mungwe and Fungamwaka mines, near Numbi, through the Great Lakes Mining Company managed by Edson Musabarura. He also obtained profits from mineral exploitation in other areas like Nyabibwe, with the alliance of Saddam Ringo. Bosco gained large revenues from taxation levied at Rubaya by mine police.
President Joseph Kabila ordered the arrest of Bosco, on 11 April 2012, after Bosco’s forces clashed with the government forces in the Rutshuru region.
On 16 March 2013, Sultan Makenga’s forces seized the control Kibumba town, this led to Ntaganda’s forces of around 200 fighters retreat to the forest, while hundreds others crossed into Rwanda with 300 M23 uniformed.
Bosco was convicted of war crimes by ICC and his arrest warrant issued in 2006.
Ntaganda surrendered to the US embassy in Kigali, Rwanda, and requested to be handed over to the ICC.
He was convicted on all 18 counts brought on against him, although he denied, former Child soldiers were witnesses against him. On November seven 2019, Bosco was sentenced to 30 years in prison, the longest sentence ever handed down by the ICC. He is the first person to be convicted of sexual slavery by the ICC.