In an unprecedented diplomatic gaffe, the other day, DRC Permanent Representative to the UN, Georges Nzongola Ntalaja accused Rwanda of fueling unrest by supporting a militia group and stealing gorillas and chimpanzees from the DRC to Rwanda. And he said it all with a straight face. I could not contain my amusement.

Speaking to a friend in the diplomatic corps who attended the session and listened to the presentation, he told me that ”it was so sad and embarrassing to watch.”

Ambassador Ntalaja also vehemently accused Rwanda of plundering the DRC’s natural resources, especially gold and cobalt. Attempting to support his ridiculous accusations, he stated that there was a UN report — but a senior moment found him tongue-tied — he could not remember the title of the report.

CAUTION: The video below contains falsehoods and distortions most viewers may find it offensive.

Ambassador Georges Nzongola Ntalaja at the UNSC

Time and time again, the DRC leadership has blamed its weakness and corruption on Rwanda, but the world knows better. For three decades there has not been peace in the DRC, from one president to another. The economy is in shambles, and millions of Congolese have died from famine and preventable diseases, not to mention out of control armed conflicts that the government in Kinshasa has failed to contain. Millions have died while more live in refugee camps under deplorable conditions that the Tshisekedi administration has failed to address.

But, let me address this monkey business of Rwanda stealing DRC’s gorillas and chimpanzees. I am embarrassed to address this subject, but since it became a subject of debate in the most august forum of diplomacy I must shed some light.

Monkey is among the delicacies on bushmeat menus in the DRC. When it comes to figuring out what animals qualify as food in the DRC, most people there follow a simple, unspoken rule: IF IT CAN MOVE, IT CAN BE EATEN.

Monkey meat being sold in a DRC market

But such carefree culinary spirits, though, make wildlife conservationists shudder — particularly in the DRC, where a thriving bushmeat trade is threatening to wipe out some species. At great risk are great apes found only in the DRC — eastern lowland gorillas and bonobos, or pygmy chimpanzees.

It is estimated that a few thousand commercial bushmeat hunters supported by the timber industry infrastructure will illegally shoot and butcher more that $2 billion worth of wildlife this year, including as many as 8,000 endangered great apes, according to the California-based Bushmeat Project.

No, Mr. Ambassador, think again.

According to the World Bank, per capita annual income in the DRC averages $100 a year. By contrast, bush-meat hunters can earn up to $1,000 annually.

Sad to say, in the DRC profound poverty and years of conflict have deprived most of the option to be picky.

The good Ambassador accuses Rwanda of plundering the DRC’s mineral resources. Bunkum.

Amb. Georges Nzongola Ntalaja

The culprit is China. Chinese state-owned and private companies have been purchasing and processing minerals obtained from partisan sources in Katanga and elsewhere since the 1990s. In 2008, a US$8 billion resources-for-infrastructure deal was signed between a consortium of Chinese State Construction companies and the DRC’s state-owned company Gecamines.

Not long ago, a community of 300 families was forcibly evicted from Luisha when the Chinese mining company CIMCO acquired rights to their land. The villagers were never compensated.

Mr. Ambassador, you want to know who is milking the DRC and plundering your mineral resources. look at European and Asian companies, including Bangkok-based THAISARCO, a subsidiary of British metals group AMC. Look at UK-based AFRIMEX. Look at Belgium-based TRADEMET. These are the companies that are funding armed groups and fueling conflict. And none are paying a penny in taxes

For your information, THAISARCO, the world’s fifth largest tin producing company, their main supplier, Panju sells cassiterite and coltan from mines controlled by the FDLR — the goons who planned and executed the genocide against Tutsi in Rwanda in 1994.

Mr. Ambassador : give me a break. Get off your high horse, do your homework and leave this childish talk accusing Rwanda for your government’s ineptitude where it belongs. In the trash bin.