DR Congo President Felix Tshisekedi is a man on a mission. A delegation he sent to Kigali this Saturday for meeting with President Paul Kagame, speaks volumes about what his intentions are.
The fact that he sent a high-level delegation to Kigali is not been much of a big deal. But looking at who was on the delegation, is latest sign that Tshisekedi is done being a “marionette”.
On Saturday evening, November 7, Village Urugwira, Rwanda’s Presidential Office announced on Twitter: “President Kagame today received a Delegation from the DRC who delivered a message from President Tshisekedi in view of the good bilateral relations between Rwanda and the DRC. President Kagame discussed with the delegation how to advance further the existing cooperation.”
It added: “The Delegation also briefed President Kagame the political situation in DRC&the political consultations being undertaken by President Tshisekedi. President Kagame gave a message of support to his counterpart as he seeks a political solution to the hardships the situation presents”.
What the Twitter announcement didn’t mention is what is actually more significant. The composition of the delegation.
President Tshisekedi didn’t send the Foreign Affairs Minister Marie Ntumba Nzeza, any other member of government or from the political partners, as had been right from when he came to office.
The delegation to Kigali had an unusual, but not surprising person; Fortunat Biselele, whose official position in President Tshisekedi’s office is “conseiller privé du Chef de l’État” or private secretary (advisor) to the head of state.
In Kinshasa political power corridors, Biselele is referred to as “gardien des secrets” or keep of Tshisekedi’s secrets.
Biselele has known the Tshisekedi family for more than 20 years. He is one of those young men, from Tshisekedi’s home province of Kasai, whom the late Etienne Tshisekedi kept to his side. Biselele stayed in the household to date.
It is reported in Kinshasa media that there is no decision President Tshisekedi takes unless it is approved by Biselele. He moves with Tshisekedi wherever the head of state goes.
At the beginning of Tshisekedi’s presidency, it was his now-jailed former chief of staff Vital Kamerhe, who came to Kigali when Tshisekedi needed to deliver a message. Actually, publicly, two of such visits are known. Biselele was also part of these delegations.
With Kamerhe in the coolers fighting for his own survival, and Tshisekedi in open political fight with his predecessor Joseph Kabila to assert his own self, the President has for past two weeks been meeting different political and tribal leaders.
He has even met two members of the opposition coalition; Jean Pierre Bemba and Moise Katumbi. The other three have refused so far.
By sending Biselele to Kigali, President Tshisekedi is clearly mapping his own path as he positions for a possible breakup with Kabila come 2023.
Biselele is reported to have established a clandestine cell that is setting up a reelection machinery for Tshisekedi in the 2023 polls.
Another member of the delegation to Kigali was Tete Kabwa, a close confidante of National Security Advisor François Beya, himself an all-powerful force in Tshisekedi’s inner circle.
In the meeting with Kagame, was Secretary-General of the National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) Maj Gen Joseph Nzabamwita, Security Advisor Gen James Kabarebe considered the Congo fixer, and State Minister in charge of EAC Affairs Prof Nshuti Manasseh.
From Rwanda, the same Kinshasa delegation is said to have headed to Egypt to deliver another message to President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi.
According to recent revelations, Al-Sisi is one of three African leaders who are the guarantors of the secret alliance which Tshisekedi signed with Kabila before the latter agreed to cede power to the former. The others are Kenya’s Uhuru Kenyatta, and South Africa’s Cyril Ramaphosa.