Dear Citizens of the Democratic Republic of Congo, I wish to submit my application for the job of defence minister.
I understand the key duties under this post are to provide for the safety of the people and their property and the integrity of the nation and its territory from external threats, by building a competent modern army.
Well, to begin with, my qualifications: I am an adult of sound mind who is very conscious of the defence and security needs of a country.
Being literate and fairly exposed, I am capable of procuring first-class equipment and arranging for the training of young Congolese men and women to operate it. I also know of several countries in the region that can help in the training of a disciplined national army.
Dear Citizens, you would be interested in getting an overview of my proposed work-plan before you consider giving me the job of overseeing your defence sector.
Well, once appointed, I intend to present a proposal to the Cabinet to earmark revenue from several mines for the purpose of building a national army capable of protecting the sovereignty and integrity of the republic.
I would then recruit a 50,000 strong army and subject them to serious training while paying them a salary higher than they could get in any government job or unlawful activity, say $500 a month.
That is about the amount neighbouring Uganda pays its soldiers in Somalia who have now become arguably the strongest urban fighting force in the world.
Fifty thousand patriots under arms undergoing continuous training and carrying out manoeuvres over DRC territory all the time would cost your country $300 million a year, and less in equipment.
So in all I am going to ask for an annual budget of five hundred million dollars, which your mineral rich country is capable of raising effortlessly.
Now to the benefits of my plan: The first immediate benefit will be the restoration of your country’s sovereignty and dignity. You would stop crying about this neighbour today and that neighbour tomorrow sponsoring rebels.
Second, your government would be able to police all your territory and bring it all under control. Third, there would be no need to have so-called peacekeepers rampaging around your country raping your girls and stealing your minerals with abandon.
There would also be no need to seek military help from other not-so-democratic countries. Fifth, with effective control and stability, the government would be able to focus on providing basic services.
It would also be able to start exploiting the wealth of the country for the benefit of its peoples.
And finally, your country would stop being an example used to show that Africans are incapable of running a modern state.
While in other countries we decry what we regards as high military expenditure by our governments, my view is that in your country, DRC, you need to prioritise and seek the kingdom of national security, and then other things will be added to it.
Hoping that my application will receive your due consideration, I remain yours sincerely, Concerned Neighbour.
Joachim Buwembo is a Knight International fellow for development journalism. E-mail: [email protected]