On June 12, the M23 rebels blasted their way from hills with heavy artillery and bombarded Congolese troops effectively forcing them out of Bunagana border town.
Some of the FARDC troops fled to neighbouring Uganda and the rebels installed a new administration to collect taxes and secure the town.The rebels vowed to advance southwards.
The Spokesman of the M23 rebels dialed from his satellite phone, called Brig. Gen. Sylvain Ekenge Bomusa Efomi the spokesperson for the military governor of North Kivu and told him that the M23 will soon be in Goma. The general had some thoughts.
“I told him that I am not afraid to die because I will be buried as a hero on Congolese soil,” Brig. Gen. Ekenge said. “But that is not true for him. He’ll die for other people’s benefit. Uselessly.”
Major Willy Ngoma is an effective communicator and a shrewd propagandist that has kept the world informed promptly about the war theatre operations and countering Brig. Gen. Ekenge’s flawed communication about the ongoing war in the eastern part of the country.
The rebels are operating very active social media accounts especially on Facebook, twitter and readily available for interactions with journalists. However, twitter recently pulled down their account.
Almost about a month later, Maj. Ngoma’s promise to Brig. Gen. Sylvain Ekenge could be materialising as the rebels today successfully overrun government troops and captured Rutshuru a strategic town just 40km away from Goma the provincial capital.
Maj. Ngoma’s aggressiveness on the job triggers much interest from the public eagerly wishing to know what inspires him. He spoke exclusively to Mélanie Gouby, an independent journalist.
The rebel’s chief spin master was raised in Kinshasa, the capital, by an officer of the Zaire Armed Forces and became a sort of mercenary, at one point serving as a bodyguard to Étienne Tshisekedi, father of current Congolese President Félix Tshisekedi.
In 2006, he began joining forces with the officers who would go on to form the M23. “I was asked to move to Ituri [a province in northeastern Congo] and become their local point of contact,” he said. Over the years, he kept good relations with them and finally joined the M23 in 2012.
In 2013 the United Nations deployed a tough new Intervention Brigade and boosted the government troops FARDC – this alliance knocked out the M23 rebels crossing into Uganda and surrendered.
“I ended up in Uganda with Gen. Sultani Makenga, [the M23’s military leader],” Ngoma recently told Mélanie Gouby in Bunagana.
He recounted his four years with fellow fighters languishing in camps, playing soccer to pass time and teaching French to UPDF officers.
The rebels stayed in Uganda awaiting the implementation of a deal that would see them repatriated to DRCongo under certain conditions and on a case-by-case basis.
“I have four children, and I never met my youngest daughter, Liliane,” Maj.Ngoma said.
However, in January 2017, Makenga and his men decided it was time to return to their country on their own terms.
Gen. Makenga and several high-ranking officers have long lists of alleged war crimes attached to their names and will not be granted amnesty by the Kinshasa regime.
Ngoma told this journalist, “We spent five years on sabyinyo volcano, living on the slopes.” He said that all these years he was hiding on the mountain’s flanks, underfed and fighting illness. “I got sick. Very sick. We barely saw another human soul during that time.”