Patriotic Resistance fighters known as “Wazalendo” set up taxes in Binza, warns human rights activist in Rutshuru

Patriotic resistance fighters known locally as the “Wazalendo” are accused of harassing tax collectors in Binza, Rutshuru territory, North Kivu.

Since November 2022, the Binza groupement in northern Rutshuru territory, 100km from Goma on the Congolese-Ugandan border, has been under the control of groups of resistance patriots commonly known as “Wazalendo”. This area was under the control of the 3412 FARDC regiment before the arrival of the M23 rebellion.

From Ngwenda to Ishasha (50km), the Wazalendo have erected several barriers where motorcyclists have to pay taxes without receipts at each barrier, ranging from 500 FC to 2000 FC. For vehicles, one has to pay $50,” says Aimé Mukanda Mbusa, one of the notables of the aforementioned territory and a human rights activist.

Community work called “Salongo” is compulsory for the peaceful population of each village, and after the salongo the Wazalendo give each participant a token. And if you don’t take part in the salongo, you’re supposed to pay exorbitant fines, and some people are even flogged to death,” he continues.

Some Wazalendo have become businessmen, and instead of protecting civilians, they hold them to ransom and abuse them. Yet these Wazalendo are even natives of the area.

The same source informs that among the Wazalendo are those who cooperate with the M23, and asks the Congolese government to take charge of the Wazalendo. If it doesn’t, they risk becoming a time bomb, and it’s not enough to simply say that they are reservists without being identified. They need to be identified and then taken care of,” concludes our source.