Painting by Cheri Samba

Lokuta eyaka na ascenseur, kasi vérité eyei na escalier mpe ekomi. Lies come up in the elevator; the truth takes the stairs but gets here eventually. - Koffi Olomide

Ésthetique eboma vélo. Aesthetics will kill a bicycle. - Felix Wazekwa

Monday, November 21, 2011

As election dates approaches, fears of delays grow

A last-minute delay in the election appears to be likely, according to several separate diplomatic sources in Kinshasa. The sources, who wished the remain anonymous given the insistence by the election commission that elections will be held on November 28, said that it would extremely difficult to deploy all necessary materials on time. However, one of the diplomats suggested that the commission thinks it will be less controversial to present the various actors with a fait accompli: a brief delay of the polls.

However, other sources, including the election commission and the UN peacekeeping mission, believe it is still possible to hold elections on time.

The logistical task for the election commission is daunting. The last election materials are reportedly arriving today or tomorrow and have to be distributed to 210 distribution centers. The United Nations has mobilized its substantial fleet of airplanes and helicopters, but the materials will have to be distributed to 64,000 polling centers. In addition, the Congolese government has been able to obtain crucial support from both the Angolan and South African governments, who are deploying aircraft to the country, as well.

If the elections are indeed postponed, it could create unrest, depending on how the UDPS and other opposition parties react to the news. The main opposition party has been adamant that elections be held on schedule and that results be announced by December 6, when Kabila's constitutional mandate expires. However, some UDPS officials have in private suggested that they could accept a very short delay, as long as elections are held by December 6. It is not clear if this view is shared by the entire leadership.

Crucially, on Friday the Comité national de médiation du processus électorale was set up in Kinshasa,  a "group of wise men" that is supposed to mediate in case of electoral unrest. The group is composed of seven Congolese civil society and religious leaders.

47 comments:

Anand said...

Interesting. Thanks for the update. This issue of whether the elections will happen on time really is the million dollar question. The continual game of "wait and see" is a little gut-wrenching to watch.

Anonymous said...

The group of "wise men" sounds great and is a likely effort at stabilizing things should, well, things spin out of control once the results are announced.

Any idea if this new institution of the Congolese could evolve into a transitional council should we get to that point? Also, who's on it? Anyone know?

I've kinda longed believed UDPS/others are essentially going to push to declare any result that does not favor them as fraudulent, perhaps then engage in mass demonstrations, force the international community to respond once the authorities crack down, and push for some kind of transitional authority to maybe call a constituent assembly, pass a much improved constitution, and then hold elections.

Yeah, its cynical as hell but is also fairly strategic if that's UDPS's goal.

Mel

Anonymous said...

Jason-

It would be interesting to get your views on the following scenarios

So, let’s just assume the elections are delayed until the 5th and, whenever they are announced, the following occurs:

(A)
Kabila wins. The “ABK” team (anybody but Kabila) immediately denounces the vote, this is backed up by non-Congolese observers, and demonstrations and violence ensues.

(B)
Etienne wins. The regime, refusing to recognize the inevitable, also denounces the vote, increases the police presence, seeks to have the elections annulled through the courts, rebels get more active, and perhaps a mutiny ensues by CNDP elements in the army.

(C)
Kamerhe wins. Both UDPS and the Kabila alliances denounces the vote, this is also backed up by non-Congolese observers, and street battles begin among everyone.

(D)
Kabila wins. The vote is declared relatively free and fair, we go back to the status quo.

So, of these 4 scenarios (I could give more but let’s stick with these):

1) Which is the most likely?
2) What should be the policy response to your pick? And by this I mean not what the “authorities” in the Congo should do but the international community.

I’d be really great if you could answer and, ofcourse, feel free to do so diplomatically.

Anonymous said...

ALL OF YOU BLOOD SUCKING IMPERIALISTS NEED TO GET THE HELL OUT OF CONGO. 100 YEARS OF HELL THAT YOU HAVE CAUSE TO THE CONGOLESE PEOPLES IS ENOUGH. THE CONGOLESE PEOPLES ARE TIRED OF YOUR INTERFERENCE AND CHISEKEDI IS NOT GOING TO HELP YOU.

D Djeli said...

Folks, (not Jason....)
Seeing as we have already had Congolese activist deaths in Europe, and I have personally seen fights break out between Congolese, perhaps at this point further speculation is not actually helpful?

I'm with Dizolele's comment that representation of the Congo has been hi-jacked by foreign NGOs and activists...........

Anonymous said...

y'all,

let's pull back from the brink here, ok? i know tensions are rising and, for some, this election is a make or break moment but let's all try to keep in mind this is a blog.

as a blog, it is perfectly fine to discuss what should people do if things do not work out as planned if the wrong person (i'm not going to say who that could be) doesn't "win" in this election.

i realize that is a sensitive and, perhaps, dangerous topic but it needs to be broached nonetheless. i would further add that broaching it is not a desire to dismember the Congo, gain favor with certain candidates, and extend "imperialist" control over the Congo.

i realize, again, there is all this profound hatred and disgust for the West in an element of congolese political discourse but, last time i checked, we all live on this planet together and we have got to figure out how to live on it together. that isn't youthful idealism. that's the necessity of peace demands.


it is not unreasonable to debate and discuss scenarios depending on a victor or really anything else. let's tty to debate folks.

d djeli- i agree, to an extent, that is true but, ofcourse, american's are always in this catch- 22

...dizole himself has called on more engagement from the US.

...but when we engage, there are always calls of being partial, being heavy handed, and serving our self-interest.

damned if we do. damned if we don't.

i recognize this concern and, to an extent, agree with it. but to be clear, that isn't helpful and, believe it or not, has the effect of encouraging no involvement at all. I'd further add that American taxpayers have contributed mightily over the years to the Congo and are having an incredibly divisive internal debate on what we do with our fiscal situation. thus, i think we do have the right to discuss how all that's going and adjust policy if it's not going well.

i'd further add that as an american jew, the idea that more authentic voices in policy debates will lead to better policy isn't true. jewish americans, as it relates to israel, are not of a single mind when it comes to securing it but an element of our community are very organized in ensuring american politicians tow this line.

but is that policy just? will it truly bring peace to our homeland? can one organization (AIPAC) speak for the broad diversity of american jews?

i'll let these questions stand on their own.

folks, we need to chill out and be level-headed and discuss all the possibilities as the big day approaches and more critically what happens after it.

i know we can do this...

jose

D Djeli said...

Yeah Jose good point about authentic voices... diasporas of any variety can be half the problem sometimes and not half the solution... good point about AIPAC too!

I've seen a couple of crazy political fight nights in bars here where usually its Nollywood movies, pool and get amiably pissed. Maybe that just represents the kind of bars I visit when my allergic reactions to policy palaver break down :)

Meanwhile, I hear from friends on the ground that Kabila went down like a lead balloon in the East - flat as a pancake.

I think Dizolele was being critical of the NGO and Badvocacy brigade when he said what he said - that's how it sounded at the time.

I also see what you say about US taxpayers - UK and EU taxpayers are the same - but I've been questioning what exactly the funding deities expect. Still website building so cant post links as yet and am now caught up in the news onslaught at work so no time but I will soon.

There's an "election gathering" in London next week so that should be interesting.....

Anonymous said...

What American taxpayers expect is for money to be used to build a road leads to the damn road being built on time and on budget.

Not to build a mansion on the Congo or a villa in the hills of Goma.

Nearly $2 billion spent on this country and there is nothing to show for it and, ofcourse, all we get from Congolese nationalists is that we are imperialists arming their enemies that rape Congolese women and kill their children.

Well, if that's how folks feel you can fork over that $2 billion and we'll turn off the aid spigot and call it a day.

I'm pretty sure it can put some teachers back in our schools and I am TOTALLY sure an environment where Kinshasa must depend on its people to fund itself will change some behavior.

If folks think this isn't a possibility, spend some time reading up the Republican members of the American Congress's International Relations Committee.

Patience with corrupt and incompetent African regimes has run its course.....

Anonymous said...

Republican Prez candidates are having a debate tonight on "national security" and foriegn policy.

I suggest folks watch to get an idea what's coming should any of these fascists win:

http://www.cnn.com/video/flashLive/live.html?stream=1

And ofcourse, Perry is on his "foreign aid starts at zero/we don't write blank checks to anyone" rube from the get go.

Anonymous said...

So, just to update folks, a few pretty concerning things are going on in the Congo.

First, someone (no one knows who or if it was politically motivated) killed in cold blood an MLC MP. The MLC is the major opposition party sitting in the National Assembly.

http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5j0ienx_5XqP3eMIDwG7eoLXtWxvQ?docId=CNG.c7c8ac23502f44f04296138f342a7426.111

Second, and perhaps more critical, the Carter Center is, again, calling into question some elections procedures- particularly the process of dealing with complaints about the vote before the Supreme Court, which is the final authority on the vote, can certify final results. Apparently, not only is the process "opaque" but according to one of its longest serving judges the Kabila Administration a)has appointed 17 judges to sit on the Court (I believe) with little judicial experience b) informed the judges to deliberate in private- a violation of the Constitution.

http://af.reuters.com/article/topNews/idAFJOE7AM0C420111123?pageNumber=2&virtualBrandChannel=0

Doesn't look good for a free, fair, credible, and peaceful election process given these new concerns but, ofcourse, the unpredictable is the normal in the Congo.

Does anyone else hate watching a potential train crash right before your eyes?

Clay

Anand said...

@Clay - Yes. It is frustrating beyond belief. Steady engagement by each individual interested in the Congo, in their respective fields; that's the most anyone can do. But collectively it can help influence change over time, and act as support to the Congolese people who will ultimately set their country on the right course. Thanks for the updates.

Anonymous said...

If the train crash analysis is correct, it would seem logical to me that Vital Kamerhe (and his reputation as peace maker) would get behind Tshisekedi at the last minute. His UNC could still win a large number of seats in parliament i assume. What is needed is a clear victory for one candidate. And without a united opposition I don't see any candidate winning a clear mandate.

Vincent

Rich said...

Vincent -

A quick one to add that there are growing and serious allegations of fraud especially with polling stations... It seems like there is no way back now but let's wait and see how the situation will be managed.

V Kamerhe joining force with other opponents seems like a fair option and I would rather see that than an outright victory of one candidate. I say this because a unique candidacy for the opposition will help the country to have a government where one party can be checked by the other hence taming down any kind of extremism... However, the other worry may be linked to the fact that if such a coalition is to break, things may get nasty and a possible institutional crisis may ensue reverting us into a situation where politicians will have the POWER in their hands since they will be the ones negotiating (God knows what) and not the population electing them through a government project...

All that said, I think the election is also a test of popularity and any politician with real ambitions would like at some point to measure his political weight in absolute values. This can only be surveyed through the election outputs (provided a big chunk of the results are reliable). In this way, I have a feeling that Kamerhe may be tempted to check his popularity and have that as a political capital he can use to bargain influence in the political market throughout the coming legislature.

Another support to this argument is related to the fact that if, for instance, Bemba can today claim some kind of political notoriety on the Congolese political scene it is because such claim bears both a rubber and hard stamps of legitimacy from the results (42%) he obtained in the 2006 elections. We've seen all the big names to the presidential visiting bemba where he is and making clear that they were ready to go in bed with him… and we know this was only possible BECAUSE he has in hand the 42% as measured by the 2006 elections outcome.

So, Kamerhe too may want that kind of well-referenced proof of popularity since throwing his support behind tshisekedi, before the election, will somehow cancel out any measure he has to make about his true popularity. But, who knows? Sometimes politics work in a mysterious way...

Here is the latest SCOOP

@ Mel – Min 01:15 is for you…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KgfzqkD0Lh4&feature=share

Rich

Anonymous said...

Rich

I assume Vital Kamerhe can get behind Tshisekedi while his UNC still participates in parliamentary elections(is that correct?). In that way Kamerhe can measure the weight of his parties popularity and one Presidential candidate can win a clear majority (off course we don't know exactedly how much Tshisekedi and kamerhe combined would garner).

Kamerhe's role and analysis is what I am most interested in right now.

Vincent

Anand said...

@Rich - Quick question. In 2006, the 42% who came out in favor of Bemba. Were there any particulars to his campaign message, any specifics that he brought to the table in regard to exactly how he would create growth and change? Or was voting for him essentially just a vote against Kabila.

Rich said...

Anand -

Thanks,

There can be many answers to the question and as you have notice in some of the discussions on this blog, people may define the context in many ways. If I can summarise, I would say voting Bemba in 2006 was both to say NO to J Kabila and also a reflexion of the geopolitical divide (East Vs West) within the DRC. Here I can name two cases

1. When you look at the 2006 results you can see that in 2006 J Kabila did very well in the East but very poorly in the West and Bemba did very well in the West and not as good in East. It is natural that for historical and many other reasons, Congolese may identify to, be sympathetic to, and trust people with whom they share the lingo-ethnic heritage than those with whom they share political ideologies.

2. The other aspect of the 2006 election was the fact that the east was more affected by the conflict than the west. In this respect, J Kabila was, on the one hand, mostly prominent for ‘ending’ the war and this overlaps to some extent with the lingo-ethnic factor, hence helping him to score big in east. On the other hand, the west was so desperate for the improvement on the social and economic conditions as most of the funds were affected to the war efforts living parts of the country not affected by the war in serious financial and social troubles hence helping a NO vote for J Kabila in the hope that Bemba could do better; that also overlaps with the lingo-ethnic factor…

To conclude, I think this year is unpredictable due to the fact that the west Vs east divide will struggle to emerge as clearly as it did in 2006 with two strong candidates where one was from east and the other from west. Traditionally, the centre used to be more sympathetic to the east, I remember when we were at university, students from the two Kasais and those from the east (Orientale, great Kivu and Katanga) were very sympathetic and those from the remaining provinces formed the other camp and there use to be conflicts based on the same divide but Kasai use to be associated with the east. Since the events of expelling Kasaiens from Katanga by Kyungu and the ill relationship between L D Kabila and tshisekedi, the centre (two Kasais) has ‘unfriended ‘ the east and it is not clear that it has joined the west since it is always a bit difficult for old foes to become good friends automatically, so there is still some kind of mistrust and that as I said, is the reason why, the west (provinces of Bas-Congo; Bandundu and Equateur) will be the king maker for these elections.

I don’t know if this answers your question but I just tried…

Rich

Rich said...

Sorry, as for Bemba's campaign message,

Bemba or his supporters used the lingo-ethnic divide he was presenting himself as the 'Mwana Mboka@ to say 'the son of the land' but when he was pushed by journalists he once said that he believed J Kabila was Congolese and that he has never condonned any kind of arguments based on the ethnicity or origins of his rivals.

His other message was more on the economic, during the 1+4 regime, he was vice-president in charge of the economy and finances. there were some improvements on the economis situation as the country was just coming out from the war situation, the finances improved and inflation rate dropped significantly, some investors started to take interest etc... So bemba was able to use that to his credit because he was in charge of the economy. In other words, unlike many other candidates, he had a somehow positive legacy on the economic anf fincial front, wich was well received in the west were economic progress and social conditions seemed the priority to present and defend during the campaign...

Rich

Anonymous said...

@All

I jump in the discussion at this stage and hope to stick to the thread of this topic. RadioOkapi site indicates that Kamerhe might meet Tshisekedi in Mbuji-mayi today brokered by Mbusa Nyamwisi. For a presidential candidate in campaign this is the first of the dramatic plays to be unfold soon but one could easily guess the ultimate objective and expected rewards if it works!

Actually the proponents of this election seem to be proud and have convinced every body that the real Congo is like a series adjacent chiefdoms (de facto as a federation of tribes or a confederation of regions) … thus perpetuating the idea that ethnic/regional belonging is the only basis for political legitimacy – Some of them are even proud and vocal about it: Kamerhe said to control much of the East, Tshisekedi in Centre, Bemba or Kengo in Ouest, Mbusa with the Nandes etc. Kabila is sent or restricted to Katanga and Maniema and every analyst agrees on this. Now whatever the presidential results and majority in parliament, the elected president will need to bargain all the way in these shifting alliances and interested groups during the presidential term, devoting his time to find the right balances at regional level and ethnic level in each province instead of charting the way out of the deep ...shit. Instability will be there around the corner all the time and call for cabinet reshuffle every two years maximum. Is this the best way to do the nation building in deep deficit? If 50 years after the independence this is the only logic and rationale of Congo politics, the Republic has not moved an inch. Nobody should be surprised then by the tactics used by each of the competitor at Presidential and MP level. Selling the group survival “imperative” is the strategy used and resused- it is either us or the enemy on post command.. eating everything!. The novelty is to get some backing outside in the capital world or stock exchanges circles. In five years time, we will have the same game – except Tshisekedi and Kengo gone - too old to stay in active politics. Fundamentally, the communities are held hostage and the country seems in FREEZE mode since 1960. May be this is the time to look at other alternatives much closer to the desires of people and communities and to the actual needs/choices expressed underlying in current and past election. May be the current tabooed federalism or confederalism are the route to go. A study in 2009 by a Fellow (from Kenya) at Brookings Institution on syndrom of countries of big size, complicated diversity and huge resources (Sudan, Algeria, DR Congo, Cameroun, Angola) had suggested to split them to more manageable size countries. South-Sudan is already a reality! In this regard, it is appalling to hear Kamerhe's slogan to turn DR Congo into Brazil in five years, really laughable. There is no single element to concur to that prediction in the present state of preparation for that role in DRC! Pure rhetoric and fantasy one would not expect from someone who led a Parliament. Probably that is why some analysts are betting on Kamerhe for 2016 giving him some time to acquire maturity and wisdom. Reality check!

Far from the ideological controversy above, three practical questions need to be answered:

Anonymous said...

1. Is the current treatment – I mean the electoral process as it organized, sequenced and regulated– suggested and supported by the international community the right remedy to the Congo problems? Which ones?. If the diagnostic was on the target then we should not worry and leave the course of the history to taking place. If there are worries and they seem legitimate today, then the diagnostic (Sun City and Constitution 2006) stated and institutionalized as such was not meant to cure the disease. May be just to pretend and see how to get back the country on foot somehow to build the framework for “new investors” interested to tap in the country vast resources!

2. Are we all comfortable and supporting the 5 years term for a President when everybody knows that both hard and soft infrastructure is dead, obsolete – non existent. Without an equivalent or similar to Marshall Plan, how long can we realistically except to have some tangible results to show to the people? A 10 or 15 years one single term mandate might be more appropriate considering the level of decay and deliquescence. For a country still being questioned as failed state, can someone reasons as if it is business as usual with a normal country? Organizing costly and complex elections and pretend days before they are not well organized? As if the systems are in place and people’s mind in peace? As if basic needs are covered?

3. Is it fair or far reaching to suggest a full of common sense proposal, logical to advise for CAPITAL GAIN TAXATION on mining or petrol or timber concessions resale transaction on stock exchange. Are the initial holders of concessions or buyers ready for that? Including those in early 80's when Gecamines, Miba, Okimo were dismembered – at Kengo period of power as Premier Minister. We did not see any clear program/terms of reference on how the aspirant presidents intend to deal with or to renegotiate better terms of these mining concession contracts; on the contrary some are having secret contacts with the "presumed predators" assuring them if elected or relected that their interests are safeguarded. Reality check!

Three months ago, some Congolese tried to convince me that the confrontation around the elections need to happen in order to solve once for all this vicious circle and historical trap. I was far to imagine the scenario was being built in total self-fulfillment prophecy. Yet my naïve feeing is that the only remote chance to avert this curse will be to vote for fresh perspective and for the younger generation, full of ambition for their country. Congo does not need necessary a well decorated or articulate or genius (sexy is the new wording) but at least someone who has some clarity and pragmatic approach to the “country’s refondation”, knows the pace to take for that, measures realistically the geopolitical situation of Congo today in the Central Africa and has more flexibility among all of the candidates and less liabilities from the past. If Congolese chose the chaos expected to precede the rebirth, it will be their choice but my bet is that the cost will be much higher than they can imagine. I will conclude then that the issues above touched are serious and that the biggest challenge is not the infrastructure but the mindset, the attitude of the Congolese vis a vis his own History and destiny. I would assume then there won’t be much a scapegoat to blame this time, nor a humanitarian father providing endlessly the resources for "free" to feed Congolese and prevent Congo to sliding toward as a failed state probably buried by this election if poorly handled.

Rogers

Rich said...

Rogers -

Standing ovation where I am.

Many thanks

Richard

Anonymous said...

exceptional, rogers. (and rich and vincent)

i actually did call, as did bryce i believe, for the congolese to work out their own history and destiny through this election. honestly, i think that is the best thing because you are correct: congolese democracy- or the state- cannot emerge if we keep engaging in the ethnic/tribal dance that sells for legitmacy in the Congo.

it just can't happen.

your broader point about the current "set up" is incredibly provocative and bold. i'd love to get my hands on that brooking instiution report. i have heard it referenced before but i can't find it online and have searched twice for it over the last year.

perhaps this election, if it doesn't go well, will lead to the congolese elite and donors to reacess the current set up. if so, i do STONGLY believe that the question of federalism- so volalite a discussion among the congolese- needs to be openly and rigorously discussed. the feeding frenzy for kinshasa is too overhwhelming and is impeding development which, if it occurred, would give the ambitious something else to try if their political career came to an end. right now, we don't have it and the symptoms are all around the congolese.

it would also be necessary to think long and hard about resource contracts as well. given the growing anger at the financial world spreading all over the world its a good time to discuss it. but is taxes or a cap gains tax the only thing we could try? what about requiring, say, 5% of resource revenues to be solely devoted to purchasing a "Rebuilding Bond", issued by the state and in its currency?

something to try but i think it all needs to be on the table. but again, its just my thinking that the question of secession or federation needs to be on the table as well. i ofcourse believe a strong swiss-like federation makes the most sense and is the most efficient given the drc's geographical situation but, ultimately, it should be a decision put before the congolese either way.

and this would require a revisitation of the current set up.

finally, in terms of bemba we did get a statement today but its not for one candidate but a urgent call to unite around one person:

http://af.reuters.com/article/topNews/idAFJOE7AN08E20111124

thus, it seems like we are headed towards two basic scenarios:

a) perhaps a unity on the prez ticket comes, we get rid of kabila, perhaps some violence, but a truly legitimate prez and a divided national assembly.

b) unity doesn't come, the election is close but kabila wins, a truly violent reaction becomes the order of the day, and the west and au step in and the 'revisitation' of the set up ensues with perhaps a transitional period.

i know this all sounds bad but, at the same time, it would be led entirely by the congolese which is very good. and its my thinking that “b” is going to be the scenario we will see.

let's just all pray whatever happens furthers congolese democracy.

the drc is TRULY to big too fail.

jose

Anand said...

@Rich - That helps a lot. The lingo-ethnic angle is something I keep coming across in research as a deciding factor (even above seeming self interest sometimes). Learning more about Bemba tying himself to economic upswings helps too. I am trying to learn more about Congolese players. So much about Bemba focuses on the war crimes issue, so I am just trying to learn a little more about his politics. Your analysis always seems even handed and well informed to me; many thanks.

@Rogers - Interesting analysis and many valid points. The million dollar question seems to be, who? Who would we want to see for an extended term? Who fits the qualities you have described in your last paragraph? You are very right that a lot of the analysis seems to assume a certain level of normalcy and credibility in everything regarding the elections. I also agree that postive action must come from the younger generation. Does anyone have any info about youth movements not linked to the bigger political players and parties?

Anonymous said...

Hmm...

What about outsourcing state functions to a corporation and allowing the Congolese to just run the democracy?

I'm serious folks. So the corporation that runs the state does all the things a state needs to do: tax and raise money, hire and train employees to run departments, the army, the borders, the healthcare and educational systems, courts and jails, print money, pay its debts, and build infrastructure. Perhaps its done for 20 years and during that time completely trains a whole new generation of civil servants to run it after the contract expires.

The Congolese government would only then pass laws, sign resource contracts and treaties, and that's it. If the laws require regulations or had some material impact on the corporation running the state then the corporation would have to implement them as part of the contract.

The only reason I am suggesting this is that Roger's ideas are great but I think its important to separate OUT the "dysfunctional state" (i don't believe that the DRC is a failed state, just dysfunctional)
problem and the "democracy problem" and try to solve them separately vs together which is the basic approach now. An approach that has clearly failed.

Thoughts?

marie

Perhaps the contract is with a major consulting firm- like McKinsey or something.

Anonymous said...

To be clear, I am just of the belief that it isn't fair to expect the Congolese to build a state and a democracy all at once. And just so that this is super clear, I am Congolese American with nearly all of my extended family in the Congo. I am also a Ph.D student at Emory in development.

I realize the idea of development and democracy is considered to go hand in hand but I am strongly resisting that idea given their is very little proof that is possible in the research. And where the research points to this being possible the country's that are cited as "proof" took over 50-60 years to develop.

Congolese compatriots: Do we want to wait 50 years to strengthen our state and democracy or should we try more efficient, corporate approaches?

If you are wedded to the idea of pan-africanism and leftist ideologies formed outside of our cultural traditions than I am sure this will be a bit too much for you to swallow.

But, if you are young and recognize the left, right, and pan africanism are bankrupt ideologies than I hope this gives you something to chew on.

Also, thanks Mel for the ladies shout-out. I too am getting a little weirded out by this blog's all male perspectives. Its the men that has put my homeland in this horrid position to begin with.

marie

Anonymous said...

jose

very fascinating, marie. i’d be down for something like that AS LONG AS the government corporation that runs it all has a mix of both congolese and international managers. the former would ensure legitimacy whereas the latter would put a check on predation.

in terms of Rich’s points about Vital, i think it might be something like this: (big guess here)

- vital and kengo agree to back ET
- but their parties continue campaign for national assembly and provincial assembly seats
- based on how they do, and assuming ET wins, things are divided accordingly.
- so, as an example:
* UNC wins 20% of seats, UDPS wins 30%, MLC wins 15%, and the balance is PPRD
an others.
* whoever gets the most gets the right to choose a prime minister- so UNC and this would
likely mean Vital as PM. Given he is a brilliant political tactician and knows gov’t this
would likely please everybody.
* then, the like 60-70 ministers with portfolios would be further divided based on these
numbers.
* then, whatever Executive Office that exists (does the Prez in the Congo have his own
staff of advisers and such? not sure) perhaps UDPS takes that all.
- this would ofcourse sideline other parties- and there are hundreds- but if such a joint ticket occurs it would be a BOMBSHELL and set off a flood of parties seeking access to the deal. what happens with them? who knows but the smart money is ignoring them until the dust settles.
- a Plan B is needed given Kabila could ofcourse win- by hook or crook. In that case, there would still need to be a meeting of the minds given we must remember Kabila is running not as PPRD but as an independent- very smart of him. So, taking Rich’s ideas we could end up with a sharply reduced PPRD in the Assembly and provinces (or not ofcourse) and UDPS, UNC, and a weaker MLC. In that case, we have a scenario similar to America where one party controls the Presidency and where another controls the lower Congress. Indeed, if the opposition is smart they should take a playbook from Republicans and block, frustrate, and investigate the hell out of Kabila. Divided government in the Congo would be THE BEST THING for the Congo on A LOT of levels. If Kabila had to deal with a rebellious Assembly, which he does not have to do now, it would strengthen Congo’s institutions and encourage more balance between the executive and legislative branch which does not exist today.

In this sense I reject, to a degree, the need for a “joint opposition”. I’d rather Vital’s call for a “circling of the opposition”, wherebye they encircle Kabila and clip his power. Vital is super smart and very strategic and this is better for the nation long term. Vital also has the admiration of Americans if you read the Wikileak cables.

jose

Anonymous said...

oh and just to put a finer point on this scenario, ET would HAVE to agree on allowing the other parties to continue to campaign.

He may not and, if I were him, that would make perfect sense because the key leverage the other parties have is continuing their campaigns. that is their leverage in any deal with him.

now, if ET is smart and really wants to be Prez than he should take the deal and INSIST that who gets what is dependent upon how they do on e-day. he should not agree to continued campaigning unless they agree on "votes for power".

this could be a real sticking point but that is the best deal for him, the opposition, and clearly this democracy.

jose

Anonymous said...

I found this nugget from Amy’s Enrst’s blog rather fascinating. She works with a Congolese guy named “Hangie” who, in previous blog posts, strongly supported Kabila.

His reasoning? He has brought peace. Fine reason considering things.

But, now that campaigning has begun in earnest in the Congo, he seems to be wavering.

This is but one person. But I do wonder how many others are tiring of the cynicism behind much of what is called “campaigning” in the Congo.

Here’s the blurb:

(a helicopter passes over and, in jest, amy pretends its Kabila’s)

Amy: Hello, Kabila! I say and wave.
Narration: Kabila only stays for a few hours. A massive crowd fills the streets that he’ll pass through. Most people are chanting happily; a few throw stones and tear Kabila t-shirts into shreds but everything goes surprisingly smoothly. Even Hangie changes his mind about voting for Kabila
Hangie: His way of convincing us to vote for him is by saying ‘if you don’t vote right there will be war,’ Hangie explains the next day. How can I vote for a president who threatens his people to gain the vote?

Rich said...

It looks almost over for the opposition to agree on a UNIQUE candidate. Here is a small sentence by V Kamerhe when asked about a possible a UNIQUE candidacy of the opposition:

Ref # « Ma base ne le comprendrait pas », to say, "my electoral base would not understand".

There is tension in Kinshasa, a dispute over who is going to use stade des Martyres for the last rally on Saturday seems to be at the center. Also, there are news saying that 4 000 Ugandan riot police are being deployed with their anti-riot gear in DRC, it is not clear whose decision this is or where about they are being deployed...

From what I've heard tshisekedi has changed several times the day he wanted to use the satdium for his last rally in the capital and this time it looks like he went for a date the stadium was booked by Kabila's side. His supporters see in that an obstruction...

Rumours from Kinshasa are to be taken with a pich of salt but the news on Kamerhe is from a reliable source RTBF...

Rich

Rich said...

All political rallies planned in Kinshasa for today Saturday 26/11/2011 last day of the campaign have been cancelled by the city's authorities. There have been clashes between supporters of different presidential candidates, there are reports of 1 dead (head injury no fire arm) confirmed so far.

3 rallies were planned today (VK; ET and JK) there were all going to happen in a very close neighborhood... riot police were deployed around stade des martyrs to prevent any entries. J Kabila's empty motorcade on route to pick him up from Ndjili airport were he was scheduled to arrive from his campaign in Bas-Congo was stoned at places were ET supporters were gathered to await their candidate also scheduled to arrive through Ndjili airport...

LAST MINUTE NEWS, DESPITE THE BAN ON ANY POLITICAL RALLY, TSHISEKEDI HAS CONFIRMED THAT HIS RALLY MUST GO AHEAD REGARDLESS... IS THIS THE LAST STRAW?

Here some recent reports on two candidates from international media.

J Kabila

http://www.france24.com/en/20111125dr-congo-joseph-kabila-africa-african-politics-african-independence-elections

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=ukP0APwar_o

E Tshisekedi

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1f-RcpXlir0&feature=player_embedded

Rich

Anonymous said...

Rich-

ET has called for violence before. Well, not explicitly but he has made implict calls for it.

I guess my question is if he loses do you think that he will absolutely call for revolt and, most importantly, will people respond?

It be great to get your perspective.

From my understanding the ICC is on the ground and is warning candidates and the regime not to play with fire. This is very different then there approach in Kenya in 2007 so it would be good to get your on the ground perspective on all this...

And please stay safe, Rich!!

Mel

Rich said...

Mel -

ET has not called explicitly for violence although it is easy to read between the lines what he means when he says the people must take their responsibility...

If he loses I am sure he may well ask the 'population' to put him in power (as he did with mobutu back in October 1991 when he called the population to come and walk with him to his premier ministerial offices in Gombe) around 15 000 of his supporters turned up to show support but mobutu's presidential guards and the garde civile had clear instructions to break that marche swiftly and at any cost. Tshisekedi himself was roughed up and tear gas were fired etc... The tentative failed...

That said, this time is a bit different because the deadline is not necessarily the 28 of November 2011 there will be another tense period between the 28 of November and the publication of provisional results on December 6th; validation of definitive results (Supreme Court)on December 17th, presidential inauguration on December 20th as you can see this is a period full of key dates and anything can happen during that time...

Scenarios.

1. J Kabila wins tshisekedi et al protest,

If it was about one specific day (say 28 November alone) when everything would be decided, I would say, 48 hours would enough for J Kabila and his security aparatus to quash any protest. Not sure how many would die but I can bet there will be plenty of arrests and an extreme campaign of terror by security services (some will be send by the autorities and some will use the occasion to do what they do best, harass the population).

2. ET wins and J kabila protests

I cannot see other issue than the IC to intervene to oust J Kabila and then we will have to start the whole thing from scratch (J Kabila now has a deep rooted network and it will take serious time and confrontations to uproot it).

I can see the point about the ICC but using my criminology background I would say the drift to criminal behaviour is something very unpredictable and in a political environment, the technique of neutralisation used by criminals to justify their wrong doings works perfectly. So, I doubt this will have a big impact especially when a person is convinced that he will prevail through the confrontation, they will push the violence all the way regardless of the consequences it is only after, when they are, for instance, neutralised then they start to think about what they have done... These things can sometimes be driven by passion or greed so it is very difficult to convince someone who is autoritarian to reason.

At the last minute, Tshisekedi wanted to force his way to the place he wanted to have his rally regardless of the BAN, he ordered his supporters to go there, but an armoured police vehicle was driven towards his car and parked across the road stopping his car to go any further. This was at the airport and he was prevented from leaving...

It is also to be noted that after the early troubles the numbers of people/ demonstrators waiting for their leaders in the streets went down significantly since the confrontations between different groups and sometimes the police led these numbers to drop and there are only a couple of hundreds people left in the streets with any intent to demonstrate etc...

Thanks for the advice Mel, actually, I am not physically on the ground but I have a network of people feeding information almost live. My thoughts are with them and I am sure they stay well safe.

Rich

Rich said...
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Rich said...

Mel -

I have been on both sides of political demonstrations in DRC.

A brief answer will be, the longer it goes, the less intense it gets.

I may be wrong but I don't see Congolese protesting for weeks like we've seen with the Arab spring...

For the security service -

They are feared and one gun shot in the air is usually enough for some people to go home, they can still demonstrate on their way home but they will not stay to play cat and mouse with the police or the security forces.

Targeted arrests and kidnapping of opposition militants/ring leaders also deter others from continuing...

Demonstrators -

Most Congolese need to go out on a daily basis to get something to feed and raise the family. Most people do not have storage in their houses so they cannot afford to see the cities like Kinshasa paralysed for more than 3 days. Although they nmay want to demonstrate and paralyse the country, they can afford it because they would soon want normalcy to resume otherwise they will die not from bullets or tear gas, but from starvation...

Rich

Anonymous said...

hmm...

On the potential for sustained revolt, how can you be sure of that? Were not most Egyptians similarly unemployed/destitute? I mean, they didn't seem like that well off to me and a good deal of the Arab Spring is over lack of jobs/rising prices, etc?

I think it all depends on how its coordinated or who coordinates it. If a sustained revolt occurs, I actually do see the potential for the Congolese throwing off fear and staying in the line of the bullet.

What else do they have to lose?

It is also possible that they will organize folks in the rural areas to "join" them by sending supplies to markets. It is also possible that market people will "help" demonstrators by giving food for free from rural areas. And having traveled the areas from Kinshasa to Kikwit/Banandu, damn near everyone has a cell phone so they could communicate.

Ofcourse, the regime could cut off cell networks but that would harm them as well.

So, I actually think the level of destitution and desperation, coupled with ties to rural areas, could actually sustain a pretty strong revolt if it occurred. This is particularly true among THE YOUNG who are likely the strongest Anti-Kabila force, stand the most to lose, and like their peers elsewhere are more willing to confront power and sacrifice themselves.

This idea that you need a middle class to sustain a revolt isn't accurate historically and particularly in Africa when they have occurred.

I guess we will see soon.

Frank

Anonymous said...

If Kabila wins and a) the vote is fraudulent b) protests occur and his smacks down hard....i don't see a scenario where Kabila stays in power.

the international community will not tolerate it given all the approaching elections on the continent.

indeed, a harsh crackdown on opposition protests is exactly the trap ET is likely banking on so if Kabila wants to survive it will probably make sense to offer something to ET/UDPS. i don't know what that something is but a crackdown would definitely backfire given what's ahead on the continent and this American president.

and I agree with Frank. the idea that destitution doesn't mean a sustained revolt is borne by the historical fact or even congolese history.

oy vey.

jose

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Rich. And glad your safe!

I guess for me, my big concern here is that this has been all about personalities. Not issues, or platforms.

Everyone has promised many things. But, they haven't accounted for what they have NOT done nor how they will actually get what they've promised done either.

I guess we are a ways away from the "accountability" factor needed in any democracy.

Let's hope future elections has that factor and is less about the big boys and what and how they plan to govern and defending their records before the people.

Not to mention more women in the debate.

Mel

Rich said...
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Rich said...

Thanks Mel -

I agree with you. You've made a very valid point about women. This has been my biggest problem with the Congolese society. We often talk about rapes in the conflict affected areas of the DRC but people forget that this phenomenon is widespread in the whole DRC. A study by Amber Peterman showed that and this was already shown in the 2007 D R Congo DHS.

The Congolese man must change the way he treats the most vulnerable in his society and this is not a problem of being in power or not it is about admitting that change must start from the lowest level of society (the family, the street, the quartier etc...) and make its way up... there is no way one can call himself a democrat if he is unable to respect his wife/female counterpart or listen to his children...

Here is a clip from the D R Congo Prime minister trying to defend his legacy. We Congolese must talk and think about real issues and not spreading myths and waste time talking about individuals... I hold my hand up for committing some of the same mistakes but I think sometimes you have to speak from the same register as your interlocutor in order to have any kind of conversation...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=-wjaIAHHrJs#!

Rich

Anand said...

Regarding sustained revolt - Although there are similarities, I think the factors of infrastructure, access to food and daily requirements, and a more unified populace, are quite different between the DRC and Egypt. I am not suggesting that sustained revolt is impossible in the DRC, but it would be quite a bit more arduous for the average protestor than in Egypt.

Regarding personalities vs. platforms - I couldn't agree with you more Mel. Almost everything I read is about political posturing and personality driven rhetoric. I would love to hear some specifics as to plans and implementation. And I totally agree that there needs to be more women's voices at the forefront. We've started to see more prominent women in Liberia like Leymah Gbowee; hopefully Congo can follow similar suit. Along the lines of this topic, I read blurb where a high up PPRD rep was saying that NGO's are the ones who are making rape a big problem in Congo by exaggerating the issue. I wonder if someone like Justine Masika of Synergy for Women (in Goma) would agree...

Anonymous said...

overwhelmingly agree with rich, mel, and anand on the women issue. we need them to step up and soon.

this video was really interesting, rich. muzito is jack smart and clearly adroit as a pol. i'd hate to have his job but he seems fairly dedicated to it though i know there are some issues with corruption with him and his family. i once tried to meet him at a african finance minister event last year in dc. didn't happen unfortunately.

i'm intrigued with statements of his of late about kabila fighting "neo-colonialism". i get this profound sense among congolese friends here, in france, and even family members of my wife in the congo that this- and the understandable desire for stability- is a MAJOR reason people support Kabila. that he's fighting "whitey" as it were.

i guess, from my limited perspective as an american, that i don't quite understand how kabila and fighting neo-colonialism is linked in any way. i mean, he's been more or less accepting of free market principles. is it his penchant for constantly renogiating contracts with mining companies that is behind this? or is it just congolese distrust for the West generally given history? i just can't quite square support for Kabila on these ground vs support for ET that stems from the believe ET is more the "people's choice" whereas Kabila is the "west's choice" one finds in congolese society.

its like there is almost two strains in congolese political discourse:

strain 1- the west picks our leaders so we need someone to stick it to the west and reject their choices out of hand (translates into support for ET)

strain 2- we need to deal with the West but do so cautiously and balance them out with other powers. (translates into support for JK)

so, if anyone can help me with this question:

how is kabila a symbol for some congolese of fighting neo-colonialism? and, if he is, is this mostly among the elites? the grassroots? both?

thanks

jose

Anand said...
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Anand said...

I share your perspective/question on Kabila and neo-colonialism, Jose. When modern Congolese refer to neo-colonialism, is this reference only to the West or also to Rwanda and other neighboring countries?

Anonymous said...

Thank you for that video, Rich!

Yes, I have this confusion as well. I remember when Gizenga, a true old political lion, endorsed Kabila and said things similar to Muzito.

I totally understand how the Congolese have a real and palpable sense of trying to fight neo-colonialism- its not even really "Congolese" either because friends in Zimbabawe, Zambia, and even EVER peaceful/stable Tanzania have this as well.

But it is, for me I guess, very odd to somehow connect fighting neo-colonialism and Kabila. And Anand's point resonates with me as well. Do they mean ONLY the West? Rwanda as well (as a proxy for the West)?

I'm just not understanding so if anyone could help/clarify all this I'd appreciate it as well.

From my also limited perspective, I really don't see JK as a symbol of fighting neo-colonialism. I see that in ET, but not JK. Maintaining the nation's territorial integrity is a strain of "sticking it to the West" but the tradition is ALOT deeper than that in my view.

Lumumba is the gold standard for EVERYONE in the world in terms of resisting this but his philosophy was fundamentally about freedom, justice, and the rule of law and I don't see Kabila in the light AT ALL.

But perhaps my view isn't an enlightened one and perhaps the Congolese context this differently in accessing JK and ET.

Mel

Rich said...

Thanks Jose, Mel and Anand for an interesting exchange as always…

My perspective on the ‘neo-colonialism and JK or Et’ is that, when Muzito says J Kabila, quote, “sort des cuisses de Jupiter…” I think he simply means J Kabila truly comes from the descent of Congolese greats such as Kimbangu, Lumumba, L D Kabila etc… This is said as a way of countering the argument that he may not be a Congolese or that he is simply there to serve foreign interests etc… it is almost like saying of an American citizen that he is a 'Kennedy' etc… since these are families or names that have established their patriotism generation after generation, although in the case of the DRC we are just going through the second generation after that of Lumumba and it is not yet very clear who from the current generation of Congolese leaders are actually going to be perceived or remembered as Congolese greats.

Now, the question about anti or pro ‘West’ is a simple one and you get the same feeling in every society. I say this because identity is best defined in a binary divide context. In other words, you need to contrast one identity against another if you want to highlight the difference or merits of one (identity) against another. So, you can find this sense of identifying oneself or a one's society by promoting the 'negative side' fear of another identity in almost every society.

Often times people try to blame the other (the West, colonisation, Rwanda, other ethnic groups) to promote the idea of their own identity. Now, the level to which one is truly for or against the ‘other’ may vary according to the leader, the context, the discourse or even the practice etc…

To sum up, as I have already say on this blog, some of the sentiments/discourses about ‘others’ in the Congolese context is often ill informed (by unscrupulous political leders) and due to cultural tendencies and the total absence of political correctness in what people may or may not say in public, it is easy to pick up some kind of anti west, Rwanda, Belgian, etc… discourses or even actions in the Congolese society but I am sure this is not any different from the kind of feelings or discourses you get about migration, Russia/USSR, China, Israel, Iran etc… in your own society. I know some discourses can be more justifiable than others but you will always get extreme cases of exaggerating the fear of the ‘other’.

JK accommodates the interests of 'the others' and I am sure he listens to others more than, for instance, his father did. That can be seen by some as a rejection of Congolese interests but I think it is difficult/impossible to maintain a fair balance all the time.

ET I think he has been disappointed with the attitude of 'the others' in accommodating his political ambition or the other way round, ('the others' have been disappointed with or wary of his (ET) willingness to accommodate their interests). ET can use that situation to further blame 'the others' and sell himself to the nation as a true nationalist. He can also use it to further seek the other to listen to him since he can say JK is not accommodating your or Congolese interests better than I can do…

Here by interests I don’t necessarily mean mining contracts, sell the Congo River or using the Congo for strategic plans etc… I also mean the ‘others’ desire to see a democratic society take shape in Congo, good governance, the improvement of human rights, development etc…

Rich

Rich said...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_9laGdqgaNs&feature=player_embedded

Rich

Anand said...

Thanks for the perspective Rich. All of the divisiveness, hugely exacerbated by politicians, is a little mind numbing. I am very interested to see what happens on the 28th and throughout December. I really just don't know what to expect. Everything is theory and rumor and educated guessing. My tension on the matter is palpable; I can't imagine what the vibe is like in the DRC right now.

Anonymous said...

@ Rich,

What responsible gov uses army or presidential praetorian guards to shoot at his own people.

Rich this your ideal banana republic, full of corruption, clientelism, and Kabila guards shooting at his own people.

See picture below.


http://direct.cd/2011/11/27/exclusif-rdc-des-photos-des-gardes-republicaines-tirant-sur-des-civiles-a-kinshasa/

Sad indeed.

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