On November 22, 2011, Professor Georges Nzongola-Ntalaja posted an article on the Guardian of London website examining what the Congo 2011 general elections meant to Congolese. He describes the Congo’s “violent election countdown” as a reflection of the rejection of Kabila’s regime by the population (http://www.guardian.co.uk/global-development/poverty-matters/2011/nov/22/congo-violent-election-countdown ).
I admit that Professor Nzongola-Ntalaja presents an interesting analysis of the current electoral situation in the Congo. However, his article leaves me with the feeling that he is not an impartial analyst. In his article, President Kabila is portrayed as the devil that is causing all the troubles Congo is facing and Mr. Tshisekedi is the ultimate “democratic” savior who will rescue the country from its miseries.
Obviously, Kabila’s rule over the Congo has been tainted with serious violations of human rights and it is clear that his entourage and his government have done almost nothing to improve the economic and social situation of the poor. Civil servants, for example, are as poor as they were in 2006 when Kabila was elected for the first term. The majority of the population still have to live with less than 2 dollars a day.
What can we say about Tshisekedi? Is he really the “Moses” that would deliver the people of Congo out of the “Egypt” of poverty and establish the rule of Law? He has some good points with him. As a political opponent, he has been fighting with determination all the dictatorial regimes that Congo has known through the years. His speech about the need of democracy has almost not changed in more than 30 years. Nevertheless, is that enough to portray Tshisekedi as the solution to Congo’s problems? Professor Nzongola-Ntalaja presents him as a leader with “unusual physical endurance” who “travels around the country to campaign for economic reconstruction, the establishment of the rule of law and the moralisation of politics through responsible leadership and the fight against corruption.” And, the Professor adds that “this message has been warmly received because it reflects the deepest aspirations of the majority of Congolese.”
It is clear that the message Tshisekedi carries reflects the aspirations of many Congolese. But what about the messenger? Professor Nzongola-Ntalaja tries in his article to present him as the popular leader that the majority of Congolese would like to have as head of state but who is rejected by the international community. This makes me have doubts about Professor Nzongola-Ntalaja’s impartiality in analyzing the situation in the Congo. Is Kabila unpopular? Should we not include in our analysis the role and position of leaders like Vital Kamerhe or Kengo wa Ndondo? Is it right to present UDPS, Thisekedi’s political party, as the only appropriate alternative to Kabila’s party, PPRD? Is Tshisekedi a “saint”? Didn’t he also make mistakes during his political career? Is he really a democratic leader? Is UDPS a democratic party? How many democratic votes has already been organized within UDPS to elect its leaders? These are some of the questions that Professor Nzongola-Ntalaja chose not to address in his article. And, I believe, there is no way to come up with a partial and neutral reading of current electoral situations in the Congo without tackling these questions.