a). Historical Context of Understanding the DRC Election Outcomes
Divergent to reports that SADC has been dilly-dallying with indecisiveness on the outcome of the recently concluded elections in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), or as some critics claimed, has supposedly betrayed genuine democracy for political friendship with President Joseph Kabila, the regional body led by its venerable Chairperson, President Dr. Hage G. Geingob, has as per the accepted international norms taken a farsighted decisive position in the best interest of lasting peace, stability and democracy for the people of the DRC.
Since independence from Belgium on June 30, 1960, the people of the DRC never had the opportunity for peaceful and democratic elections, precisely, because of the constant detrimental unbridled meddling into their affairs by Western countries led by Belgium, France and the United States, motivated by their national interests to control the DRC’s natural resources.
In July 1961, such Western intrusiveness in the form of a conspiracy, triggered the cruel assassination of the first democratically elected revolutionary Prime Minister of the DRC, Patrice Emery Lumumba.
The assassination was a direct result of Lumumba’s calls for genuine African social and economic transformation which were construed as communistic and anti-Western interest.
Thus, even today, as we witnessed Belgium, France, Italy and the Catholic Church strongly decrying the outcome of the 2018 DRC election results, we should remember the prophetic forewarnings of Lumumba: “The colonialists care nothing for Africa for their own sake.
They are attracted by African riches and their actions are guided by the desire to preserve their interest in Africa against the wishes of the African people.
For the colonialists all means are good if they help them to possess these riches.”
These former colonial countries, which are now the leading posse of good governance values are the fons et origo (source and origin) of the current malaise of underdevelopment, war and suffering in the DRC.
Essentially, these Western nations installed the vain-gloried Mobutu Sese Seko Kuku Ngbendu Wa Za Banga Seseko as their preferred “man”, over the nationalistic Lumumba, as the DRC President, after he guaranteed them access to the country’s natural resources in perpetuity.
As a quid pro quo for State power, he granted multinational Western companies from these countries, a carte blanche with the DRC’s cobalt, coltan, copper, diamond, tantalum, tin, gold, wood, and other resources.
For Mobutu and any subsequent DRC leaders (a pre-condition which President Joseph Kabila and his father refused to comply with and hence their unpopularity with the West) they had to ensure that the “spice must flow” to the West without interruption, same as in the fictional Arrakis Outpost in the old Science Fiction movie, Dune.
This collaboration can be christened as the unwritten Mobutuist-Western Accord on DRC natural resources.
For 59 years, Western multinational companies without regard for the basic socio-economic needs of the DRC citizens benefiting in an unrestraint greed frenzy, from dizzyingly ultra-high profits derived from the natural resources of the DRC.
They only left crumb-like under-declared taxes to subsequent DRC governments, which were hardly sufficient for Government to roll out the required socio-economic and infrastructure development programs over the vast territory.
Meanwhile, as customary the global media dialogue only trumpets the kleptocracy of Mobutu, while remaining silent on the surreal kleptocracy of his Western country partners.
As per the New York Times’ obituary on Mobutu, he left an estimated wealth of US$ 8 billion, diverted over the years from his people to his pockets.
Deductively, this means that comparatively over the same period, the wealth diverted by colonial Belgium and Western companies from the people of the DRC into their pockets should be in the range of trillions times trillions of US$.
This historical account explains, why today, 59 years after the DRC’s independence, some Western countries, abrogate to themselves the right of interference if they surmised that the DRC electoral outcome, or incoming new President, may not uphold their interest in the antique Mobutuist-Western Accord.
To them, it is never about the social and political governance contract of a DRC incoming government with its citizens.
Furthermore, Western global media hegemony, has succeeded to spin the story line that capitalists Western interests are the source of all truth to which all nations should subscribe.
This Western interest truth treatise found in the hegemonic globalization of the media has domesticated most media practitioners in many developing countries as per the “House Negro” concept.
As a result, not shockingly many local Namibian and regional SADC news media journalists, lacking objective analytical discretion, have without analytically decoding the utterances by France and the European Union, in a parroting style broadcasted such utterances, on the outcome of the DRC elections, as the authoritative gospel verity.
In contrast, they have been pejoratively criticizing the genuine efforts of SADC, which sought African solutions to African problems for Africa’s sake, as feeble attempts of some “corrupt Old Boys Club” African leaders.
b). SADC Chair’s Role, pre-2019 DRC Elections
When DRC’s President Kabila announced that he will not be standing as a presidential candidate as per the two term limit imposed by the Constitution, and particularly when he chose Emmanuel Ramazani Shadaray as the candidate of the ruling Party, it became definite that he was not standing.
He also announced that he did not want any outside interference or money in what is strictly a domestic affair of the DRC elections. Since the DRC is a SADC member State, SADC accepted this legitimate position of the DRC government, and so did the African Union (AU) to which the DRC is also a member State.
While many countries including those in the SADC had doubts on whether or not elections would take place in the DRC, this eventually took place on December 30, 2018, peacefully, a first in 59 years.
Without doubt the facilitative role played by SADC through the intervention by the Chairperson who met with both the opposition and ruling parties’ Presidential candidates, contributed to the required confidence and trust in SADC as a candid stakeholder in peaceful and fair elections in the DRC. Specifically, the SADC Chair met with Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary of the ruling People’s Party for Reconstruction and Democracy (PPRD) on November 15, 2018, and with Jean-Pierre Bemba and Moise Katumbi, leaders of the opposition Movement for the Liberation of the Congo and Ensemble Party, who rallied behind Martin Fayulu as the Presidential candidate on December 13, 2018, in Windhoek.
In the closed door meetings, President Geingob, articulated an anecdote of how when President Dr. Sam Nujoma went to consult Cuban President El Comandante Fidel Ruz Castro on Namibia’s shifting of gears from an armed military struggle to participation in the UN Resolution 435 sponsored elections.
After Cde Castro patiently listened to him for over an hour, he responded, “It is your country”, we will support you. Furthermore Cde Castro asked the question, “Are you going to win the elections”?
And President Nujoma answered “yes, through hard work”.
The anecdote was to demonstrate to the DRC Presidential candidates the important principle that it was the duty of the People of the DRC to peacefully decide their own political future as sovereigns, and that SADC was only there to support them.
Hence, neither SADC nor the AU, or outside powers have the right to overlook the sovereignty of the DRC, meaning its internal processes, systems and institutions of governance, to decide on the country’s political leadership.
Unless of course that sovereign country ask for specific help and SADC in line with its principles will provide assistance.
c). Aftermath of the DRC Elections
Eventually the preliminary DRC election results were announced on January 10, 2019, according to which Felix Tshisekedi, the leader of the oldest and biggest opposition party, the Union for Democracy and Social Progress (UDPS) which his late father Etienne Tshisekedi led for decades, won the Presidential race with 38% (7 million) of the vote, defeating Martin Fayulu, 34% (6.3 million), and Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary, who garnered 24% (4.35 million).
Given that DRC used the plurality voting electoral system like the American system, the winner with a majority votes takes all without a need for any reruns.
Condemnatory responses came in swiftly, claiming vote rigging. Starting with Fayulu who subsequently sued in the DRC’s Constitutional Court.
The DRC’s Roman Catholic Church, also rejected the results, as being at variance with their tally which forecasted a different winner. French Foreign Minister Jean Yves Le Drian claimed that Fayulu was expected to be declared the winner, while Belgian Foreign Minister Didier Reynders expressed doubt on the results, vowing to use Belgium’s temporary UN Security Council seat to investigate the situation.
The British Foreign Secretary, Jeremy Hunt expressed concern about the “discrepancies” in the results.
The Secretary-General of the UN, Antonia Guterres urged all parties to “refrain from violence” and live up to their responsibility in preserving stability.
Only the Only Russian and Chinese Representatives at the UN stated that they oppose foreign interference in the DRC.
The United States vowed to “hold accountable” anyone who undermines democratic processes. Astonishingly, the Consultative Group meeting in Addis Ababa on January 17, chaired by the AU Chairperson, Paul Kagame, President of Rwanda, expressed, “serious doubts” on the results and requested the DRC government to delay announcing the final results.
In this regard, AU Chairman, the President of Rwanda, Paul Kagame and the Chair of the AU Commission Moussa Faki were to visit the DRC to forge a consensus way out.
This commentary is written entirely in my personal capacity as a private citizen.