Monday, December 22, 2014

Kabila, Burkina Faso, National Cohesion and Prospects for Change in Congo

As 2014 comes to a close, the dominant challenge facing Congolese people is the lengths to which President Joseph  Kabila will go to maintain a stranglehold on power. This unresolved question represents the greatest threat to peace and stability in the democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). It will continue to dominate the political landscape through 2016, when Kabila is constitutionally mandated to leave office. He will have completed the second of his two five-year terms (2006 – 2011 and 2011 – 2016) in December 2016.

Leaders in Kabila's Presidential Majority coalition have called for the constitution to be modified so that he can run for a third term. Even before its ratification in 2006, the Congolese constitution has been perverted to suit Kabila's personal interest. For example the minimum age required to run for President was lowered from 35 to 30 so that Kabila who was then 34 years old could qualify to run for President in the 2006 elections. In 2011, Kabila modified the constitution to facilitate the appropriation of the November 2011 elections.

This time, the Congolese populace led by the Catholic Church and 600 plus civil society organizations have said enough is enough. They have called on President Kabila not to touch the constitution, to organize elections at all levels (local, provincial and national) and to step down after the completion of his second term in 2016.

While Kabila's Presidential Majority coalition has been vocal about his remaining in power, Kabila has remained silent on whether he will stay or leave. Nonetheless, his actions have strongly indicated that he plans to stay by any means necessary. Options at his disposal include: changing the constitution, outright scrapping the constitution and initiating a new one; and delaying the 2016 Presidential elections through various measures. Kabila has reorganized the military to strengthen his hand and reshuffled the government under the misnomer “coalition government” in order to bring more political opportunists into the fold.

Kabila’s 2014 "message to the nation" on Monday, December 15th helped to further cement his intention to remain in power beyond 2016. During his speech, he warned against foreign "injunctions" as if calls from European nations and the United States for him to step down after 2016 represent the greatest demand on him to respect the country's constitution. In fact, the strongest resistance to Kabila remaining in power comes from Congolese inside the country.

Kabila also proclaimed during his speech that peace and stability has prevailed throughout the country, however, this is far from the case. The people of Beni in the North Kivu province have endured tremendous suffering, especially over the past two months. Over 250 people have been senselessly massacred. President Kabila paid a "too late, too little" visit to Beni in late October, ostensibly to demonstrate some level of concern for the inhabitants. Following his visit, angry youth disfigured and tore down a statue of Kabila to express their outrage and dissatisfaction with his lack of leadership and the inability of the state to protect the people. While in the Katanga province, over a half million people have been displaced due to militia activity.  Peace and stability remains fleeting under Joseph Kabila’s leadership.

A critical mass of Congolese youth and others have had enough. The question is often asked and widely debated as to whether the mass mobilization that took place in Burkina Faso that resulted in the ousting of President Blaise Compaoré can happen in the Congo or will influence the Congolese populace? Of course it has influenced Congolese youth and the Congolese government as well. Whether what transpired in Burkina Faso can actually happen in the DRC is yet to be seen. The hope is that people will not have to descend into the streets to make President Kabila respect the laws of the land. The expectation is that the pressure being applied by the Catholic Church, Civil society, youth throughout the country, noted Congolese figures such as Dr. Denis Mukwege of Panzi Hospital, politicians in the presidential majority, the opposition and others in the global community, will be sufficient to facilitate respect for the country's constitution and a peaceful transition to a new leadership in 2016.

Congolese youth and others are very clear about what is at stake. The moves made by the Kabila regime are based primarily on how he and his coterie of elites can remain in power and continue to benefit from their positions in the government at the expense of the people.

The next couple years will be a critical test for the Congolese people and those who have invested in peace and stability in the country. The central challenge remains the same since the modern founding of the DRC, will masses of Congolese be able to finally control and determine the affairs of the Congo so that they can be the primary beneficiaries of the country's spectacular wealth.

A vital pillar to peace and stability in the Congo is a government and leadership that benefits from the popular will of the people. The Congolese people are in dire need of a government that serves and protects the interests of the masses.  A social and political landscape where the people have a say in the decision-making process is paramount to peace and stability. It is only when the sons and the daughters of the Congo organize and mobilize to create such an environment that we will finally know and experience peace and be able to extricate ourselves from crushing poverty and perpetual dependency.

Kambale Musavuli
Friends of the Congo

Monday, December 08, 2014

New Congolese Government

President Joseph Kabila named a new government on Sunday, December 7th. Since national consultations in October 2013, many observers have been awaiting the naming of a so-called government of cohesion, which would include members of the opposition. Seven members from the opposition were included in the new cabinet, which will be led Prime Minister Augustin Matata Ponyo, who also led the previous government.

Over a year later, Kabila issued the names of the representatives of the new government. The number of members of the government increased by 11 from 37 in the former government to 48 in the new government. The new government led by Prime Minister Augustin Matata Ponyo is made up of three vice prime ministers, two ministers of state, 32 ministries and ten vice ministries

The new government is a far cry from a unity government or government of cohesion. The presidential majority has merely strengthened its hand in advance of the end of the presidential mandate of Joseph Kabila, which is supposed to come to an end in December 2016 when he will have completed the second of two five-year terms. Many signals have come from Kabila's camp that he aims to stay in power beyond 2016 by any means necessary. Decisions made over the next couple years by Kabila and his supporters is best viewed through the lens of methods or means he can leverage to remain in power beyond 2016.

Although the new government is dubbed as a government of cohesion or national unity, it is far from such. Major parties in the opposition such as UDPS (apparently a card carrying member of UDPS has joined the government but is not at all endorsed by the party) of Etienne Tshisekedi is not a part of the new government and neither are any members of Vital Kamerhe's UNC. Three members of Jean Pierre Bemba's MLC joined the new government, however, they were immediately dismissed from the party for not adhering to the policies of the party. The new government is without doubt dominated by the Presidential Majority and overtures to the opposition are symbolic at best. One cannot call the new government a cohesion government or a government of national unity.  Furthermore, the major thrust of the democratic forces in the country is around the departure of Kabila in 2016 and a peaceful transition via elections, the dominant concern is not being a part of a government that lacks legitimacy among the majority of the Congolese public.

Major ministries such as defense, finance, economy, mines are all under the full control of Joseph Kabila.

Premier Ministre:
Augustin Matata Ponyo

Article 1
Vice Prime Ministers:

1. Vice-premier et ministre de l’Intérieur et Sécurité : M. Evariste Boshab
2. Vice-premier et ministre des PT&NTIC : M. Thomas Luhaka Losendjola
3. Vice-premier et ministre de l’Emploi, Travail et Prévoyance Sociale : M. Willy Makiashi

Article 2 :
Ministres d’Etat et ministres en fonction:

4. Ministre d’Etat et ministre du Budget : M. Michel Bongongo
5. Ministre d’Etat et ministre de la Décentralisation et Affaire Coutumière : M. Simon Banamuhere

Article 3 :
Ministres en fonction:

6. Ministre des Affaires Etrangères et Coopération Internationale : M. Raymond Tshibanda
7. Ministre de la Défense, Anciens combattants et Réinsertion : M. Aimé Ngoy Mukena
8. Ministre de la Justice, Garde Sceau et Droits Humains : M. Alexis Thambwe Mwamba
9. Ministre du Portefeuille : Mme Louise Munga
10. Ministre de Relation avec le Parlement : M. Tryphon Kin-kiey Mulumba
11. Ministre de la Communication et Médias : M. Lambert Mende
12. Ministre de l’EPSP et Initiation à la Nouvelle Citoyenneté : M. Maker Mwangu Famba
13. Ministre du Plan et Révolution de la Modernité : M. Olivier Kamitatu
14. Ministre de la Fonction Publique : M. Jean-Claude Kibala
15. Ministre des Infrastructures : M. Fridolin Kasweshi
16. Ministre des Finances : Henri Yav Muland
17. Ministre de l’Economie Nationale : M. Modeste Bahati Lukwebo
8. Ministre de l’Environnement et Développement Durable : M. Bienvenu Lihota Ndjoli
19. Ministre du Commerce : Mme Ngudianga Bayokisa
20. Ministre de l’Industrie : M. Germain Kambinga
21. Ministre de l’Agriculture, Pêche et Elevage : M. Kabwe Mwewu
22. Ministre des Affaires Foncières : M. Bolengetenge Balela
23. Ministre des Mines: M. Martin Kabwelulu
24 : Ministre des Hydrocarbures : M. Crispin Atama Tabe
25. Ministre de l’Energie et Ressources Hydrauliques : M. Jeannot Matadi Nenga Gamanda
26. Ministre de la Culture et des Arts : M. Banza Mukalay
27. Ministre du Tourisme : M. Elvis Muntiri wa Bashala
28. Ministre de la Santé Publique : M. Félix Kabange Numbi
29. Ministre de l’ESU : M. Théophile Mbemba Fundu
30. Ministre de l’Enseignement Technique et Professionnel : M. Jean Nengbangba
31. Ministre de l’Aménagement du Territoire, Urbanisme et habitat : M. Omer Egwake
32. Ministre des Transports et Voies de Communication : M. Justin Kalumba
33. Ministre de la Recherche Scientifique et Technologique : M. Daniel Madimba Kalonji
34. Ministre du Genre, Famille et Enfant : Mme Bijoux Kat
35. Ministre des PME et Classe Moyenne : M. Bohongo Nkoy
36. Ministre du Développement Rural : M. Eugène Serufuli
37. Ministre de la Jeunesse, Sports et Loisirs : M. Sama Lukonde Kienge

Article 4 :
Vice-ministres en fonction:

38. Vice-ministre de l’Intérieur : Mme Martine Bukasa Ntumba
39. Vice-ministre de la Défense nationale : M. René Nsibu
40. Vice-ministre de la Justice et Droits Humains : M. Mboso Nkodia Mpuanga
41. Vice-ministre du Budget : Mme Ernestine Nyoka
42. Vice-ministre de la Coopération Internationale et Intégration Régionale : M. Franck Mwendi Malila
43. Vice-ministre des Congolais de l’Etranger : M. Antoine Boyamba
44. Vice-ministre de l’Energie : Mme Maguy Rwakabuba
45. Vice-ministre des Finances : M. Albert Mpeti
46. Vice-ministre du Plan : Mme Lisette Bisangana Ngalamulume
47. Vice-ministre des Postes et Télécommunications : M. Enoch Sebineza