• June 2nd, 2020

Sadc’s dexterity cements democracy in the DRC

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. 

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 59 years, Western multinational companies without regard for the basic socio-economic needs of the DRC citizens, benefited in 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. 
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. 

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. 

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 criticising 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 before 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 Shadary as the candidate of the ruling party, it became definte 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. 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.

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.

Without doubt the facilitative role played by Sadc through the intervention by Chairperson Geingob 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, President Geingob met with 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 Castro patiently listened to him for over an hour, he responded, "It is your country, we will support you" He was only asked the question: “Are you going to win the elections”? And upon answering “yes, through hard work”, he was informed by President Castro. 

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 asks for a specific help and Sadc in line with its principles will provide assistance.

c). The aftermath of 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) won the presidential race with 38 percent (7 million) of the vote, defeating Martin Fayulu, 34 percent (6.3 million), and Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary, who garnered 24 percent (4.35 million). Given that DRC used the plurality voting electro system like America, the winner with a majority votes takes all.

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. 

British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt expressed concern about the “discrepancies” in the results. 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, at the consultative group meeting in Addis Ababa on January 17, chaired by the AU Chairperson, Paul Kagame, President of Rwanda, the AU Heads of State and Government meeting in Addis Ababa on January 17, also expressed, “serious doubts” on the results and requested the DRC government to delay announcing the final results. 

In this regard, President Kagame and the Chair of the AU Commission Moussa Faki were to visit the DRC to forge a consensus way out. 

Despite the plethora of pressure from big power international players such as the French, USA, UK and others, President Hage Geingob calmly called for the Double Troika Summit inclusive of both the Organ on Politics Defence, and Security, headed by President Edgar Lungu of Zambia, which previously issued a statement for a recount, and of the Sadc Head of States and Government, on January 17, in Addis Ababa, to harmonise the Sadc regional position. 

Informed by DRC’s historical liberation struggle, territorial sovereignty and aspirations of the people of the DRC, under the Sadc chair, supported by other equally adept regional leaders from South Africa, Tanzania, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Mozambique and Angola, Sadc took a principled pragmatic revolutionary stand. 

Accordingly, Sadc made clear to the international community that the sovereignty and constitution of the DRC should be respected, and that there should be no outside interference in the country’s internal legal and political processes in finalizing the electoral process. On January 19, the Constitutional Court rejected Fayulu’s claims as unfounded, having failed to prove any inaccuracies in the figures, and further describing his calls for a recount as “absurd”. 
Sadc’s position of judiciousness was not only authenticated by the court’s verdict, but also by the turning around of these former antagonists.

Only after having accorded the DRC time to exhaust its internal processes, did Sadc step in to issue a congratulatory note to the winner and the people of DRC, urging them to work together peacefully. Sadc also raised in that meeting strong reservations on such a position, asking on which legal basis it would rest and what powers the consultative group had to instruct a national court in DRC not to announce final election results.

In this regard, some commentators have opined that the faux pas in the historically well-oiled AU machinery was caused by some AU member States which aligned themselves with the hasty denunciation responses which emanated from the French, Belgium and other Western countries. 

Be that as it may, the Sadc chair and his regional colleagues have demonstrated quality Pan-African leadership and dexterity in defusing the crisis faced by the DRC, the same as they have done through the effective handling and successful closure of the Madagascar elections in a peaceful manner.  Dr Hage Geingob has shown the same consistent high caliber steady leadership at home, in Namibia, where he introduced revolutionary innovations such as performance requirements in the public sector, for the lowest civil servant to the Minister; voluntary full and public disclosure of assets for himself and the First Lady, and of members of Parliament and civil servants. More importantly, he has reinvented the meaning of transparency and media independence. In fact, the media forms the Fourth Estate of Namibi's governance architecture and are essential stakeholders in nation-building process, he always stressed. 

Conclusively, as per the afore-stated facts, Sadc under the chairpersonship of Dr Geingob is indeed far from having betrayed the aspirations of the people of DRC, or dilly dallied on key decisions.
* Moses Pakote writes in his personal capacity as a private citizen.

New Era Reporter
2019-01-25 09:31:48 | 1 years ago

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