Change of guard in DRC


THE change the people of the Democratic Republic of Congo have long waited for is here.
Felix Tshisekedi, who was declared winner of the December 30, 2018 poll, will be sworn in today.
Mr Tshisekedi, the son of the late veteran opposition leader Étienne Tshisekedi, is taking over the mantle from Joseph Kabila, who has ruled the DRC for 18 years having taken over from his father Laurent-Désiré Kabila following his assassination in 2001.
That peace has continued to prevail in the DRC even in the aftermath of the elections that Mr Tshisekedi’s main rival, Martin Fayulu, a former Exxon Mobil country manager, claims were rigged is a measure of the confidence people have in the President-elect.
The country’s electoral commission declared that Mr Tshisekedi had received 38.5 percent of the vote, compared with 34.7 percent for Mr Fayulu while ruling coalition candidate Emmanuel Shadary was in distant third with 23.8 votes.
But Mr Fayulu alleged that Mr Tshisekedi had stolen the vote with the help of Mr Kabila with whom he has struck a deal and appealed to the Constitutional Court. However, the Constitution Court upheld Mr Tshisekedi’s victory.
Mr Fayulu’s calls for protests have been largely ignored in what seems like the Congolese people being fatigued of violence and wanting peace.
“I ask the entire international community not to recognise a power that has neither legitimacy nor legal standing to represent the Congolese people,” Mr Fayulu said of Mr Tshisekedi.
Ordinarily, clashes should have been the order of the day in the aftermath of the elections such as this one.
In 2006, there were running battles in Kinshasa and elsewhere when former rebel leader and Vice- President Jean-Pierre Bemba lost to Mr Kabila.
But the country is calm, especially Kinshasa, the country’s political campus because the Congolese seem to have accepted Mr Tshisekedi.
The DRC lived through two regional wars in 1996-1997 and 1998-2003, and the previous two elections, in 2006 and 2011, were marred by bloody clashes.
The 16-nation Southern African Development Community (SADC) congratulated Mr Tshisekedi on Sunday.
Despite the country’s natural resources endowment, the DRC is on the margins of poverty.
Unemployment levels are extremely high while public service workers are poorly paid. Congolese expect the incoming President to distribute wealth equitably.
They want Mr Tshisekedi to prioritise the social sector by building more schools, health facilities and roads.
The President-elect has admitted to lacking experience but has told the media that he has not contributed to making the country poor by either diverting money or selling the mines.
Tackling poverty levels in Congo will go hand in hand with handling the fragile eastern part of the country.
Due to its mineral endowment, the eastern part of Congo has not known peace. North Kivu and South Kivu are home to coltan, uranium, cobalt and copper.
These have fuelled armed conflicts which are depriving the country from benefitting from its mineral endowment.
Mr Tshisekedi has a lot of goodwill from Congolese for being the change they have been waiting for.
Besides change, a lot is expected from the man who reminds Congolese of his late father, Etienne Tshisekedi.
Through him, Congolese believe his father still lives.
The author is editorials editor at the Zambia Daily Mail.

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