Painting by Cheri Samba

Lokuta eyaka na ascenseur, kasi vérité eyei na escalier mpe ekomi. Lies come up in the elevator; the truth takes the stairs but gets here eventually. - Koffi Olomide

Ésthetique eboma vélo. Aesthetics will kill a bicycle. - Felix Wazekwa

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Kabila shuffles his cabinet: analysis

After months of waiting and rumor-mongering, President finally shuffled his cabinet today. (A full list of the new cabinet can be found here.) He trimmed it down from 54 to 43 members, mostly by cutting down on vice-ministers (many weren't sure what they did anyway), but otherwise the most important aspect of this shuffle is what did not happen.

The embattled Prime Minister Adolphe Muzito was not fired, as many had suspected, for charges of corruption and ineffectiveness. The important ministries of defense, mining, foreign affairs, information and planning were not changed. And, above all, the Kabila alliance between his AMP coalition, Antoine Gizenga's PALU and Nzanga Mobutu's UDEMO has not been affected. I can understand keeping Muzito around and maintaining the alliance with PALU, as they do have a decent electoral machine in Kinshasa and Bandundu, but UDEMO? Nzanga Mobutu was barely able to bring any MPs with him into alliance, and only a few per cent of Equateur voted for him.

The other thing that did not happen was that the CNDP did not get any ministerial positions. Not even a vice-minister, apparently. The one Tutsi minister who had been in the cabinet, the former CNDP sympathizer Safi Adili, was fired after only 14 months from the Ministry of Rural Development and replaced by a Katangan who as recently as 2003 was an mid-level assistant in the ministry. The CNDP has been banking on getting at least one ministry as part of their deal with Kabila to dismantle the parallel administration - this may affect the peace process in the East.

The new nominations are a bit lackluster, I must say. The government used to have three vice prime ministers, one for security, another for reconstruction and the last for social needs. They got rid of the reconstruction one and replaced him with one for post and telecommunications. That's right - the Congo now has a vice PM for the post office. Has anyone ever been to a post office in the Congo recently? Not exactly functional. But mobile phones are one of the biggest industries, so maybe that's why. The guy that Kabila nominated, Simon BULUPIY GALATI, is a relative unknown former MP from Haut Uele.

The other big changes are: MATATA PONYO MAPON replaces Athanasa Matenda at the ministry of finance - not a huge change there, as he used to be the head of BCECO, the procurement office that attributes most contracts for foreign assistance managed by the Congolese. He has the trust of the World Bank and IMF.

Kabila took advantage of the shuffle to reconfigure his own personal cabinet. Perhaps the most interesting thing is the new-found importance of oil. Since his chief of staff Adolphe Lumanu is now the powerful vice PM for security, he named a new one, another Kasaian: Gustave Beya, who had been at the oil ministry before. Just goes to show how important oil is becoming in the Congo's future (see other blog postings about oil here - and that's just offshore oil, not to mention the reserves in Lake Albert). Along the same lines, the former Minister of Interior, Celestin Mbuyu, a close Kabila ally, has been named as the new minister of oil.

Also newly named was Kabila's national security adviser, a position that has in the past wielded huge control over the intelligence services in the country. That position has now been filled by a Kivutian, Pierre Lumbi, (it used to be headed by a Katangan) who used to be the minister of reconstruction and is credited for having negotiated the $9 billion Chinese reconstruction deal. Lumbi, now 60 years old, is the godfather of the civil society movement in South Kivu; let's see if he remembers his roots.


Unknown said...

Security Advisor wielding huge control over intelligence? Unless you are not talking about Professor Kaumba Lufunda. I think General Numbi (and to some extent Mr Katumba Mwanke) has been the de facto Security Advisor over the last 2 years. Neither Professor Kaumba nor the Army Chief of Staff, General Didier Etumba were informed when President Joseph Kabila negotiated and signed the "Umoja Wetu" agreement with the Rwandan General Kabarebe. General Numbi was the mastermind and the pillar of that failed enterprise.
If it is Samba Kaputo, another guy from Katanga, but born and raised in Bukavu, then you are right. He was involved in all the security matters (and cover operations) since 2001 until his death August 2007.

Jason Stearns said...

No, I was thinking about Samba Kaputo. Since his death, security and intelligence has been doled out to various different people - Gen Numbi has been in charge of negotiating the deal with Rwanda and the CNDP, although much of the intelligence work on the Kivus has been handeld by Jean-Pierre Darwezi, the head of the ANR, and through various people working on military intelligence, including Colonel Jean-Claude Yav and General Mbala. When it comes to Kinshasa and Bas-Congo, other people seem to play more of a role, including Gen Raus Chalwe, Prof Kaumba. As always, it is not so much a hierarchy of commanders but a web of competing networks, waxing and waning in influence. But you are right, Kaumba has certainly been something of a non-entity, perhaps because Samba had been seen as a threat by Katumba.

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