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

Friday, November 5, 2010

Polling in the Congo

We are still a long way away from elections in the Congo (November 2011 is the chimerical date), but, as any Congo Siasa enthusiast will know, there are already a bunch of contenders. See here for two short Jeune Afrique interviews with Vital Kamerhe and Etienne Tshisekedi from last month - both are good speakers, Kamerhe more so than Tshisekedi, who looks a bit tired, but who also has a much longer track record of a serious political opponent, ready to sacrifice a lot. Kamerhe is an unknown in that regard - is he launching an opposition movement "pour aller jusqu'au bout," or is this a negotiation tactic with Kabila?

In any case, Kamerhe implies (without saying it - "let Congolese speculate positively") that he will be a candidate in 2011 and that he has met both Tshisekedi and Bemba recently.

So who is popular in the polls? "What polls?" would be the appropriate answer, I think. There is not much to go by in the Congo - BERCI, perhaps the most reputable pollster in the country, hasn't been heard of much in recent years. Polls are usually commissioned by the press or political parties. The former are too poor in the Congo (circulation is probably no more than 10,000-15,000 for the most popular ones in Kinshasa, although statistics vary), and political parties have not yet adopted polling as a useful tactic. After all, a good polls is expensive, as you have to get a decent sample of the whole country and avoid selection bias by just selecting phone owners or city dwellers.

Nonetheless, the pollster Institut les Points published a poll in the newspaper "Le Soft" a few days ago that asked voters who they would vote for in a presidential election. It's a classic "Le Soft" piece - the newspaper once commissioned a poll from the same institute asking who the most popular newspaper in the country was - surprise, surprise, it was "Le Soft," which is owned by former Mobutist and RCD minister Kin Key Mulumba.

Anyway, for whatever it's worth (it may not be much), the poll ranks Joseph Kabila first with 27% of the vote, Tshisekedi second with 22% and Kamerhe third with 5%. Say what? That totals up to 54% - who did the other 46% vote for? If my math is right, and no other candidate got more than 3rd placed Kamerhe, there must have been at least eleven other candidates or a large percentage voting for nobody.

The second poll that I would recommend looking at was conducted by the popular diaspora website Congo Mikili, who have a video here explaining the results. I like their emphasis on how "scientific" the poll is, and therefore the number cannot be contested ("others may tell you otherwise, but this is the scientific truth). was a poll on a website, taken overwhelmingly by people outside of the Congo - most voters came from France, Canada, US, UK and Belgium. The words "selection bias" come to mind, especially as Congo Mikili has a pretty heavy anti-Kabila tone.

In any case, Tshisekedi was surprisingly popular for leader who boycotted the 2006 elections (to the dismay of many) and took the crown with 30%, JP Bemba is runner-up with 14%, Moise Katumbi got 12% and "No leader" got 11% - i.e. "I don't like any of the above options" - and Joseph Kabila got 8%.


Unknown said...

Did you forget to say that "le soft" is a pro KANAMBE aka KABILA as yourself, and KIN KEY MULUMBA is AMP member? arretes tes conneries. congo mikili poll was open to anybody on the web. Maybe you did vote for your protege KANAMBE that is why he had 8%
2006 africa time poll: 64,07% BEMBA, 35,17% KABILA and 0,75 sans opinion. tell the truth.

Unknown said...

Après un premier tour historique, la RDC s'achemine surement vers un second tour de l'élection présidentielle qui opposera Jean-Pierre Bemba à Joseph Kabila...

Bemba ou Kabila, qui remportera le 2ème tour de l'élection présidentielle du 29 octobre 2006 ?
...Jean-pierre Bemba

64.07% (23828 votes)
...Joseph Kabila

35.17% (13080 votes)
...Sans opinion

0.75% (280 votes)
Nombre total de votes: 37188 personnes

Dans la presse sur ce thème:
Vers un tête-à-tête Joseph Kabila - Jean-Pierre Bemba
Les arbitres du deuxième tour : Gizenga, Nzanga, Kashala et Tshisekedi
Thabo Mbeki et Javier Solana ce lundi à Kinshasa: Fortes pressions sur Kabila et Bemba
Antoine Gizenga l'homme fort du second tour des présidentielles

Rich said...

Hey Jason,

You are kind to label the Congo mikili joke a selection bias. In my opinion, the piece by Congo mikili ticks all the box of a bad sampling or representation of population parameters.

After watching that video what came to my mind was not only bias due to unrepresentative samples or selection bias as you said; but also bias due to measurement error, the way questions are asked and the environment in which the survey is conducted.

By the way, do we know the size of that sample? How many respondents took part in the survey? What is the extent of uncertainty generated by the survey method? What was done to prevent people to repeat their votes more than once? How much do we know about respondents’ age or gender structure, their ethnicity, their political views etc.

One common feature with the majority of Congolese asylum seekers (almost 80% of Congolese residing in Europe went through that system) is to make sure they paint an as darker picture as possible of the political situation in their home country in order to JUSTIFY their claim for asylum.

What is known as “phenomène mikili” (claiming asylum in order to gain residence status in developed countries) is mostly common with people from Kinshasa than those who are the true victims of the atrocities that is going on in the Congo. In the mean time true victims are struggling in IDP camps and are unable to make it even to an airport. I worked as an interpreter (translating Lingala, Swahili, French and English) at the British Home Office and I know what I am talking about.

Unknown said...

To Rich,

I'm not here to doubt your inteligence but I just note that for a simple matters of a comment on a hypothetical poll you came in swinging like a Daily Mail reader( a writer perhaps).

Just tell since when simple interpreters are taking on caseworkers loads in that dysfonctional HO?

Why refugees are only those who are come out of camps? Are ARN prisons so empty that the Gov. are running scouts camps in,Aren't they?

You know the darker pictures here would be that your " so fake asylum seeker" are supporting those they are saying make their life misery. That is the truth you won't to see even imagine after 10 years of inefficiency, even less as with obama people want to move on, instead you fold into your own contradiction and suspicious.
I hope you would spare us your stupidity next time. Kindly translate for yourself "Mbozobobo, Bulufa"

I hope nextime you spare us of your stupidity

Rich said...

@ massambal

Trust me; I’m not here to feed the trolls!

Presenting facts would most likely help advance your cause - if ever you have one - than what you've attempted to achieve in your post above!

As far as I'm concerned, I simply expressed an informed opinion and never asked to be treated with outrage by neither you nor anyone else!

I hope this is our last exchange and that I did not offend you. If you feel offended by what I said, I can only apologise and implore that you ignore my contradicting or confusing comments next time.

Unknown said...

@ rich

you talk only about congo mikili poll, what about africa time's poll? We will ignore your comments only if you stop talking about us.

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