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

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Tshisekedi wants to go it alone

Reuters carried this story two days ago, an interview with Tshisekedi in which he says: "When I put forward my name as a candidate it was as the president of my party, the UDPS. And I believe I'm capable of doing that at the elections without necessarily making a coalition with other candidates."The interview made it plain that Tshisekedi is determined to run for the presidential election.

None of the local media seem to have picked up the story. In fact, the same day as the Reuters story ran, Radio Okapi ran a story on how the political opposition (including the UDPS) wanted to put forward a single candidate for the presidential election.

Vital Kamerhe recently urged the opposition to pick one sole candidate, but in private has also reportedly been suggesting that he is determined on running.

In the absence of good polling data, it is difficult to know how each candidate would do in a presidential election. Kamerhe has a solid base in the East of the country, and grew up in Bandundu and Kinshasa, while Tshiskedi has a large following in the capital, the Kasai provinces, Lubumbashi and other urban areas.


Richard Mwamba said...

To this day, most congolese leaders are corrupt with the exception of Tshisekedi. I will be in favor of him standing as independent. Kabila money machinary is at play to create confusion, to try and dismantle UPDS, this is already happening with the Beltchika and others. Organizing to pick one candidate from opposition will remind congolese of the disastrous CNS. Tshisekedi is the hope for Congo and most congolese know it.

Anonymous said...

Well, Tshisekedi is the hope for a certain generation of Congolese, yes.

But for the bulk of its mostly young voters who probably are clueless about the CNS and who's coming of age has been war and Kabila? That is debatable.

In my view, Tshi's position here is unfortunate. If he truly cares for his nation and its democratic promise than he would engage in the ongoing negotiations at pulling together party primaries to pick one slate of candidates.

The Congolese future isn't in the hands of him, Vital, Kashala, or whoever. It is up to the PEOPLE to decide who there leaders should be. Not the machinations of ambitious men (or women). And it is my continuing hope that the PEOPLE will be given a means to decide this via a democratic process like party primaries.

If Tshishi is so confident of his chances and has faith in his people, why not submit himself to such a process?


Anonymous said...

Well, I would not expect anything different from those who are basically primary candidates. They will have to settle things in some way, if not through an actual primary election, or just run separately.

Also the comments on the Wikileaks cable about the events of 2009 between Kabila and Kamerhe are starting to flow only now.
Must be a prolonged weekend effect.

Simone Salvatori

Anonymous said...

Etienne Tshisekedi. The man means a lot for millions of Congolese and he has symbolized hope for an entire country. But, as vivid as the memory is, this was in the eighties and nineties.

Today, a very large (if not the majority) of Congolese voters don’t really know who Tshisekedi is, except for the stories heard from their parents or others. Those born after 1985 will not vote for Tshisekedi, just for name recognition. To believe this will be a grotesque mistake. Moreover, after 10 years of Kabila’s reign, young Congolese voters have some clichés concerning leadership, especially regarding the age. Kabila was 29 when he was put in charge of the Congo. Blatantly said, for many of the young voters, Tshisekedi is too old.

Considering the conditions created by Kabila and his men [i.e.: a tailor made constitution, the time remaining (only 9 months!) and the advantages that generally benefit the incumbent in Africa], the Congolese opposition, if it wants to win, has no other choice but to attack under one banner. I understand why Tshisekedi is reticent but this is “realpolitik”. Sometimes you have to choose between the cholera and the plague. Politics is an art. One has to have a subtle and agile mind to be successful at it.

Like other love stories, Thisekedi’s love story with the Congolese people is full of deception, as some wonder if he really wants to rule the country. To me, Etienne Tshisekedi is like a brave tennis player who can never seal the deal when it’s match point.
The huge crowds that welcomed him last December and accompanied him from Ndjili airport to his home in Limete, won’t blindly vote for him. Watch the 2 videos Jason recently posted again and listen to some of the comments. It’s edifying. Also, don’t forget, this is “Kin, la Rebelle,” a city that succeeded in sending Mobutu to live in Gbadolite!! I’m pretty sure that Jean-Pierre Bemba coming back to Kinshasa today would draw the same crowds.

The bottom line is this: To win, the opposition must have one single candidate, and has to campaign all throughout the country. No name can be bet on!!
Julie M.

Anonymous said...

Amen, Sister Julie.

I know quite a few, mostly older, Congolese love Etienne and for good reason. He IS a good and fine man (met him in New York some 5 years ago). But most of my young, Congolese friends have no idea who he is. They have heard of him but mostly from elders.

And I hate to be blunt, but a good friend in Kikwit said to me last week that he resents the way Etienne seems to think he should just be, by virtue of his history, THE candidate. He likened it to Hillary vs Obama. Many Democrats just didn't feel that somehow becoming the Democratic nominee was something she deserved given her long history fighting for Democrats and being Bill's wife. Pascal, my friend, felt that Etienne has this air about him like Hillary did and does not like it. He kept saying "Most of my friends have respect for anyone who faught Mobutu. But this is our choice and we want change. Etienne doesn't represent change. Just more of the same.".

He's right. Etienne doesn't represent change in the truest sense. Everyone realizes there needs to be ONE list of candidates from President on down. So, I really hope we get some primaries. That is the only fair and democratic way to get to a SLATE that everyone can agree on.

And my friends are right: noone deserves a coronation in a democracy.

Etienne, and all others, must earn this right.

Rich said...

All political parties in DRC are run just like private businesses and UDPS is not an exception. Remember what Professor Marcel Antoine Lihau (one of the cofounders of UDPS and the greatest Congolese Consitutionalist) said about UDPS, “une coterie tribale” translating in English as a “tribal clique”.

Another case is that of J P Mbemba and the MLC, despite being indicted for serious crimes he is still running his party from Scheveningen’s cells instead of resigning whilst trying to clear his name and allow his party not to be over-shadowed by his own plight.

It is illusory expecting someone to democratise a country when they have never been able to democratise a political party.

Richard Mwamba said...

It was predictable that all forces of evil would unite to combat and defy Tshisekedi. Tshisekedi is for congolese what Nelson Mandela was and is for south africans. He stands for radical changes whether it is for old generation, the current and the future. As long as there's never been democracy in DRC, age doesn't matter. He undestands the western ideologies, the african betrayal, and the principles to move from neo-colonialism to a true congolese freedom. This affect all of us, young, old, and child. Congo has the youngest head of state in the world, Mr J. Kabila who rules this nation with fist and heartless. My son is 11 years, and Mandela, 2Pac, Michael Jackson, Tshisekedi are his idols. He likes to read the black history, the wars in Africa which according to him are a result of western conspiracy. He knows it all! Who is there right now in DRC who can lead this Nation with wisdom and dignity. Who is there in the ranks of the opposition, the ruling party, the church, the civil society who can unite congolese? There is never been any time congolese have been divided than during Kabila's tenure. Tshisekedi to many congolese is a symbol of hope, courage and dignity. We need him now!

Anonymous said...

I believe that for those of you who are againest thisekedi, the paradise is not for you. you might live in congo for decade, but you are not congolese.

Anonymous said...

Mustapha and Richard-

It is clear you both are Tshisekedi partisans. This I can respect. But, if you would, please do not mark those who are not as spawn of Satan himself. As others have said, it is up to the people of the Congo to freely choose their leaders- be this Tshi, Vital, Kabila, or whoever steps forward.

Right now, it is clear that those who want to get rid of Kabila are divided on WHO should be the standard bearer. This reflects the divisions amongst the people about who this could best be.

That is democracy. And it is perfectly reasonable, given how challenging life is for people, to be divided on who best to lead them to beat Kabila.

Given these divisions, would it not be better to have all these candidates submit themselves to primaries so that the people can freely choose?

The democracy in Congo is still young. But if it is to deepen beyond all these men and everyone reading this blog, all those who seek to lead the nation should submit themselves to party primaries and general elections. This is the only way, in a nation with several regional, ethnic, religious divisions can have trust in the process of democracy.

And it is also how the opposition can unite which, on its own, will lead to a stronger democracy for generations of the Congo's people.

There is nothing to fear from a primary. In fact, it will unite people as long as it is free, transparent, and open to the people.

Please gentleman, do not cast fire unto those who support Congolese democracy simply because we want the process to be open and accountable to the people of Congo.

Richard Mwamba said...

Dear Anonymous, reading your lines I can detect your american accent, which makes me believe you are an american citizen. Do you want to talk about primaries in less than 10 months of the general elections. This is not a DNC or RNC matter, this is a coalition of different and distinct parties. With the exception of Vital Kamerhe, all other uncorrupted opposition learders have expressed desire to concede to Tshisekedi. Let's think about the vast area of the Nation to cover, the infrastructure, the money and to be able to succeed in organizing these primaries, this means for a baby democracy as you had put it, the election day will be moved to next year.The majority of the people of Congo have made their choice clear and if you didn't watch the triumphal return of Tshisekedi in Kinshasa, you can ask Jason to forward you the videos. What shocks me is that not a single western had even talked about this event. We all know Kabila and his western supporters are in a hot seat and they know the only person who can beat them is Tshisekedi. How you will know Tshisekedi is the hope for Congo is when Kabila and his team decide via the electoral law to limit the age of presidential candidates to 70 years, thereby excluding Tshisekedi from running, that's when the Congolese revolution will begin.

Anonymous said...

Yes, Richard. I am a proud American married to a Congolese man from Gbadolite whose father was killed by Mobuto when he was 11.

I am also aware of Tshi lovely return and I am happy the people are happy.

And I am finally aware of the logistical challenges a primary would mean for the nation.

Nonetheless, it remains a fact that the people of Congo are divided as it relates to who should face Kabila. And if that wasn't the case then the opposition would have already said "Tshi is our guy".

Has that happened yet? No it hasn't and you know that Sir Richard.

Thus, I will repeat: if Vital, Etienne, and all the others truly believe that the people of Congo should decide their leaders they would have no problem submitting themselves to a primary and paying up for it.

It is the PEOPLE who are sovereign, Richard.

Indeed, that is the position of many Congolese I know in the nation who have no clue who any of these men are. Yes, Etienne is VERY popular in Kinshasa and Katanga. But as you know, there is more to the Congo than Kinshasa and Katanga.

Feel free to bring your revolution, Richard. I doubt that will unite the people or bring the nation peace and development.

You may cast aside my suggestions if you want given I am a American.

After all, what do we know about things like freedom and liberty right?

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