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, June 17, 2011

Tidbits from travels

I have been traveling over the past few weeks in London, Brussels and Nairobi. In the course of these travels I have been speaking with some interesting people. Here are some tidbits from these conversations, some of which I still have to confirm (readers welcome to chip in):

  • The Congolese government has postponed arbitration over key oil blocks in the Atlantic with the Angolan government until 2013. This follows heightened tensions over Blocks 14 & 15 that prompted speculation that Angola may be considering supporting an opponent to Kabila during the upcoming elections. By putting off arbitration the Congolese government has managed to firm up relations with their southern neighbor.
  • Butembo, the North Kivu town long known for its booming trade and business sector, has been losing its edge in the import-export business that brought it prosperity. This may be linked to two factors: first, traders from elsewhere in the Congo have begun to establish networks in Dubai and Guangzhou, so Butembo-based traders no longer have an advantage; secondly, the business arrangement between the Butembo business elite and local politicians has frayed - during the war, this relationship (with Mbusa Nyamwisi at the time) allowed businessmen to avoid the exobitant customs and taxes traders had to deal with elsewhere.
  • Several independent analysts from Kinshasa give Kabila good chances at winning the upcoming elections. The constitutional revision, coupled with the significant resources the government is already pouring into campaigning, as well as the fractured opposition, lead them to believe Kabila could win, even if he only gets 25% of the total vote.


Anonymous said...

The tragedy we have in africa and especially central,east and sub-saharan africa is everyone in the opposition parties wants to be president and its never about better governance or "liberating" the common man. With this in mind the incumbent president always ends up winning the said election.

Rich said...

I too have a gut feeling that J. Kabila will win the 2011 elections but this will be the result of many many dynamics including malicious and non-malicious ones. Being able to disentangle malicious tactics from non-malicious ones will never be an easy task; transparency has never been a reality in Congolese politic (opposition and power alike). However, I know this will sound naïve but, J. Kabila can help defuse somehow some tension by declaring publicly that this will be his last mandate if ever he wins...

Anonymous said...

Opposition is perhaps not the right term for those in Sub Saharan Africa who want to be “Caliph at the Caliph’s place”. Political opposition means a state of being opposed to a policy of a government, but not necessarily to all decisions or plans of a government. If, however, it is the only policy of a government to keep in power, and the only policy of her opponents to gain power (and wealth), then it is probably more honest to talk of ‘competition’ or ‘rivalry’.

Rich's suggestion of a 'confidence building measure' by Kablia announcing the final term should he win makes much sense, both to diminish mutual mistrust and to foster democratic thinking.

I would not hold my breath though.

sasha said...

Dear Jason,
I often try to keep the reality of this war alive in the minds of friends and family members. With the entire Middle East embroiled in conflict, people are even less aware of this war of uspeakable dimensions. Sometimes friends fact-check the atrocities I relate because this war is so far from the consciousness of nearly everyone. Thank you for making sure the world does not forget Congo. I continue to ask the universe to show mercy upon a people who have experieced the most pathological actions man is capable of.

Mélanie said...

I am still to meet a single person from/in DRC not convinced that Kabila isn't going to win. I am still to meet one single person voting for him too...

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