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, March 6, 2012

Heavyweights compete for top positions in Congolese government

Last December, while the diplomatic community was up in arms over the electoral fiasco in the Congo, a friend in Kabila's government pointed out: "You'll see, pretty soon the elected MPs will be more worried about jockeying for positions in the new government than this mess of an election."

It seems that he might be right. Since the repression of the Catholic Church's demonstration on February 16, the opposition seems unlikely to bring pressure through popular mobilization. Their institutional leverage is also feeble, as the UDPS' boycott of parliament is unlikely to muster more than 40-60 MPs, and while the Kabila coalition is deeply fractured, they will have at least enough seats to convene and to debate laws. Finally, donors have not been able to either muster the political will to take a tough stance or figure out what the alternative to just accepting fraudulent elections could be (these two failures feed off each other).

So attention has turned elsewhere: to the naming of a new government and a new leadership for the national assembly. On Saturday, Prime Minister Adolphe Muzito officially submitted the resignation of his government to President Kabila, paving the way for a new government. So who is in the running?

The Kinshasa papers put forward several candidates for prime minister. On Monday, Le Potentiel, probably the biggest daily, ran a title page with the pictures of Adolphe Muzito, Louis Koyagialo, Evariste Boshab and Pierre Lumbi. Meanwhile, Le Palmarès pointed to four parties vying for the presidency of the national assembly: Evariste Boshab's PPRD, Olivier Kamitatu's ARC, Pierre Lumbi's MSR, and Bahati Lukwebo's AFDC.

In 2007, there were criteria for becoming prime minister. You had to belong to a party that Kabila could not take for granted and that, in an ideal world, would bolster his legitimacy. Coming from the West of the country was an additional plus. Antoine Gizenga's PALU, with 34 seats and a strong base in Bandundu province, was an ideal choice. But these same criteria would exclude some of the names listed by Le Potentiel: Pierre Lumbi is from Maniema and Louis Koyagialo does not head an important political party. Boshab would appear to qualify (he's from Kasai and heads the PPRD), but he is currently fighting off allegations of corruption from when he was president of the national assembly. And no one can really imagine Muzito being re-named prime minister after the accusations of corruption and poor leadership lodged against him.

For the PM position, Kabila has to decide whether he wants to solidify support among his regime's stalwarts - especially in the wake of the death of his close advisor Katumba Mwanke, which sparked unrest - or to court opposition members. If it is the former, he might pick Lumbi or Boshab, or, if he doesn't want to take sides in the struggle among his inner circle, he might go to a second circle candidate, like Olivier Kamitatu or Aubin Minaku. If it's the latter and he reaches out to the opposition, which is apparently unlikely, he could reach out to Kengo wa Dondo or even someone from the MLC.

As for the national assembly, in 2007 the most important criteria was the number of seats had. But the PPRD, by far the strongest party with 62 seats, is led by Boshab, who in addition to the corruption allegations has to deal with a general sense of dissatisfaction from MPs with his management of the assembly. To top it off, under his guidance the PPRD has been diminished from 111 to 62 seats. Olivier Kamitatu, on the other hand, is from Bandundu and popular among diplomats, but his ARC party is only the eighth strongest with 16 seats. Bahati Lukwebo is an easterner and only has 15 seats.

Here, it will be difficult for someone to get through who does not lead an important political party. So it's down to Boshab, Lumbi, Kamitatu, Bahati or someone from PALU (Gizenga, who is 86, will not take this job).

As one can see, the same names come up for both jobs, which means there will be horse-trading for positions. Also, given how fragmented the national assembly is, and the messy struggle for power following Katumba's death, we could be in for a long delay before the government is formed.


Anonymous said...

As long as Tshisekedi is out of the battle, it does not matter who will take the top position.
What if - after the horse-trading for positions, some one from Swahililand became PM? will you call it a surprise or compromise?

Anonymous said...

Who is Katumba? which kind of music he sings, is he the one once i saw singing with Kofi? if he is the one he dance very well - RIP Katumba.

Aaron-sonny kapeta said...


Rich said...

Muzito is to hand in his resignation letter tomorrow. Meanwhile, Louis Alphonse Koyagialo Gbase Tegeregbo has been designated as the interim Prime Minister.


blaise said...

OMG, what's up with that swahililand dude?lol. Is it everything about that idea? Breaking news: if there is secession, it will be "chacun pour soi". Good luck trying to unite different provinces.
For the government and national assembly concern, I don't think JK should try again those Congolese's "geopolitics" shames. It seems to work in the short term but I believe it deserve the country in the long term, having Muzito basically blowing up the job. I believe that as long as the prime minister shows some competency, people will forget where he is from.( example of Khonde vila ki kanda in Goma). I hope it won't be Kengo, that will be foolish.
It's a pity that the opposition doesn't take advantage of all this to make some moves and make some impact. I can forecast a lot of bickering on the aftermath of those distributions of positions. That will be the right time to upset JK's agenda like the way Kengo prevailed in the senate and upset Okitundu (I believe) for the presidency.
There is definitively opportunities here, the opposition should try to device plans to takeover the situation. Simple wishy-washy things.

Anonymous said...

I just saw a news report that Donald Payne the ranking Democratic member on the House Subcommitte for Africa has passed away.

What this portends for US policy towards the DRC is hard to say. In the recent Subcommitte Hearings on the elections in the DRC he made some extremely pointed comments directed at Congolese civil society in general and the political opposition in particular regarding Etienne Tshisekedi.

Whether or not one agrees with the criticism, it was pretty clear from the hearings that there is a bipartisan antipathy towards the UDPS leader in the Congress. At the SAIS panel presentation on the elections, Jason made the point that US foreign policy shouldn't be based on a practical matter it is a factor. It is no secret that over the years Tshisekedi has alienated western governments for a variety of reasons.

The bigger question is where does the UDPS go from here? From what I've read the US has been urging all parties to seat their members in the National Assembly. Perhaps the UDPS boycott and the threatened expulsion of defecting members are appropriate under the circumstances; I suspect the view in Washington is that the boycott is another in a series of tactical mistakes. Even if its institutional leverage is limited today, the UDPS could use its position in the legislature as a platform to build its constituent base for the future.

Congressman Payne was typically sympathetic to opposition candidates and parties; perhaps it is time for the UDPS to consider a strategic rethink. In any event, his passing will be mourned by Americans who looked to him for leadership with regard to US foreign policy in Africa.

FrancoPepeKalle said...

Hypolite Kanambe is losing power and his government does not exist right now. Hypolite Kanambe better use his allies to prevent President Hypolite Kanambe for getting power allwise, he will be kicked out and all the fellow collabos will lose everything too. Tshisekedi is the president not Hypolite Kanambe.

Anonymous said...

Geopolitics in congo is a reality that one should not minimize or dismiss. It is a ticking bomb. If one wants to reduce the weight of geopolitics he/she has to decentralized or at best federalized the administration of the country to the extent that each administrative entity mainly provinces benefit certain freedom in managing its resources to profit local people first. Other than that we are still long way to go and say one would say: "the harder they come, the harder they go..." I can't imagine congolese continue to accept a domination of one group from one province or part of the country. Soon or later the blast will happen and we will go toward another season of liberation. Those with eyes and hears better listen to the last election's message from the western part of the Congo. Enough is Enough! That's what I heard... What did you hear?

Colored Opinions said...

Bipartisan antipathy towards Tshisekedi and exagerated praise for others in the region isn't something I associate with leadership. Tshisekedi and his UDPS might have made mistakes, it's not up to Donald Payne or any other US politician to make claims like: "his time has come and passed". Quite frankly I am looking for politicians who go beyond their comfort zone, who go that extra mile, who engage instead of doing business as usual.

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