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

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Justice in the Congo, peace through satellites

A court in Bukavu today sentenced the former governor of South Kivu Déogratias Buhamba Hamba to twelve months of prison and a fine of $1,000. The reason? Last Saturday, at around midnight, he was coming out of a marriage party when a UN military observer blocked his path with his car. When the Uruguayan officer took too long to move his vehicle, Buhamba got out and attacked the man, ripping his shirt and taking some of his documents. 

In his defense, Buhamba, who is now a provincial parliamentarian, argued that he had the right to carry out the arrest of the UN official as a member of parliament. The court thought otherwise. 

Meanwhile, in Kinshasa, the government announced that it would put its first satellite into space. The Coordinator of the Space Project, Blaise Wamba Yetshi, said that the Congo will join South Africa and Nigeria as African countries with satellites in space. Quoted in the newspaper Le Phare, he also said that the launch would bring prosperity for the Congo, raising the budget dramatically, and bringing peace and institutional stability. 

See here for a past similar experience....  


Unknown said...

Because of their insecurities, JK and DRCgov have let complacency and this ill of impunity spread throughout the system. DRC politicians and soldiers have come to think they are little gods.

Now the DRC needs a shock therapy. I suggest swift extra-judicial procedures and the reinstatement of the death-penalty just for Congolese high-ranking politicians and soldiers. Those who rape women or steal public money should be shot publicly.


Rich said...

Jason -

Here is the other story about the satellite.


blaise said...

Dizolele's testimony to the senate

Pat said...

If Patrice Lumumba was imprisoned today…

Supposedly everyone knows who Patrice Lumumba was. If before reading these lines they were ignorant about him, I suppose they might be foreign to the Congolese history particularly, or African independence period all together. That means that they didn’t either know who Nkwame Nkrumah was. But to give them a clue, from 5th to 13th December 1958, the latter organized a continental meeting in Accra [All African Peoples’ Conference] that the former attended.

The reason I am asking if Patrice Lumumba was imprisoned today is further to a letter said to be from the Honorable Eugene Diomi Ndongala, a Congolese member of parliament, written to his wife Patrizia and published on 13/4/13 on the website of the politician party – La Democracie Chretienne. As those following the DRC politics must already know, Diomi was again taken into prison on Monday night 8/4/13 from his residence in Kinshasa by police forces led by Colonel Kanyama.

“Now they want to deprive us of our land after having nourished it for years with the blood of our mothers, our fathers and children slaughtered by the millions ….”

Last year I wrote about the disappearance and release of the Congolese parliamentarian. He stayed detained for almost 100 days. It was only after a strong campaign from friends, family and international pressure that he was given back his freedom of relative movement [he was denied to leave DRC from treatment] after months of torture and living under inhumane conditions in the hands of the Congolese dictatorial regime.

Patrice Lumumba, also feeling close to the end of his life once in the hands of his torturers, found time to write to his wife a letter which has become famous. He explains in that letter the motives of his struggle for which he was ready to accept the ultimate sacrifice: his own life.

“… what we wished for our country, its rights to an honorable life, to unstained dignity, to independence without restrictions, was never desired by the Belgian imperialists and the Western allies, who found direct and indirect allies, both deliberate and unintentional, amongst certain high officials of the United Nations, that organization in which we placed all our trust when we called on its assistance. …”

In the ongoing Congolese tragedy which started with both the end of the 1994 Rwandan genocide and the invasion of DRC by a joint coalition of Burundian, Rwandan and Ugandan forces in 1996, there have been a few Congolese names inside the country whose views have been internationally acknowledged as standing firmly against all odds to defend people’s interests, and ready to die for such a cause.

After this second incarceration of the Honorable Diomi Ndongala, Congolese diaspora has started organizing protests to demand his release. As observers of the DRC political scene can easily notice, the movement to free that radical representative of the people is not as strong as it should be.

My question is then how do people defend those who represent their most noble values when their oppressors put hands on them. And this is not particular to any community or country. If such values are at the heart of the majority of people, shouldn’t they be as vocal as necessary to claim the rights of one their flag bearers?


Pat said...

From his jail cell where he is being held on false charges of plotting to kill President Kabila and his prime minister, Eugene Diomi Ndongala, an opposition leader who has been tirelessly fighting for democracy in Congo, writes a letter to his beloved wife Patrizia Diomi. His letter resonates with sound wisdom and advice for the Congolese and their country as they fight for Democracy in a country …torn by war and the dictatorship of Kabila’s regime. This letter depicts the rich historic heritage of the Congolese and the fighting spirit of their forefathers and freedom fighters, the resilience of the people despite the numerous plagues they have had to endure throughout history. Eugene exhorts all of us to stand up for what is right, despite the odds. This is a call to action to us all:

« Dear Patrizia,

I do not need to remind you why I fight and why I am facing so much opposition. For years we faced many forms of intimidation, physical and moral violence. It is unnecessary to dwell on the details of their plots: They want to break our will to stand and speak on behalf of our proud and oppressed people. I wish that people could find in our collective conscience the strength of Kimpa Vita, Kimbangu’s strong belief in the dignity of free men; the courage of Lumumba and his fellow freedom fighter Gaston Diomi Ndongala, and again closer to us, the courage of Armand Tungulu and my friend Chebeya’s deep love for Congo.

They can imprison us, as they did with Tshisekedi, but the spark of dignity in us will never be extinguished.No other people in this world have endured suffering as much as Congolese have in recent history: Their natural resources are not their own anymore, millions of Congolese are forced into exile to escape the war, dictatorship, persecution and hunger. Everything is corrupt and what remains of the Congolese state collapses under the weight of betrayal, incompetence and the oppression of citizens. Our last bastion was our fertile land, of an unparalleled beauty in the world, land that has given birth to a dignified, strong and generous people. Now they want us out of our land, a land nurtured for years, with the remains of our mothers, fathers and children they massacred by the millions….


Kongo in NYC said...

Always nice to get some good news. Thanks for posting this, Jason.

I can say anecdotally that family members in Mbandaka are doing much better these days. The dredging on that bend of the Congo seems to be finished and river trade traffic- so critical to riverine cities- has picked up according to them. My family has long traded in consumer appliances and electronics and, according to them, sales at various depots on river towns and cities are way up. Indeed, things are so good that my family is considering going into business w/ a Kenyan investor looking to build a sawmill in Lisala (source lumber from the rainforest, process it at the mill, export the finished product to Kenya's booming construction sector). And ofcourse, everyone is thrilled with the cheap broadband- and thus facebook access- Orange has provided.

So, all in all, the improving macroeconomic picture appears to be trickling down, as it were.


I appreciate the sentiment but that's some twisted logic there, brother. So, you want to apply the death penalty to the elites but, I assume, spare it for residents of the Republic? How exactly does that advance the rule of law in our homeland? Again, I understand and agree with your sentiment but I guess I think the better path here is to ensure laws are enforced and applied equally regardless of station, rank, etc.

Pat said...

Say the truth/ there is no rule of law in DRCongo today. Do not hide the reality

Unknown said...

@Kongo in NYC

Thanks for your reply. You raise interesting stuff and I will ask you some questions.

Call it tongue in cheek or certainly frustration, but one is allowed some hyperbola now and then. LOL! From my non-social-science background, I tend to look at things “unfortunately with an objectively-cold-eye, no matter my personal sentiments”!

But you can certainly notice that I hate impunity and lawlessness. But it can be too easy for most of us to pontificate behind our smartphones or laptops. For once I want to play devil advocate for DRCgov or rather Joseph Kabila. Look how JK (the reluctant ruler as historians reveal now…), what could he have done differently?
He came from Tanzania knowing little about Zaire/Congo, propped-up initially by “Tutsi Rwandans”, with FAZ to contend with, then the rest of militias. Whom do you trust? How do you build anything if you are not sure of anything? NOW THAT JK HAS SEEN THAT FAZ OR ANY OTHER CONGOLESE ONLY WANT A STRONG CONGO, HE IS LETTING OFF MORE AND MORE. My point is JK is not that typical “hard-core absolutist African dictator (like Mubarak, IdiAmin, Museveni or Kagame) he is made out to be”. Am I lying?

The problem with me is that I don’t look at politics in general or Congolese political upheaval particularly as a black or white affair. I HATE IDEOLOGIES and MESSIAHS! There is always a shade of grey somewhere. For me JK (or DRCgov) will never be a saint, but he/they can’t be the “absolute devil” he/they are made out to be by some int’l media/opinion. Which urges me to question why?
I want Congo to move forward by whoever it is!

You and I want the same thing for Congo. A question to you: what do you want JK to do concretely?


blaise said...

@Kongo in NYC
It's interesting that things are picking up in Mbandaka. I even read somewhere that traders in the town had increased trading with Kisangani.
My biggest concern is the increase of illegal logging,specially timber,that is the result of construction booming not only in Kenya but in East Africa in general. I read that electrical saws coming from Uganda have been provide to local in order to cut has many trees as possible in disregard of conservation laws.
With the increase appetite of the regional market,I'm afraid that conflicts in the region will be fuelled by non etatique entities.

Unknown said...

@Kongo in NYC

Typo: Sorry, I meant hyperbole and not hyperbola. I other words, the death penalty only for high-ranking politicians and army officers was a bit of a stretch just to emphasise (if I am not wrong) what the Christian bible says about: “to those more is given more shall be demanded”. Therefore I, in fact, agree with your observation that law should be applied universally irrespective.

I may have been too long but the point was that the fluidity and some factors that led to the current situation can explain some of JK’s actions/inactions. But now there is no more excuses for him and his government, they must deliver.

But I am extremely glad that you have seen that economic revival in Equateur Province. I have also noticed it in 2 or 3 other provinces. The rest of the world does not see that “real DRC” that is trying to stand up once again! The question for some of us apolitical fellows is: how do we decouple political-problems from economic reality in 90% of DRC, and so invite investors (local and foreign) to “indirectly” pull the country from this crisis?


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Pat said...


C’est le règne de la terreur! Pris en otage par des "terroristes" déguisés en hommes d’Etat, l’Etat congolais est incapable de garantir à chacun et à tous une égale protection devant loi et des conditions minimales de sécurité pour les personnes et les biens.

Voilà ce que La libre Belgique vient de publier dans un article daté 09 mai 2013 sous la signature de Marie-France Cros :

« Le 8 avril, le député Eugène Diomi Ndongala, président du parti Démocratie chrétienne, proche d’Etienne Tshisekedi et fer de lance de l’opposition à Kinshasa (c’est lui qui organisait les mouvements de protestation populaire pour "la vérité des urnes" et encore plus avant la « transparence du fichier électoral »), est arrêté sans mandat. Le 11, on apprend qu’il est accusé d’être à la tête d’un mouvement insurrectionnel, "Imperium", désireux d’attenter à la vie du président Kabila et du Premier ministre Matata. Le directeur de cabinet adjoint d’Etienne Tshisekedi est arrêté dans le même "complot". Des bouteilles en plastique et une machette ont été saisies comme "preuves" du complot. Le parti de Tshisekedi, l’UDPS, a dénoncé ce "montage" comme "ridicule", mais Eugène Diomi reste en prison, bien que la Cour suprême ait ordonné qu’il soit assigné à résidence. M. Diomi avait déjà été détenu trois mois au secret, de juin à octobre 2012. »

Pour la deuxième fois (après la première ordonnance de la CSJ datée 15/04/2013 assignant l’honorable Diomi Ndongala en résidence et la deuxième avec le même contenu du 03/05/2013) le Président Nationale de la DC et Porte-parole de la MPP, Majorité Présidentielle populaire, continue d’ être détenu arbitrairement et illégalement en prison à Kinshasa au CPRK à cause de la « rébellion avec récidive » du PGR Flory Kabange Numbi qui refuse d’exécuter matériellement la décision de la Haute Cour évacuant l’Honorable Diomi Ndongala de la prison où il est illégalement détenu pour le placer en résidence dans son domicile.

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