Monday, September 12, 2011

DRC Elections 2011 Watch: 1) Limited cabinet reshuffle; 2) 12 Presidential candidates; 3) Crisis flares up anew in MLC: MP Adam Bombole Intole and Sen. Bernardette Nkoy Mafuta as presidential candidates; and 4) Tshisekedi on yet another stint abroad

1) Limited cabinet reshuffle

Louis Alphonse Daniel Koyagialo Ngbase te Gerengbo
Powerful politician from Equateur Province
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Posts, Telephones and Telecommunications (PTT)

A limited cabinet reshuffle made by Joseph Kabila was announced on RTNC, the state-owned radio and television broadcast system, in the late evening hours of Sunday, September 11, the closing date of submissions to CENI of legislative and presidential candidacies. Joseph Kabila filed to run for president on Sunday. Kabila’s own minister of Decentralization Minister and ally, Antipas Mbusa Nyamwisi, who also filed to run for president, quit the cabinet.

This limited reshuffle, with the appointment of 4 new ministers, prompted equally limited musical chairs. This reshuffle, though precipitated by Nyamwisi’s presidential bid, was however long overdue. François-Joseph Nzanga Mobutu, a member of this government, was fired in March. The demotion of Nzanga Mobutu had triggered the resignation by solidarity of Bernard Biondo, Minister of External Trade, a member of Mobutu’s Union des Démocrates Mobutistes (UDEMO). Minister of Rural Development Philippe Undji had been fired and thrown in jail for embezzlement—though the prosecution’s case against him has since collapsed.

The Ministry of Decentralization, whose occupant Nyamwisi has quit to run for president, has been scrapped altogether. Other ministers have been moved around to accommodate the new influx. But Adolphe Muzito remains as Prime Minister. And Kinshasa media will soon refer to this reshuffle and this cabinet as Muzito III.

Two appointments have raised eyebrows: 1) Jean-Pierre Daruwezi, an Orientale Province native and chief spy since 2007 as head of the Agence Nationale de Renseignements (ANR); and 2) Louis Alphonse Daniel Koyagialo Ngbase te Gerengbo, who hails from the same area as Mobutu in the Equateur Province and former acting secretary general of Kabila’s political cartel, as Deputy Prime Minister—a tailor-made position, the cabinet having now three deputy prime ministers.

These appointments point to major reshuffles in Kabila’s election strategy in these two provinces. Daruwezi was planning to run for a Parliamentary seat in Kisangani. If Daruwezi has withdrawn his legislative bid, his appointment would mean that Kabila wants someone else to run for that seat and this ministerial post is offered as compensation. The appointment of Koyagialo makes sense as Kabila has vowed to win the late dictator Mobutu’s stronghold in the Equateur. And the renewed visibility of Koyagialo could help.

The 4 new ministers are the following:

a) Louis Alphonse Koyagialo Ngase te Gerengbo, former acting secretary general of Kabila’s political cartel, is appointed Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Posts, Telephones and Telecommunications (PTT);

b) Jean-Pierre Daruwezi  is the new Minister of Economy;

c) Justin Kalumba Mwana Ngongo is appointed Minister of External Trade; and

d) Charles Alulea Mengulwa, is now Minister Rural Development.

2) 12 Presidential candidates

Joseph Kabila aka Raïs, First Lady Olive Lembe aka Maman-Capable and kids 
At CENI headquarters
Kinshasa, Sunday, September 11, 2011
Photo: John Bompengo/Radio Okapi

With the near stampede at CENI offices on Sunday, the number of presidential candidates now stands at 12. There’s a woman among these candidates: MLC Senator Bernardette Nkoy Mafuta, who’s running as an independent. In the first round of 2006 presidential election, there were 32 presidential candidates, many of whom ran in order to make deals with first round’s front runners.

Here are the 12 presidential candidates:

   1. Jean Andeka Djamba (ANCC)
    2. Etienne Tshisekedi    (UDPS)
    3. François Joseph Nzanga Mobutu (Udémo)
    4. Vital Kamerhe    (UNC)
    5. Kengo wa dondo (UFC)
    6. Nicéphore Kakese (URDC)
    7. Joseph Kabila (Independent, PPRD and MP)
    8. Oscar Kashala (UREC)
    9. Antipas Mbusa Nyamwisi (RCD-K/ML)
    10. Adam Bombole (Independent, MLC)
    11. Bernardette NKoy Mafuta (Independent, MLC)
    12. Ismaël Kitenge  (MRC-PTF)

3) Crisis flares up anew in MLC: MP Adam Bombole Intole and Sen. Bernardette Nkoy Mafuta as presidential candidates

MP Adam Bombole (MLC)
Former Customs Agent, Millionaire Playboy and Jean-Pierre Bemba’s confidant and "babysitter"
Independent Presidential Candidate
Photo: John Bompengo/Radio Okapi

The most incredible event of the weekend was the presidential candidacies as independents of MLC stalwarts MP Adam Bombole Intole and Senator Bernardette Nkoy Mafuta.

MP Bombole, 53, a former customs agent, is a flashy Kinois millionaire who owns “SARL Kinoises,” and, until his marriage last year, was also a celebrated playboy whose display of self-serving generosity is sung by soukouss musicians.

The candidacy of MP Bombole triggered an outrage within the leadership of the MLC. Party’s spokesperson and member of founders’ caucus Germain Kambinga told the press that he was opposed to Bombole’s candidacy in any shape or form, and that it didn’t engage the MLC. This signals an implosion of the MLC.

People close to MP Bombole claim however that Jean-Pierre Bemba gave him the go-ahead from his jail cell at the Scheveningen Prison complex at The Hague. If this is true, then Bemba is repeating his mentor Mobutu’s infamous adage: “After me, the deluge,” for there isn’t the slightest chance that MP Bombole would even replicate Bemba’s 2006 feat of crushing Kabila in MLC’s former stronghold of Kinshasa.

If anything, the defeat of MP Bombole in his 2007 bid for Kinshasa governorship could serve as an indication of how his presidential run will pan out.

This is what happened…

MP Bombole had just been elected a Member of Parliament of Kinshasa on MLC list in the Kinshasa Lukunga constituency in the 2006 legislative elections. His close friend Jean-Pierre Bemba, just elected national senator by the Kinshasa provincial assembly after his failed presidential bid, wanted to transform the Congolese capital into a veritable anti-Kabila bastion by having an MLC member as governor.

And on paper, Bombole’s prospects were looking very bright: 22 provincial assemblymen in the total 48 members were MLC members —“very close to an absolute majority,” as the press duly noted at the time. And facing the formidable challenge of MLC in this gubernatorial election was the apparently doomed Kabila’s ticket: André Kimbuta Yango (PPRD) and Bafiba Zomba (PALU) as lieutenant-governor candidate.

When votes were counted on the day of the election—January 27, 2007—André Kimbuta had however soundly defeated Adam Bombole, who, along with his friend Bemba, accused Kabila of bribing MLC provincial assemblymen to vote against their own candidate.

But at the root of MP Bombole’s defeat was a miscalculation akin to Kabila’s own misreading of the Senate in attempting to impose his candidate Léonard She Okitundu as Senate President against Kengo, who won that election, with Kabila’s own senators voting for the opposition candidate.

What MP Bombole and Sen. Jean-Pierre Bemba failed to see was the following. Politicians belonging to the ethnic groups from Bandundu, Bas-Congo, and the Bateke (the traditional settlers of Kinshasa), who make up 80% of the population of the Congolese capital, had longtime ago decided that Kinshasa governorship belonged to them—in the new decentralized “geopolitical” arrangement of the Third Republic (the First and Second republics being, respectively, the administrations of Joseph Kasa-Vubu and Mobutu + Laurent Kabila + Joseph Kabila-prior to democracy).

MP Bombole, though a “Kinois,” hails from the Equateur Province. If it’s true that the MLC gubernatorial ticket included a politician from Bandundu, Fidèle Babala, the latter was considered as a mere “factotum,” in his capacity as chief of staff of Vice-President Bemba in the transitional government and a member of MLC. These Kinois politicians saw as an insult the ploy of using a stooge to win their votes. Hence, MP Bombole’s “scandalous” defeat.

This time around, the presidential candidacy of MP Bombole is universally mocked across the country. The man is himself considered as Bemba’s “stooge” and “babysitter”—spending much of his time on visits to his pal at Scheveningen Prison…

MLC appears more and more as an out-of-control ship drifting in stormy seas.

4) Tshisekedi on yet another stint abroad

People are stunned and mystified at hearing news of a yet another trip abroad being taken by UDPS Etienne Tshisekedi. Kinshasa media report today that having flown from N’Djili International Airport on Friday evening, Tshisekedi arrived at Brussels Zaventem Airport in the morning of Saturday. Upon deplaning, Tshisekedi was whisked by Belgian secret service agents to his hotel, thus preventing him from mingling with the crowds of his UDPS supporters and Bana-Congo radicals. It’s speculated that the Belgian authorities wanted to prevent Tshisekedi from importing Kinshasa political violence on their territory.

UDPS insiders say that Tshisekedi, after meeting Belgian officials, will head to Paris and Washington to voice his concerns over the organization of elections. On his way back to the DRC, Tshisekedi will first go to Kisangani, before embarking on a tour of eastern provinces.


Anonymous said...

Hi Alex:

Check out this concept of a Congo state:

Basically, if Palestinians have their “arc”, the Congolese should have their Tilapia.

Pal Arc:

Named after their favored fish, it is essentially the infrastructural backbone of a more functioning state- shaped as a fish.

It hews to the basic features of the state now- the Congo River system, the locations of populations centered in Katanga, Kasai, and the East and finally takes into account the need to preserve the central equatorial forests of the Congo- but makes it more efficient.

Like the Arc, the major form of transportation for the backbone would be rail. It would have key nodes, or hubs, at the major cities listed in the doc primarily because civilization requires water and good soils and these cities have nearly infinite amounts of both.

This basic infrastructure could then be built out to weave in electricity lines from Inga, fiber optic lines for the internet, and a road network following this backbone. For the east, a major hub would be Uvira whereby goods and people from the east could be sent to Dar Es Salaam- via Burundi. It would also facilitate trade for Burundi and Tanzania and Malawi via the rail, roads, and ports.

Also, by maintaining the Tilapia, it could assist the state in service delivery for it would incentivize the people to live near it to gain employment opportunities, better housing that spouts up within and between hubs, education, healthcare etc for right now the state and its expanse and dispersed population makes this so hard which, ofcourse, makes the state non-existent for so many. If everyone lived on or near the arc its less costly to service them and more efficient.

So as to connect to other countries, the backbone would simply have highways flowing into it at key points to further facilitate trade and interlock the region.

This basic idea then is that the Congolese would, forever, make their lives in the major cities on the arc and close to them. Finally, having a basic plan like this would force the state to plan infrastructure growth more efficiently- which means less costs and a quicker realization of the plan and the economic benefits its would bring. If the plan was sold as a plan to the people, it would also encourage them to help build it via volunteering and message the idea that life on the Tilapia is where its at.

From what I can find, there is no master plan for the State. Yes, there are vague plans but no overall GRID for how it should look, where development should be centered, etc. As a result, what plans do exist are haphazard and not thought through- alot of “building a bridge to nowhere” going on in the Congo. A state needs to be more than institutions. It needs also to be a functioning, sustainable, grid that moves- in an efficient manner- people, goods, security forces,and services in the most efficient way possible that respects the land, where people are already habitating, and connects population centers to one another to boost the economy. Rail would be key here and then trunk roads/highways to the major hubs and utilizing the artery that is the Congo River.

What do you think?


ps. I am working on my master’s in state planning at U of Chicago so this will be my thesis. Animations coming! This is just a sketch.

Anonymous said...

Exceptionally informative post, Alex.

Honestly, all this intrigue and shuffling of the cards is just so medieval. Actually, it is a clear example that the “sun city” system and current constitution simply leads to this amorous jockeying of position.

At the root of this is the Congo’s odd and absolutely unstable neo-parliamentary/presidential system. How can Kabila have the power to shift ministers of state when he has a Prime Minister? How can you have a portfolio that is, in essence, a bribe for consolidating his power? Where is the role of the Assembly in all this? And perhaps most damning of all, why is the Congolese press and intellectual class more interested in reporting this intrigue instead of questioning how these constant changes actually help the people?

In order to effectively dry up this pig pen there must be competition between the branches of government. So, this means either a parliamentary system or a presidential because both clearly isn’t working in the interest of the Congolese nor their fragile democracy.

There are no checks, at all, in this system. This entire system breeds this horrific blend of patronage, graft, and instability that it is no wonder the Congolese rebel against it- whether by the gun or the bribe.

This is just appalling, Alex. It is just appalling and there is no excuse for it at all. Blaming the West, or Kigali, or whatever is too easy to do when so much of this vapid elite engage in all this corrupt, palace intrigue. It is no wonder groups like Enough or so rabid in the conflict mineral position. I have always believed that there position is deeply strategic whose goal is to do whatever it takes to tie the hands of this government by strangling its ability to sell minerals on the open market and thus imperiling the regime.

This is unreal. Like Rick Perry unreal.

Sometime real soon their needs to be deep, deep, DEEP structural change in the political system in the Congo.

I mean REAL DEEP. And it would be nice, Alex, if you go beyond simply reporting this BS and begin engaging folks on how to fix all this crap. We know you are capable of it.

@Clay. I like it. But, as I have just elaborated, the backbone of a state requires a political elite that is skilled and determined to put it together/manage it and, with this one atleast, I just don’t think they have the vision and edge to achieve it given these foolish games. But its good and visionary. Looking forward to the animations.


Anonymous said...

Wow, very cool Clay.

Just imagine the possibilities. A coffee farmer in Lubero wouldn’t have to settle for just buyers in Goma but 9 cities open up for her- expanding production and her income. A maize or cassava farmer in Kikwit or a cattle breeder in Isiro could do the same. An importer in Kinsasha would have the same access, in addition to CAR, Burundi, Zambia, and Malawi and could hire a ton of unemployed youth to help drive all these new sales. Families throughout the country could take a trip to Goma, or Bukavu, to swim in the lake opening up tourism and with it jobs and income. Agricultural investors from arid or highly populated countries could build big farms to drive exports to the region and the world. A student in Gemena could save the money from seeking a college degree in Kinshasa and instead seek out universities in Kisangani or Goma or Butembo for a better bargain. A manufacturer from Kenya, or China, could choose any hub city here given its access to rail and electricity and water further expanding opportunity and investment. I notice this new, unnamed city between Kisangani and the east. Well, assuming things calm down, that could be somewhere in between Wakilale or Lubutu which could grew into a new capital for the Congo.

In the process of it all, the Congolese- and their neighbors- are knitted together in this Tilapia thereby deepening peace.

I like it alot, Clay.

So you know, I am the great grandnewphew of Atlanta mayor William Hartsfield. My great unc was a visionary. He knew that if he could lobby the Feds, and lobby them hard, to get a strategically placed airport from then rival Birmingham the South would have its first major international city. A “port” for an inland city in the heart of the South. And you know what? He succeeded, and made sure during the troubles of the civil rights movement that its business leaders did the right thing. Today, the shine, sophistication, and wealth of Atlanta and its large and vibrant black middle class is almost entirely based on having the world’s busiest airport within its bounds.

Good luck on this and please do keep us posted!

@Mel- agreed. Where are the Goodluck Jonathan’s in the Congo?


ps. Since folks showed their “Whitney” the other day, here is her fantastic performance in South Africa- Mandiba in audience- of her big, big classic “I will always love you”. For newly enfranchised, SAfricans, she must have seemed like a goddess on that stage.

Alex Engwete said...


Oh boy!... You had an out-of-body experience to come up with this concept. Walter Benjamin would have called it an “illumination.” This is just phenomenal. And thanks for having me discover the other equally visionary RAND “arc” concept for Palestine. I can’t wait to see the animation you’re making for this project. And I’d be happy to host your short presentation on this blog—which I’d then translate for my French blogs. Additionally, I’d advise you show this at some point to Dr. Faida Mitifu, the DRC ambassador in DC. She’s outgoing and did her doctoral work in the US. It’d be better you do so in person, if you happen to be in DC. Hell, just write something short with the animation, I'll attempt and see the ambassador myself! Don’t buy into Congo-pessimism… You just don’t give up on an entire nation because of its passing politics. Kudos for this project, man. And keep the fires up. And sail through your PhD before going to the Congo—you belong there!

As Frank just suggested, your “New City” could be like Abuja—or Brasilia. And I know what to call it—and place that name on your animation: Lumumbaville!

BTW, Clay, are you from Texas?

Alex Engwete said...


Thanks for the comment as always. I just wanted to correct one misconception you have about the Congolese. Not one single Congolese I personally know has ever blamed Rwanda. Instead, the universal leitmotiv of the Congolese to Rwanda is the following: leave us alone! We didn’t go plunder Rwanda or kill people there in the millions. They did it to us. That’s why despite all the gimmicks of the current government to “normalize” relations with Rwanda, the Congolese would wish to have a wall built along that border, as Papa Wemba, a Congolese musician, once suggested. Israel did it after all, and we’re not living in the Middle Ages… But the Congolese don’t conflate this rejection of Rwanda with the Rwandan people. It’s strictly circumscribed to the current government in Kigali, which has never taken responsibility for what it did in the Congo. Whenever I go to Nairobi, for example, all the buddies I go out with to share a beer at “The Gypsy’s Bar” in the neighborhood of Westlands are Rwandans—and Tutsis, for that matter. The limo service I often use in Nairobi belongs to a Rwandan Tutsi young entrepreneur called Aimable.

If I said that Kabila did the reshuffle, don’t take my word for it. I’m speculating. I might assign to politicians or make assumptions on the way the system works… but this doesn’t me it’s necessarily how things are…

This being said, what kind of system do you advise the Congo have? I once read one article by Fareed Zakaria( an article later on turned into a book) titled “The Rise of Illiberal Democracy,” whose arguments are somehow similar to yours. I’ll just quote the end of the summary of the article published in Foreign Affairs in 1997 (I’m quoting from the website): “The international community and the United States must end their obsession with balloting and promote the gradual liberalization of [third world] societies.”

Does this mean that Africa need to revert to systems like enlightened despotism as in Rwanda you so much admire? I don't even see any "liberalization" of the society taking place in Rwanda... Well, it won’t work in the Congo, and Congolese have developed an autoimmune rejections of the dictatorship à la Mobutu imposed upon us—yeah, I’m not shying away from placing blame where it belongs—by “the international community and the United States.”

Check and balances are written into the Congolese constitution, and the system will one day see the light of day—slowly but certainly. You can blame the system, but I don’t see in the US system any improvement over the ideal Congolese system (as written in the constitution, that is; and the best constitution in my view is the South African constitution). There’s permanent gridlock for instance. And in this country you got political dingbats, like tea-partiers, being taken seriously by normal people in the press who don’t go “beyond simply reporting this BS.” Even CNN hosted a Tea-Party Republican Presidential Debate last night. Unbelievable! I’ve been watching these debates out of morbid curiosity. Oh, man… Presidential candidates who believe that evolution and global warming caused by human activity are on a par with the myth of the tooth fairy? And not one journalist who tells the American people that this bunch are batshit crazy? I know, you have often blasted my easy analogies as “cute” but wrong, but think about it for a moment. I might be onto something true this time, Mel…

Anonymous said...

Reshuffle, reshuffle...there isn't reshuffle here, it's just Kabila's unleashing his dogs out!

Nothing to say about JP Daruwezi, the former chief of ANR, a repression machinery that he perfects the methods. I just wonder how this gay can sleep at night.

Koyagialo, the former governor of Katanga, the man of May 11, 1990. The Student Massacre of Lubumbashi. I remember him been sentenced for 15 years or so for his part in that crime then!

Strange might sound,his own brother was well known as a hitman in Kinshasa before to be sentenced to death just months apart to each others convictions.

So the portfolios they just inherited before the election might be for cover-up of a mission more sinister!

The Kinois

Alex Engwete said...


Don't give me the heebie-jeebies like that, man... :-)

Hmm! How come you forgot to add to that list the Terminator aka Prophetator in Paris?

Ash S said...

Dude, I think Louis XV might have got in there just before Mobutu with the 'Apres moi le deluge' quote. Although arguably Mobutu did a better job of ensuring that we are still underwater today!