JOSEPH KABILA'S "VISION FOR A NEW AND BETTER DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO"
Joseph Kabila is the man most likely to become the Democratic Republic of Congo’s first democratically elected leader following the forthcoming general elections, the first ever in 45 years in the vast country situated in the heart of Africa since the assassination of Patrice Lumumba, (the only elected leader since Congo gained independence from Belgium on 30.06.1960. But who is the true Joseph Kabila? What is his vision for a new and better Democratic Republic of Congo? Whatever his supporters and his detractors say of him, Joseph Kabila remains “the son of a freedom fighter”, the son of Mzee Laurent Désiré Kabila.
By Antoine Roger Lokongo, François Soudan and Wilson Omalanga.
Discreet, even mysterious, this Head of State aged just 35, is nonetheless firmly leading the Democratic Republic of Congo
That is the impression his compatriots had of him when he came to power on 26 January 2001, following the assassination of his father Laurent Désiré Kabila. Five and half years later, whereas he is preparing himself to launch his campaign for the “historic” general elections of the 30 July, is the “visibility” of the youngest Head of State in power in Africa still better? The main axis of the propaganda developed against him by his adversaries revolves around his nationality, his filiation – both described as “doubtful”, even “foreign” – and even around his own existence: that Joseph Kabila is neither Joseph Kabila nor Congolese! The person concerned, it must be recognised, does not moreover do much in order to dissipate the halo of fog that surrounds him – a bit as if he were neither interested nor concerned by those subordinate issues, and added to it, the heavy unhealthy campaign of intimidation on the poisoned theme of “congolity”.
Joseph Kabila Kabange (Kabange means the youngest twin in Balubakat), gives away himself very little, listen more than he speaks, suggest more than imposing himself. For Congolese, used to be led by autocratic and overwhelming personalities in the last four decades, the difference is considerable. Nothing to do with Mobutu and not totally to do with Kabila father. Between Laurent-Désiré and Joseph, there are very few things in common, some say, so much so that the latter’s detractors see this as one of the “proofs” that he is not what he says he is: his father’s son. But, however seducing this thesis might be among a fraction of the Congolese population; however “useful” it might be in the eyes of politicians who have made a “political bait to trade on” out of it, such rhetoric on the origins of Joseph Kabila is nonetheless profoundly perverse. Perverse for two essential reasons: in the absence of a well run civil state, such types of insinuations are both aimless and can be applied to each and all (or almost). And the many precise details we have gathered on the birth and the youth of Joseph Kabila can only lead to the endorsement of the official version: the Congolese President is rightly the son of Laurent Désiré Kabila and Maman Sifa Mahanya.
So, he is the son of his father. And what father! Expansive personality, colourful, booming and charismatic…
Laurent Désiré Kabila was born in 1939 in Likasi, Katanga Province. A nationalist close to Patrice Lumumba, he launched a rebellion after the assassination of the latter, first as a co-organiser of the revolt of the Simbas, beside Gaston Soumialot, then, from 1967, headed his own maquis. Establishing himself in the east, itinerant between Katanga, Maniema et the two Kivus, this collectivist maquis and close to the maoist ideals then very widespread strongly in fashion, knew various fortunes during 15 years. Kabila there reigned as an absolute ruler with a unique objective: to survive. From the sale of gold and ivories to raids against localities controlled by Mobutu’s forces (notably the town of Moba, which Kabila twice occupied for some hours in the 1970s), everything is good to take to make noise about oneself and to protect this microsociety entirely devoted to its chief that the “Parti Révolutionaire du Peuple” (PRP) was. Many things have been said about Laurent Désiré Kabila during that period which were not flattering, including by the Cuban Ernest Che Guevara. But one thing is sure: despite all the efforts Mobutu deployed to finish him, wielding alternatively both a stick and a carrot, Mobutu never managed or succeeded to bribe, to return or to liquidate Kabila. A case of an extremely rare figure, upon which, later on, the bedrock of Laurent Désiré Kabila’s legitimacy was constituted or built.
It was in this difficult, dangerous and moving and shifting environment, that on 4 June 1971, Joseph Kabila was born. The PRP’s maquis was then established in Hewa Bora II, district of Lulenge, in the territory of Fizi-Baraka, South Kivu Province. Joseph and his twin sister Jeanette (more known by her anglophone first name of Jaynet) belong to the community of the Baluba of North Katanga on the side of their father and that of Bangu Bangu, on the side of their mother. The latter, Sifa Mahanya, was a young militant who knew Laurent Désiré Kabila in the maquis, not far away from her native locality of Kasingere. Put in charge of the organisation of women within the PRP, she also magistrated in the people’s courts.
In 1976, in the face of intense pressures inflicted by Mobutu’s army “Les Forces Armées Zaïroises (FAZ), the family had to run away from Hewa Bora to Wimbi, in the shores of the Lake Tanganyika. Two years later, a new move out, this time to Kigoma, in Tanzania.
The PRP maquis does not practically exist anymore, et it is from this neighbouring country that Kabila is compelled to pursue his fight and struggle. Joseph and Jaynet, who, up to then, have only attended the school set up by the party in the bush, are enrolled under borrowed names (Kabange, then Kanambe) in the French college of Dar es-Salam. Times are hard for the Kabilas in the 1980s. To pay the fees for the schooling of the twins, Maman Sifa grows vegetables in a patch of land, which she sells in the market. She subsequently opens a boutique. The father is usually absent, launching commando raids from the Tanzanian territory, which are, for most of the time unsuccessful. Some PRP leaders, whom the world would hear of only later, such as Yerodia Abdoulaye Ndombasi et Didier Kazadi Nyembwe – close to the then Tanzanian President Julius Nyerere – looked after the children.
In Dar Es-Salam, the Zaïrean embassy is ever active. Mobutu’s secret police agents track down militants. The PRP’s N02, Gabriel Yumbu is kidnapped in full day light, on the street and secretly extradited to Kinshasa, where nobody could trace him anymore: disappeared for good. Joseph, Jaynet and their six brothers and sisters are passing their not so golden youth between studies at the French High School and doing small menial jobs.
Towards the end of the 1980s, Joseph did one year of military service within the Tanzanian army, in the Mbeya camp, then got involved in his father’s commercial and economic activities (buying and selling fish) on the Lake Tanganyika. Perfectly English speaking, he enrolled himself at the University of Makerere, in Uganda, together with Jaynet, his twin sister. Joseph in the Law faculty and Jaynet in communication. Joseph never stayed long at Makerere to finish his studies, contrary to Jaynet who pursued her studies in Windhoek, in Namibia, where she obtained a diploma in journalism.
Even though Joseph Kabila tried to resume his studies by correspondence later on, from Washington International University (he has a BA in International Relations), the fact that those studies were interrupted so often is brandished by his adversaries as proof to illustrate his pseudo amateurism. In a country, where people readily believe that a diploma carries the key of success in life, cultivating a certain fetishism around it, such an argument is not to be neglected. In reality, the Congolese president’s intellectual baggage is higher than those of all his pairs in the region. He is moreover the only one in the region who is totally bilingual, speaking French and English fluently and one of the rare presidents who masters data processing, Information Technology and computer science (techniques) so well. If Joseph Kabila quit his law studies in 1996, it was because his father called him to stay by him. He was 25 then and the 1994 Rwandan genocide had shaken the whole geopolitical environment in the Great Lakes region. Hundreds of thousands of Hutu refugees escaping the advance of Paul Kagame’s troops settled in camps over the Zaïrean border, where they were organising themselves to retake power in Kigali. Backed by President Yoweri Muveseni who was dreaming to see himself as another “Bismarck” of Central Africa [he himself is in fact backed by Britain and America], Kagame decided to enter into Zaïre in order to destroy those hotbeds of re-conquest.
But both Museveni and Kagame [as well as the Americans] needed a Congolese supporter or cavalier [to mask] their endeavour in Zaïre: This Congolese was Laurent Désiré Kabila. But Kabila was not simply a cavalier or a protégé of Museveni and Kagame. Kabila was always there in the fight against Mobutu. As it was pointed earlier on, despite all the efforts Mobutu deployed to finish him, wielding alternatively both a stick and a carrot, Mobutu never managed or succeeded to bribe, to return or to liquidate Kabila. A case of an extremely rare figure, upon which, later on, the bedrock of Laurent Désiré Kabila’s legitimacy was constituted or built.
Laurent Désiré Kabila played smart. He saw an advantage to his struggle in this kind of situation. He was quick to take advantage of the opportunity and acted out of self-interest for his struggle. He hoped to take advantage of this incursion and force the hand of his “protectors”, persuade them that he is “their man”, flatter their ambition and push them to carry him up to the end, that is to say, to Kinshasa to overthrow Mobutu.
When Laurent Désiré Kabila made his first media appearance in October 1996, in order to announce the creation in Lemera, in South Kivu of the Alliance of Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Congo (ADFL), Joseph was already beside a man to whom he would later owe a big part of his military training – even though they ended up being separated by the vicissitudes of history – James Kabarebe, the chief of staff of the Rwandan expeditionary regiment in Congo-Zaïre.
By thus “offering” his son to his allies, Kabila killed three birds with one stone: (1)He gave them assurance and proof of his sincerity, loyalty and fidelity, (2) he hardened the one (Joseph) whom he would later appoint as his chief of staff and (3) and enabled the young man (Joseph) to forge a legitimacy for himself on the ground.
In the shadow of his mentor and at the head of the “Kadogos” (youngsters, child soldiers) of the ADFL whom the Rwandan, Ougandan, Angolans and Zimbabweans military contingents were backing, Joseph Kabila was the fore front of all the decisive battles that punctuated a six-month-long victorious military offensive. Present during the fall of Lubumbashi, he thus participated, in March 1997, in the capture of the strategic city of Kisangani, defended by an heterogeneous coalition of Zaïrean soldiers, Hutu militia and European mercenaries (whose clout was demystified)… And he was one of the first ADFL leader to enter Kinshasa, on 17 May 1997 of the same year. What first was an outflanking of the Rwandan tragedy on the Zairean soil has become a major earthquake.
Joseph Kabila is less vocal or fluent about this period of his life. It is only known that he was a powerless witness, very much shocked about the “cleansing” of Hutu refugee camps and the horrors of war.
And what’s the worst thing he has ever seen with his own eyes?
“When you see a scene of a village after a massacre… that’s a very bad thing. It will always haunt you; you will always have that image with you for a very, very, very long time to come, if not forever.”
Discreet, secretive, the young Kabila is then a perfectly unknown quantity for Congolese. It is true that as an expert in media manipulation – Laurent Désiré Kabila had the habit of announcing on CNN and on the BBC, during the war, the name of the next towns to be “liberated” in order to trigger off panic and desertions among their defenders – when it comes to that the father occupies the place, the whole place.
During more than a year, what is henceforth called the Democratic Republic of Congo is similar to a Rwandan-Ugandan protectorate. Proof: the chief of staff of the new Congolese army is none other than James Kabarebe, and the Tutsi of Rwandan origin living in Congo are present at every echelons of the state apparatus. Whereas Joseph is cleverly pursuing his apprenticeship beside James Kabarebe, Laurent Désiré Kabila is champing at the bit, pushed at it by the population of Kinshasa who cannot support the omnivisibility and omnipresence of Rwandan troops. On 27 July 1998, the “Commandant James” is abruptly fired (after a coup attempt) and Kabila father announces the end of the military cooperation with his protectors of yesterday. During six months, Joseph Kabila is in China, where he is studying at the Peking Military Academy. Once more, his father calls him back urgently, obliging him to interrupt his studies. The second war of Congo has just began.
Joseph Kabila had hardly arrived in Kinshasa when he is appointed as Chief of Staff in replacement of General Kifwa. Times are serious. Beyond himself, the dismissed Rwandan General attempts an audacious, madly and terrorist raid. He flies himself by an aerial bridge (after hijacking a Congolese airplane) with his troops from Goma, in the extreme east of Congo up to the Kitona airport, in the extreme west and march on Kinshasa where the units still loyal to him revolt (the whole operation is supervised by US marines after the USA have fallen out with Kabila father who refused to sell his country for a song to them).
On 2.08.1998, they seize the Inga hydroelectric dam and attempt to surround Kinshasa, a capital now plunged into obscurity. In the face of his ex-mentor, Joseph Kabila organises the resistance around the Ndjili international airport, the key of the Kinshasa defense system.
Laurent Désiré Kabila calls upon new allies: Angolans, Zimbabweans, Namibians even Chadians who repulse the invaders from Kinshasa.
In town, Tutsi civilians previously armed by their own joined in the fray, sure that Kinshasa was going to fall into the hands of the Tutsi.
After three days and three nights of fierce fighting, Kabarebe disengages his troops. Before the arrival of allies’troops, Joseph and the principal members of the staff of the “Forces Armées Congolaises” – Generals Lwetsua, Kalume, Munene, Numbi, Etumba et Kabulo, present beside him – have demonstrated that the pupil could do as better as the master.
In Kinshasa itself, anti-Tutsi sentiment grows, calls to resistance by government ministers, including Abdoulaye Yerodia Ndombsi and Didier Mumengi are followed by the people who bearhandedly track down the invaders and burn some alive. Many Tutsi who were seen with arms were lynched. According to reliable sources, Joseph Kabila, following the request of the Catholic Church, organises the rescue of many Tutsi families from the mob and protects them in safe areas. Kinshasa is no longer on harm’s way but the war continues in the east. On 22.08.1998 Kisangani is captured by Rwandan and Ugandan troops guiding rebel forces constituted of Tutsi of Rwandan origin living in Congo. A long and devastating war ensues in which 5 millions Congolese loose their lives, Congo’s natural and mineral resources systematically looted by the invaders.
Joseph Kabila is almost on all fronts. In Mbandaka, Equateur province; in Mbuji-Mayi and Kabinda in Kasaï; in the stronghold of Pweto, Katanga Province. It is in Pweto that he is nearly captured or killed by Tutsi Rwandan troops of occupation. Surrounded, he manages to escape to Lubumbashi and there is no news about him for two days. In Kinshasa, his father throws a rare tantrum mixed with anxiety.
Joseph is Laurent Désiré Kabila’s preferred son. Son and father shared a lot and were fond of each other. But at times they disagreed. It was not always smooth. Concerning the Pweto incident, Joseph points out to his father that there was lack of due preparation before ordering the offensive from there whereas the father talks about betrayal of the part of some army generals. The Mzee (the wise old man) had an expansive personality, colourful, booming and charismatic. His detractors described him as authoritarian, provocateur, excessive and autocratic whose patriotism went hand in hand with archaic and anti-western foreign policies. But Mzee wanted Congo to be in charge of its own destiny. He rebuilt the chattered country without any cent from the outside world. They contrast him with his son whom they say is not of that generation; that he has never been a Marxist like his father, they say, let alone a Maoist. Joseph Kabila, they say, adores new technologies, speed and has cultivated a little hobby of being trendy and always dressing smart. If Che Guevara is a figure that fascinates him, it is mainly the heroic aspect of Che’s personality and his sense of total sacrifice for others and total commitment to a cause. Brief, Joseph Kabila is everything but dogmatic. Since 1998, Joseph Kabila to whom all pretty girls in Kinshasa fancied, now is married to Olive Lembe di-Sita, a discreet young woman whose father (a mining engineer) is originally from Bas-Congo province; and whose mother is a native of Kindu now settled in Belgium. Joseph Kabila and Olive Lembe di-Sita live together and have a daughter, Sifa, named after Joseph’s mother.
But Joseph Kabila abhors comparisons between him and his father and begins most of his speeches by paying homage to Patrice Lumumba and his father Laurent Désiré Kabila, Congo’s national heroes albeit their limitations, which everybody has. As it was pointed earlier on, despite all the efforts Mobutu deployed to finish him, wielding alternatively both a stick and a carrot, Mobutu never managed or succeeded to bribe, to return or to liquidate Kabila. A case of an extremely rare figure, upon which, later on, the bedrock of Laurent Désiré Kabila’s legitimacy was constituted or built.
The course of history abruptly changed on 16.01.2001, when Laurent Désiré Kabila was assassinated in his office by one of his bodyguards, the Kadogo (child soldier) Rachidi Minzele Kasereka. The latter was shot dead shortly afterwards by Eddy Kapend, Laurent Désiré Kabila’s aide de camp who immediately went to the national television to auto-proclaim himself as the “man in charge”. That is according to the official version. Up to now, the exact outlines of the plot which led to the murder of “the Mzee” remain vague, as Laurent Désiré Kabila was at the centre of a permanent and multiform conspiracy. It is only known that the assassin, a native of Kivu, was close to Commandant Anselme Masasu Nindaga, one of the four co-founders of the ADFL, who was killed in the frontline in Katanga, some say shot on the squad on the orders of Laurent Désiré Kabila at the end of November 2000 for plotting against the regime. Another co-founder of the ADFL, Kisase Ngandu also “disappeared” in obscure circumstances in January 1997. His staunch nationalism put off Rwandans and Ugandans right at the beginning of the ADFL rebellion against the Mobutu regime.
When news of the assassination of his father reach him, Joseph Kabila is in Likasi, in Katanga, on a tour of inspection of the troops. In Kinshasa, Kapend has proclaimed a cease-fire, ordered the stationning of the troops and has forbidden the landing of any aircraft at the Ndjili international airport; whereas in the Marble Palace, Kabila’s most trusted faithful lieutenants (Yerodia Abdoulaye Ndombasi, Victor Mpoyo, Mwenze Kongolo, General Sylvester Lwetshua, General Munene…), announced that the President had been shot, is in a critical condition and has been flown to the hospital in Harare, Zimbabwe. They pretended to give the true and genuine latest indications in order to re-assure the country and the people in shock and panic because they did not know what was going on and what was going to happen.
General Sylvester Lwetsua, then Chief of Staff, requisitioned a plane in the middle of the night and had Joseph Kabila flown in to Kinshasa international airport despite Kapend’s orders in order to participate in the crisis meeting which was going to decide his fate. In the eyes of the guardians of the temple, Joseph Kabila, a young man of 29 whom they proposed to be the successor of to his father was the best possible guarantee to continue the Mzee’s work. Critics say the guardians of the temple did this also in order to safeguard their future, perhaps everybody was, in reality, hoping to manipulate this timid and taciturn (silent) “young boy”. It was not too long before people became disillusioned.
“I was surprised by that decision”, Joseph confided later on, “but I did not have time, neither to hesitate nor to ask myself questions. I took it as a personal challenge”.
On the 18.01.2001, when Laurent Désiré Kabila’s death had finally been officially announced, The Tunisian Kamel Morjane, UN Secretary General Kofi Annan’s special envoy, was the first foreign visitor to be received by the new president. One thing immediately struck him, as would Jacques Chirac, George W. Bush and some others shortly after: Joseph Kabila knows how to inspire a desire of protection from his elders, appears older than he is, and, above all, knows how to determine his goals.
"That is without any doubt my main virtue,” he says. “To know what you want, to provide oneself with means. Never deviate. Go, continue till the end.”
Five years on, and after so many hazards, risks and uncertainties, a peace accord – fragile – with his adversaries, two or three plots foiled and the courage to keep some former cronies of his father’s entourage away from the inner circle of power… in all this, determination is always at play and in place. What Joseph Kabila does in various domains, he does not drum it up. His silence and little touches speak for themselves , often taking the opposite view of Laurent Désiré Kabila while keeping the essential: his nationalism. He knows that his some 63 million compatriots are painfully aware of their powerlessness to be masters of their own destiny and that the exaltation of the great figures of the past as well as the mythologisation of their nation’s despoiled natural and mineral resources is a speech that bites.
Wise, Joseph Kabila has therefore multiplied gestures in this sense: a mausoleum for Joseph Kasavubu, the first president of Congo, a monument to the glory of Patrice Lumumba and a formal, official green light given to Mobutu’s sons and daughters to repatriate their father remains – for national funeral. By the way, you can see that it is moreover not on this theme that his rivals attack him, but on the one surrounding his pseudo-“congolity”. For lack of programme and without being afraid of contradicting themselves! After denouncing his monarchical drift during his accession to power, the same rivals, in fact, question his filiation. Another reproach against Joseph Kabila is the fact that he does not speak Lingala well and fluently, Lingala being the vernacular language spoken in the north and the west of the country and by the majority in Kinshasa - while Swahili, which he speaks since his childhood, is the most widespread idiom in Congo, and in reality, rare are the Congolese who can really master these two national languages at the same time. Behind this debate so unhealthy as well as demagogic is hidden, it can be seen, a profound cultural split between the West and the East, which must be shaken off and which remains one of the challenges of the Congo of tomorrow.
Joseph Kabila adores new technologies and dreams of making of Congo the new China of Africa
Joseph Kabila is rarely inclined, unlike Mobutu, to the cult of personality. “I know my face,” he says. “I am not interested in seeing the reflection of it elsewhere, except in my mirror”.
Evidently, Joseph Kabila does not govern alone. His mother, Sifa Mahanya, who runs a NGO for women in Kinshasa, his sister Jaynet, his wife Olive, his younger brother Joël (Zoé) – they resemble like two drops of water – who has borrowed a playstation from him and he will never return it for sure (the playstation helped him relax his mind in the evening)… form a family circle knit together, and in the case of Maman Sifa, very influential. Yerodia Abdoulaye Ndombasi, his father’s faithful companion in the struggle (now one of the four vice-presidents) is also very close to “his son”.
A group of very politically-minded presidential advisers are always very close and his direct collaborators equally play an essential role. Former itinerant ambassador Augustin Katumba Mwanke tops the list, so much so that he has been branded the “Dick Cheney of Congo” in Kinshasa. A native of Katanga, this mining engineer trained in South Africa was also very close to Kabila father and has been named in the report of the UN Panel of Experts that investigated the illegal exploitation and looting of Congo’s natural and mineral resopurces. Guillaume Samba Kaputo, another native of Katanga is Joseph Kabila’s special adviser for security matters. He holds a doctorate in political science from Brussels University and was one of Mobutu’s high-ranking official for over twenty years. Marcelin Cishambo, a political adviser, as well as General Denis Kalume, General Didier Etumba are very much listened to by the president.
Léonard She Okitundu, a native of Kasaï Oriental, a lawyer who trained in Switzerland where he worked for the UN in Geneva, occupies the key post of director of the presidential cabinet. The President’s private secretary is Kikaya Bin Karubi, a native of Maniema, a graduate of Boston University, former editor of Channel Africa radio, South Africa, former ambassador to Zimbabwe and former minister of communication.
In the economic domain, you have Jean Claude Masangu, another native of Katanga. Governor of the Central Bank since the fall of Mobutu, Masangu is a former cadre of Citibank, where he worked for 20 years. The president’s close entourage is made up of men most of whom are between 40 and 60 years of age. One of them Vital Kamerhe, general secretary of the PPRD, Kabila’s political party. Kamerhe is one of the rare congolese who can speak all the four national languages. In Kabila’s entourage, you have also two natives of Bandundu and Bas-Congo in the persons of Théophile Mbemba, now minsiter of interior, a biologist by profession and former opposition leader (civil society) during Mobutu’s time and the itinerant ambassador Antoine Ghonda, a former private operator in the security arena, trained in the USA by the US Aid. Ghonda left former rebel leader Jean Pierre Bemba in 2005 and rallied Kabila’s camp.
Sure of a balance-sheet which has nothing dishonourable about it – the restoration of peace and the perspective of the first free and fair general elections since the assassination of Patrice Lumumba (the only elected leader since Congo gained independence from Belgium) - as well as the hardly veiled support from the international community, it is with these men that Joseph Kabila intends to get himself elected on 30.07.2006. But above all, with the support of the people.
In five years, the son of the Mzee has grown in scale. In the physical as well as in the moral sense, in self-confidence as well as in political standing. He put an end to war, restored the rule of law and the authority of the state in almost the whole country, is ready to organise the first free and fair general elections since the assassination of Patrice Lumumba (the only elected leader since Congo gained independence from Belgium). Joseph Kabila who hopes to make of Congo the “China of Africa” vows at 35 that he will not linger too long in power.
What about Mobutu Sese Seko, the dictator ousted from power in 1997 by his father? What can he learn from Mobutu’s reign? Without hesitating, Kabila answers: “A lot. A lot. First of all, don’t silence democracy. Let democracy thrive. That’s one. Two, never ever take, never ever believe, never ever try to believe that the nation belongs to you. You belong to the nation. And everything else belongs to the people. And three, always know when you have to go, when you have to quit.”
MY VISION FOR A NEW CONGO – BY JOSEPH KABILA KABANGE
2006 is for our dear country the Democratic Republic of Congo, the year of many risks, a year which marks the ultimate breaking point between a very long transition and the moment the Congolese people take their destiny into their own hands through the organisation of general elections.
On the last 20th of April, in all soul and conscience and to the best of my knowledge and belief, I responded to the calls of many compatriots who solicited my availability to continue to serve the Nation during the first legislature of the Third Republic, by standing as a candidate for President of the Republic.
Nearly three years have gone by since the last of the many transitions which followed one after the other in the Democratic Republic of Congo [since independence], was inaugurated. On the 18.02. 2006, I promulgated the Constitution of the Third Republic in accordance with the will of the sovereign people who approved it by 84% of suffrages expressed during the referendum held in December 2005. This result, juxtaposed with the plain success and favourable outcome of the operations of enrolment and identification of voters some months earlier, express the firm will of the Congolese people to go to elections and to draw a line on the past.
II. HISTORICAL CONTEXT
On 16th January 2001, while the war of aggression against our country was at its height, the President of the Republic, Mzee Laurent Désiré Kabila, was cowardly assassinated in Kinshasa. It was in those tragic circumstances that I was called to take on the responsibility of leading the Nation and assume the high command of the State which I was already serving in my capacity as a general officer of the armed forces.
I accepted the proposal made to me by the governing bodies of the Republic to exercise the supreme magistracy despite surrounding threats. Acting otherwise would have resulted in creating a political vacuum, which would have only been favourable to the aggression against the Congolese people.
Homage must be paid to our people’s spirit of patriotic resistance which succeeded in foiling the plans Mzee Kabila’s assassins and their silent partners had which consisted of destabilising our country.
During my investiture on 26th January 2001, I took the following commitments:
1.1. – to put an end to war in order to reunify, pacify the country and reaffirm our sovereignty;
1.2. – to re-launch the internal political dialogue with the aim of reconciling Congolese with themselves;
1.3. – to open up Congo to its African environment and to the world through a redynamisation of our diplomacy;
1.4. - to restore the big macroeconomic balances and to create conditions of growth through the liberalisation of the economy;
1.5. - to consolidate democracy and to guarantee human rights;
1.6. – to rebuild the country devastated by the war;
1.7. - to lead the Congolese people to free, credible, democratic and transparent elections.
It is necessary to recall that decades of misrule and mismanagement had then profoundly ruined the nation. Because of the 1998 war of aggression, our country sank even more into an infernal cycle of sedition, ill treatment, looting, plunder, despoliation and massacres.
The national economy which was cannibalised because to the war, suffered a severe regression; infrastructures and other means of production had been destroyed and the foreign external cooperation broken off. The Democratic Republic of Congo lived in total isolation.
II. SOME PROGRESS THAT HAVE BEEN MADE
Thanks to the sacrifices consented by all our compatriots, important progress have been made in the political, diplomatic, economic, social and cultural domains during the last five years. I would like to mention particularly the period going from 2001-2003 during which, I had notably to:
2.1 – reopen the dialogue between Congolese;
2.2. – facilitate the national reconciliation, notably, by granting an amnesty for acts of war, political offences and offences of opinion in favour of members of former rebel movements and favouring the return of those compatriots exiled in the aftermath of the 17th May 1997 Revolution as well as the restitution of their confiscated goods and properties;
2.3. – initiate the administrative, economic, monetary and fiscal reunification of the country;
2.4. – liberalise the economy notably by abandoning a fixed exchange rate and adopting a floating exchange rate, thus improving the rate of growth and guaranteeing the stability of prices and the regularity of the provision of supplies, particularly, oil products;
2.5. – stabilise the national macroeconomic arena right from the first days of my accession [to power] in 2001, which allowed the rate of inflation to fall from 511% for the year 2000 to 100% for 2001, then to 4.4% for 2003;
2.6. – to triple the national revenue reflected in the State budget envelope which increased from $300 millions in 2001 to $800 millions in 2003;
2.7. – revive the programme between our country and international financial institutions (IMF, World Bank) ten months after my advent at the helm of the State;
2.8. – consolidate ties of friendship and solidarity with other African countries through the axis of political and diplomatic cooperation, particularly with our neighbours;
2.9. – insert the Democratic Republic of Congo into the world communication web thanks to a much wider coverage of the country by international telecommunication networks and information highways. 2.10. – facilitate the opening and proliferation of private media enterprises and of Human Rights Defense Organisations, which, since then, freely exercise their activities in all liberty;
2.11. – make close all places of detention which are not the concern of courts and tribunals;
2.12. – launch the first big works involving the construction of infrastructures;
2.13. – improve the business environment thanks to the promulgation of Investments Code, Forestry Code, Mining Code, Employment Code and the institution of employment tribunals;
2.14. – reestablish the long forgotten principle of democratic elections as the unique way of access to power in our country;
III. 2003-2006: AN INEVITABLE TRANSITION
By the will of the parties signatories of the Global and Inclusive Accord, our country was governed during the last three years by an institutional architecture “sui generis” (peculiarly of its own kind), baptised “1+4” in reference to the fact that the President of the Republic shares the leadership with four Vice-presidents. Such a situation was the source of a certain number of challenges to the authority of the State, thus breaking the momentum that the country was engaged in, gathered and gained between 2001 and 2003.
While we regret the misadventures which were nothing less than the price that had to be paid for the restoration of peace in the Democratic Republic of Congo, it must be noted that within the framework of transitional institutions, the essential objectives were, the pacification, the reunification, the national reconciliation and the organisation of elections for the advent of legitimate leaders. It was not always possible to maintain the momentum on the programme of the years 2001-2003 with a deliberate efficiency.
One thing is certain: during these five years put together, we could have done better. If you take into consideration the persistent poverty of the big majority of the population notably, the hard situation of street children, the disastrous and appalling conditions of the road network in the interior and the serious deficits of access to electrical energy and clean drinking water that Congolese have always known and suffered, some have rightly come to heavily stigmatise a kind of interruption of the process of national reconstruction initiated from 2001. But we must recognise by all means that despite undeniable abnormalities, the transitional institutions have achieved their ends: to prepare the country for general elections which are going to take place. Big works involving the rehabilitation of collective equipment have moreover already been launched. It is the case, among others, of the launch of the rehabilitation of the four national roads out of six as well as the repairing of the ports of Mbandaka and of Kinshasa.
IV. WHAT MY STRUGGLE IS TODAY
I am convinced that with a legitimate power and democratically established government, we shall provide ourselves with the most sure means to perfect the initiatives we undertook to safeguard national interests from 2001 but which were forced by circumstances to be put on hold or concealed under the bushel with the establishment of the “1+4” regime. That is why, after mature reflection, I acquiesced to respond both to the call of my conscience as well as to the demands of those, from the four corners of our country, expressed the wish to see me participate in the competition for the democratic conquest of power.
At the dawn of the Third Republic, our country must resume with its ambition of playing the role that is its due in the stabilisation, integration and harmonious development of the African continent and the world.
We must, accordingly, consolidate the Nation which has resisted against all the odds and trials of all sorts, rebuilt the State apparatus whose traditional foundations have been shaken by recurrent conflicts, develop an economy full of yet non-explored and non-exploited potentialities and to fight against poverty.
My vision for a new Congo is based on a reasonable optimism which inhabits me, looking at the quality of men and women of our country who constitute our first source of wealth. That is why, I intend to consecrate my energy to create optimal conditions to set ourselves to work again in order to conjure the defamatory and opprobrious paradox of this country potentially very rich but eternally assisted from outside. In fact, the well being to which we are entitled will only be obtained at the price of our own great effort and by our own sweat.
My priorities in this respect are:
- The consolidation of the Nation thanks to the pacification and reconciliation of Congolese with themselves.
- The restoration of the State through a comprehensive revalorisation of public services on the whole and particularly the justice system and the administration, the armed forces and security forces.
- The economic development through the revival of agriculture, the sole guarantee for the independence of our stomach as well as the construction and the rehabilitation of infrastructures in order to give the Congolese people the means to maximise their potentialities.
- The fight against poverty thanks notably to education which forms and through which the creative spirit is qualified to be at the service of others and of the community, well performing health care centres affordable by all, salubrious housing but also as comfortable as possible and access to that basic elementary need that clean drinking water is.
I intend, thanks to institutional means that the suffrages will give me, with the active backing and support of my partners gathered within the Alliance of the Presidential Majority (APM) and of all men and women of good will, to devote myself to these priorities in order to perfect and finish my project in favour of the emancipation of the Congolese people. These priorities can be articulated in the following manner:
A. – THE CONSOLIDATION OF THE NATION
4.1. – The consolidation of peace, of national unity, of the multicultural identity of the Congolese people and the reconciliation between generations, political, ethnic and socio-professional groups.
4.2. – The reinforcement of the mechanisms of the defense of the territorial integrity of our country which experienced partition and came within a hair breadth of disappearance from the map of the world.
4.3. – The gathering and the mobilisation of Congolese, men and women in order to keep the flame of patriotism burning.
4.4. – The institution of good governance as a requirement in life and in public management: primacy to common, general interest, transparency, rewarding good public management and sanctioning bad one, the promotion of a responsible leadership.
4.5. - The promotion of Rights, of liberties, of national solidarity and equal opportunities among all citizens.
B. - THE RESTORATION OF THE STATE
4.6. – The eradication of the scourge of corruption thanks to a decisive action against impunity through the rehabilitation of the judicial system. I will see to it that the judiciary and its joint services receive the necessary means so that the punishment of criminals is certain, prompt, just and rigorous.
4.7. - The implementation of a veritable democratic revolution by a constant support to the big projects of territorial decentralisation as well as the banishing of dictatorship and unilateral and outdated methods of acquisition of power.
4.8. – To set on foot both armed forces and a dissuasive, mobile, reassuring and motivated police force which is no longer perceived as a threat to the population. Disciplined, equipped with appropriate logistics and a command that severely represses the wasting and the squandering of resources, the stealing and embezzlement of the means that are allocated to them, they will be able to defend our frontiers and insure the security of citizens.
4.9. The opening of Congo to Africa and to the world. Cooperation understood as a mutual enrichment of peoples, will be favoured first and foremost with our brothers in the neighbouring countries without detriment or prejudice to our people’s national interests. Pacified, reconciled with itself, committed to a trusting relation of good neighbourliness in the region, our country will resume its walk to stability and progress. It will find its natural place in the concert of free Nations.
4.10. The fight against large scale and organised criminality and international terrorism which must not find in our institutional disorders and the immensity of our territory, their fertile ground
C. - ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT
In economic matters, aware of the destruction of the national economic tissue due to war and mismanagement and its catastrophic impact on the daily lives of the Congolese people, I intend to rebuild the country on the basis of the principles of social market economy. It is about putting the Congolese man or woman at the centre of improvement programmes of our macro-economic sector, in terms of infrastructure, agricultural, timber, mineral and energy production.
I will also get down to diversify of our outlets through an efficient promotion of our industry, services and banking intermediation.
The following measures will enable us to attain achieve these objectives:
4.11. – The improvement of the macro-economic sector in order to break away from the instability of economic parameters which I tackled since June 2001. The reform of the tax system coupled with the reorganisation of the financial services authority, the harmonious and progressive integration of the informal sector into the formal economic circuit or network and the stabilisation of the business environment thanks to a legal security and judicial guarantee to all… are indispensable to restore the trust from economic operators and to foster investment in the long term.
4.12. – The redefinition of our budgetary policy to make of it a strong instrument of development in favour of disadvantaged sections of the population (a pro-poor budget).
4.13. – The consolidation of the stability of the Congolese franc and of its use in national transactions in preference to other currencies as well as the promotion of a well-performing and active banking system capable of supporting the economic activity in general and the private sector in particular.
4.14. – The construction of transport infrastructures – ports, airports, roads, railways for a fluid mobility of people and goods.
Relying on public funds as well as in favour of a public-private partnership, I envisage, among other actions during the next five years, to:
- to double the real profitable capacity of the port of Matadi;
- to asphalt 1/5 of the total national roads;
- to modernise the N’djili International Airport and the Lubumbashi, Kisangani, Mbuji Mayi and Goma Airports;
- to provide new cars and equipment to the National Railways Company - Société Nationale de Chemin de Fer (SNCC) which links four our provinces.
4.15. – The redynamisation of agriculture and the farming industry which must become the basis national development through the progressive introduction of mechanisation, the reinforcement of our country’s agronomic research capacity, the guarantee of decent and well remunerating prices to farmers and the establishment of agricultural cooperatives. It is a question of ensuring food security to all Congolese and to rehabilitate our production capacities as well as the exportation of basic agricultural products.
4.16. – The strict implementation of all the measures of the mining code in vue of guaranteeing the appropriation by the State of financial means generated by the mineral exploitation and their allocation for the country’s economic development and the radicalisation of the fight against fraud and the looting of our natural and mineral resources.
4.17. – the supply of electrical energy, the main factor of economic development and fundamental right written in the Constitution to the majority of Congolese.
4.18. – The taking into account of our community development needs and the protection of the environment as well as the interests of future generations and of the whole entire humanity when exploiting our waters and forests.
4.19. – The promotion of big projects for the industrialisation of the Democratic Republic of Congo in view of facilitating the local transformation of our raw materials and to subsequently increase the value of our production.
4.20. The rigorous implementation by the ANAPI (National Agency for the Promotion of Investments) of the Investments Code in order to reduce excessive costs incurred by red tape and bureaucracy which overwhelm even crush the sector of services and notably the banking sector in favour of which anti-squabble and anti-corruption measures will be taken.
4.21. - The re-launch of the tourism industry through government backing to the hotel business and of big projects involving the rehabilitation and the safeguarding or maintenance of security around our national parks, reserves and other protected sites.
D. FIGHT AGAINST POVERTY
My intention is to provide, to give back or to invest considerable means (funds) - given their inevitable usefulness - to the social sector and to poor parents impoverished by this long transition.
I will particularly see to it that:
4.22. – the abject poverty that is suffocating the Congolese people is eradicated, thanks notably to the creations of new jobs and the guarantee of a better access to a decent housing be it in the cities or in the rural areas, in the countryside;
4.23. – the promotion of good health through State structural and direct intervention, notably against ambient insalubrity surrounding human dwellings and the improvement of the health care system taken care of by the State for the benefit of all Congolese where they are;
4.24. The progressive improvement of accessibility by Congolese to electrical energy and to clean drinking water as well as the definition of fresh water management policy for everybody’s interest;
4.25. The upholding of the Constitutional principle of the gratuity of primary education which constitute an efficacious fine arm against ignorance and poverty;
4.26. The full commitment by the State and by all its technostructures to the fight against the HIV/AIDS pandemic and against malaria which have become veritable threats against the survival of our people;
E. CULTURE, SPORTS AND LEISURE
4.27. – The re-foundation of the education system thanks to programmes which harmoniously espouse the needs and the realities of the Congolese society. The valorisation of professional education and the generalisation of new technologies are in this regard, a priority in primary and secondary schools. At the superior level, an active partnership between the University, public institutions, administrations and enterprises suppliers and providers of jobs will enable our “alma mater” to get out of its shell, its cocoon to share the society’s destiny.
4.28. – the restoration of the civic and moral dimension of education in order to give means of excellence to young Congolese. The graduation procedures, the equivalence of diplomas and the licensing of private education establishments must become very rigorous in order to protect the country against fake specialists in all domains.
4.29. - The promotion of cultural production by fostering creativity and the profitability of mental works, particularly in the artistic domain where Congolese have always proven their unequalled talents such as in music.
4.30. – The rehabilitation and the creation of sport and recreation infrastructures for promoting good health for all and to enable young people to develop their bodies and their mind and to protect them against idleness which is the antechamber of delinquency.
I commit myself to uphold human rights and fundamental liberties guaranteed by the Constitution of the Third Republic, particularly the sacred character of the human person, the right to life and to physical integrity, the upholding of the man-woman parity (equality) in public institutions and the protection of children.
This is the place for me to appeal to each and everyone’s conscience to join in the fight against abominations such as the abandonment of children under the pretext that they are witches or to deprive widows and orphans in contempt of the law and of the Family Code.
I invite all Congolese to cultivate with me, in them and around them, respect for republican values and values of excellence, which are:
- respect for laws,
- respect of common/public and private good,
- dialogue and tolerance as a way to settle contentions and conflicts,
- fight against corruption and every other form of vices that affect our society,
- relentless work,
- respect of the time or good time keeping,
- a culture of order and discipline,
- respect for those in authority,
- respect for the elders,
To do this, I will take measures with the view of consolidating the family as an institution and I will support religious confessions in their efforts to promote moral values.
In the same manner, I commit myself to enhance the prestige of the “Ordres Nationaux” (National Orders) which recompense republican virtues.
I ask you for your votes, your suffrages, which constitute an efficacious means by which we will make of our Democratic Republic of Congo a country where it is good to live, thanks to efforts of each citizen and mutually advantageous exchanges with the outside world.
Armed with this Vision, I invite my compatriots to join me, whatever chapel or grouping they belong to, so that, together, in an environment devoid of incapacitating and debilitating dysfunction which has characterised the last three years of the transition, we may rehabilitate our people in their status as makers of their own history.
The Alliance of the Presidential Majority (APM) which has constituted itself around me is open to all because I am convinced that we will never be many enough to combat the ills which have brought our country down over the last 40 years.
I reiterate my conviction which is that it is only a job well done that can liberate us from the grip of underdevelopment and of marginalisation. The messengers of short cut solutions and of the law of lesser effort, are, in this regard harmful to our national interests.
Our National Heroes Patrice Emery Lumumba and Mzee Laurent Désiré Kabila as well as many more illustrious or unrecognised Congolese, who also had to write the glorious pages of our history in various domains, have bequeathed to us in heritage the love of the country, the quest for excellence, a sense of abnegation of altruism without which there is neither development nor collective well-being.
May their example guide our steps!
Long live the Democratic Republic of Congo!
Kinshasa, 26 june 2006.
JOSEPH KABILA KABANGE
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