RUMBLE IN THE JUNGLE: Election, Protests and Social Media

Election, Election, Election. This topic is at the tip of the tongue of every Congolese person at this instant. The voting which began on the 28th November 2011 has been foiled with controversies. From logistical difficulties, allegations of rigged ballots, bribed citizens told to vote for a particular candidate for a sum of money, to conspiracies of  influences from the  international community which favour the current government in place. To add assault to injury, the results which were due to be published on the December 6th had been pushed back 48 hours in order to ensure “transparency and respect for electoral and judicial procedures” as advised by Ngoy Mulunda; chairman of the country’s new independent electoral agency CENI (Independent National Electoral Commission).

On December 8th,  when the results were due to be announced, the CENI decides to make another announcement: A further 24hrs delay of results announcement. Tensions between the opposing parties has almost reached its climax, the diaspora Congolese people have also been protesting in various countries in order to put pressure on its government and on the international community to ensure free and fair electoral process is adhered to. Social media networking sites Twitter and Facebook have been inundated with information, speculations, group discussions, hypotheses  and  analyses, some true while others unfounded and questionable. Even chain emails have been passed around – needless to say; DRC Elections 2011 will not go down lightly in the country’s history and more so, in its precarious future.

What’s the commotion?

There is a clear divide between the Congolese population. Firstly, among the opposing party supporters  in the country (PPRD vs UDPS) who have been clashing violently since the presidential campaigns began and secondly among the Diaspora Congolese who no longer want Joseph Kabila  in power because of his questionable identity and penchant towards dictatorship. Their preference is candidate Etienne Tshisekedi, leader of the Union for Democracy and Social Progress (UDPS), a nationalist whom they believe will have the population’s best interest at heart.   It was apparent to me, while on my recent trip to DRC – I even got the jest from the various social networking sites, that president Joseph Kabila is  popular with the younger Congolese generation , especially university students. They see him as a breath  of fresh air; a leader with a youthful vision who will lead the country from plunder to prosperity. While others describe him as a dictatorial opportunist and an oppressor who has brought the country to its knees in the ten years he has been in power at a faster rate than President Mobutu had done in his thirty-two year reign.

Where is the international media?

While a reactive chain of protests is occurring worldwide in a domino effect where various Congolese people have sought refuge and asylum; namely France, Belgium, Britain, South Africa, Canada to name a few, little seems to be making it on the news. This only reinforces the views of  many Congolese people  living abroad who believe that the various European institutions  are neo-colonists, that uses capitalism, globalization, and cultural forces to control their country in lieu of direct military or political control ok this is a little biased. Some speculations are going as far as suggesting that president Kabila’s government funds some of these institutions in some shape or form.

Aljazeera once again, in my opinion prove that they are above the rest. They have been following the progress of the elections in DRC from its offset. Here is their latest update.

As I walk through the valley of the shadow of  democracy, I will fear no evil…

I am going to take a very biased and somewhat subjective stance on this one. The DRC’s 2011  elections have brought patriotic sentiments that I did not know I had. In addition to  what I witnessed while visiting the country;  the poverty and hardship people are enduring is bewildering. While the politicians  and members of parliament are building apartments, hotels, becoming land owners – not to mention the investments they are making outside of the country. Any person would be angered. Clearly becoming a politician in DRC is a ticket to prosperity – and this is seen in these elections where some 18,000 candidates registered to compete for 500 parliamentary seats!

In Congo, the enemy of the state is the government. A bunch of self-serving oppressors who still treat national income as their personal saving account. Mineral wealth and continued foreign interventions to secure it by both neighbouring African and industrialised Western states (and now far eastern, too) have conspired to leave DRC without the economical, social, political or infrastructural strength to benefit from its potential. The quality of life of its citizens has deteriorated frantically,  lack of basic public goods provided, epidemic rape in Eastern parts of the country, insecurity in the Great Lakes region, a dependency on foreign aid, an education and health care system on its knees, unpaid civil servants, increased unemployment, lack of freedom of expression, selling off of state assets by the government etc.

The United States and Britain are urging the Electoral Commission to publish the results polling station by polling station, so parties can compare the figures with what was reported on the ground.  Britain’s Secretary of State for International Development Andrew Mitchell told parliament that results broken down by polling stations will help facilitate what he called “any necessary appeals.” (http://www.voanews.com/english/news/Congo-Election-Results-Delayed-Again-135283788.html)

There is a public outcry for democracy, justice and for a stop to impunity. As a nation, the Congolese have suffered enough and are tired. They demand the minimum that is rightfully theirs: water, electricity, education, health, food, housing, work and peace. A big change in the way that the international community views them.  Respect for the lives lost and in this historical turn; they demand that their wishes in voting for a president whom they see fit is respected by all.

There is a clear consensus: WE DO NOT WANT A CIVIL WAR. WE DO NOT WANT ANY BLOOD SHED. WE WANT TRANSPARENCY IN OUR ELECTIONS.

And so the waiting continues……………………………….

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2 comments

  1. what do you mean by jungle?

    1. Rumble in the jungle was a historic boxing event between then world Heavyweight champion George Foreman against former world champion and challenger Muhammad Ali on October 30, 1974 in Kinshasa, Zaire. Jungle – DRC has the 2 largest rainforest in the world – play on words. what is your interpretation of it?

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