Moise Katumbi: a wolf in sheep’s clothing

Moise Katumbi: a wolf in sheep’s clothing

A guest post by Bernard Katompa, President of the Génération Déterminée Movement in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The DRC heads to the polls in November 2016.

The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) hosts the potential to undergo seismic positive shifts as we enter 2016. A transition towards greater citizen empowerment and equality is on the horizon, achieved by and coupled with a pivot forward to modern democracy through accountable elections, meeting, if not exceeding the moral measuring-stick of emerging Africa.

However, as in nature and tragically true-to-form for many emerging socioeconomies, the ‘old guard’, whenever threatened, will act in self-defense accordingly; though malleable in methodology, they will seek to fortify their own positioning, in this case at the expense of their fellow Congolese.

Prior to his resignation over three months ago from the ruling party, Moise Katumbi, the former Governor of Katanga and member of the People’s Party for Reconstruction and Democracy (PPRD), had always made his support to President Kabila extensively known by declaring his undeniable and indefinite loyalty to the man who made him who he is in the eyes of the domestic and international community. Katumbi delivered votes whenever called upon and backed Kabila in the 2006 and 2011 presidential elections, facilitated from the Congo’s richest copper-producing region and therefore increasingly influential in the nation’s decision-making.

Conversely, at a news conference on Sunday, the 3rd of January of this new year, a few months after his resignation from the ruling party, Katumbi announced that he is now a member of the Citizen Front 2016. Providing greater background during the address, Katumbi indicated “…the purpose of the Citizen Front is first to insist on the provincial elections of 2016 and the 2016 presidential elections by respecting the [set] constitutional deadlines and have the electoral calendar [implemented], as soon as possible “.

Despite tremendous pressure to comply with the constitutional term limit and having declared that he will obey the rule of law previously, Kabila himself has since expressed no interest in stepping down; instead, he has attempted to put forth several mechanisms that would delay elections and at the same time allow the President to remain in power long beyond the prescribed deadline.

In January of 2015, widespread protests broke out throughout the DRC, when Kabila attempted to pass a new law that required a national census to be held before any future elections. Witnessing the irrepressible opposition from the Congolese populace towards the amendment of the electoral process, the law was later rescinded. However, this intensified Kabila’s intention to cling on to power, in the midst of several other ploys which would result in the delay of the 2016 presidential elections and besmirch the image of Africa’s truly largest power-player-positioning in a contemporary global marketplace.

Kabila most recently announced the need for the hosting of a ‘National Dialogue’ prior to the elections scheduled for the 27th of November, 2016, which has been widely criticized by the Congolese Populace, the Congolese diaspora, political organizations and civil societies worldwide, labeled rightly as yet another mechanism for the President and the ruling party to amend the constitution and thus remain in power.

Either accomplished via widespread propaganda distribution by the presiding elite, coercing and/or bribing the impoverished population to support the notion or by Kabila’s allies throughout the country threatening the Congolese populace directly that not supporting the dialogue will result in further unrest, widespread violence and loss of life, steps have been concretely taken to ensure its production is unabated.

And, as pressure mounts on Kabila and the ruling party from both the Congolese populace and international community to abide by the constitutional term limit and host the 2016 national elections, Kabila has now come up with a ‘Plan B’ – He has turned to his long-term ally, Moise Katumbi, as his last resort to hang on to power.

The American author Emma Bull once said that “…coincidence is the word we use when we can’t see the levers and pulley”. In this instance, with Kabila the lever and Katumbi the pulley, Kabila and his allies would like the Congolese populace to accept as true that recent events can all be summed up as pure coincidences.

It is nonetheless happenstance that Katumbi, once known as Kabila’s right hand man and confidant, has carefully manoeuvred himself to become a ‘member of the opposition’ some eleven months prior to the scheduled elections.

And what is clear is that, as with any given modern nation, the constitution serves as a historic, basic framework for a lasting democracy, one adhered to in order to prevent any potential failures in governance. Thus it is alarming that if Katumbi’s belief in democracy is as he claims it to be, that he would conversely choose to stay on for as long as he did, as opposed to immediately resigning from the ruling party from the instant it became evident that Kabila had begun sending smoke signals that he had no intentions of stepping down.

Today, a waiting game has been carefully constructed and indeed persists, wherein Katumbi will eventually declare his candidacy once Kabila and the ruling party realize that the Congolese populace will demand their rights until they are given to them.

His popularity largely fabricated in the media to date, Katumbi, no doubt more of the same as a candidate himself and in a bid to win the Congolese sympathy, is now trying to associate himself with the so-called opposition leaders who are either working for Kabila or have already been infiltrated or influenced.

In any event, it should be noted that the Congolese populace are sick and tired of so-called advocates, ‘leaders’ who have only taken power for themselves; wolves in sheeps’ clothing, existing to continue to worsen the miserable and dire circumstances that the Congolese populace suffer under as elections loom large this year.

Without tangible alternatives, the same bird in different feathers will make no difference to the DRC and its trajectory.

Bernard Katompa is the President of the Génération Déterminée Movement in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The views expressed are his own.

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Guest Post

This article was published as part of the GRI Guest Post Series. GRI guest posts come from leading experts in business, government, and academia. The series strives to bring a diverse range of perspectives on the critical issues of our time. The views expressed in this article are solely that of the author and do not necessarily represent the views or opinions of GRI.