By Samy Badibanga, former Prime Minister of DRC.
KINSHASA, Democratic Republic of Congo, February 9, 2018 – The political conundrum of the elections has blinded us all: the emergency in DR Congo is political as much as it is human and humanitarian. Of course, everything must be done so that the Congolese people can choose their leaders at the end of 2018. But, at the beginning of 2018, the top priority is to protect the lives of 13 million people threatened by the ongoing humanitarian crisis in Kasai, Kivu, Tanganyika and other provinces of the Congo. And this requires an International Donor Conference in order to raise the $1.68 billion for the United Nations humanitarian response plan for the Congo.
This crisis kills every passing second. It kills women, children, and men who have fled the violence, hidden in the forest or even further away, and have nothing left when they return. This disaster could soon claim between one and two million lives if humanitarian aid is not funded. These dizzying figures are a poor reflection of the reality of a child or a woman taking their last breath. Not killed by violence, but by famine or disease.
The Congo crisis has been neglected. Today, it is the largest humanitarian crisis on the planet, and it is also the least funded, despite being classified at the maximum level of humanitarian emergency by the United Nations. The conflict between the Pygmies and Bantu in Tanganyika alone has already displaced 500,000 people – as many as the Rohingya crisis in Burma. According to UNOCHA, as well as those in Tanganyika, there are 1.5 million displaced in Kasai and more than 950,000 in Kivu and other provinces, making a total of 4.35 million people. In Uganda, 238,000 Congolese have sought shelter to escape the violence in Kivu, and a thousand more arrive each week. 7,000 people have taken refuge in Burundi and 33,000 in Angola, to name but a few. In fact, the total population displacement in the Congo today comes to more than that in Syria, Iraq and Yemen combined. How many of these 4.35 million displaced people are joining the migration routes from the Horn of Africa to the Libyan slave camps?
Whilst the conflict born in Kasai in August 2016 has killed 5,000 people so far, two million more could die of hunger. These populations survived the conflict, and returned at the end of the violence only to be unable to find food, water, toilets, clothes, roofs or shelter, work or school or any public services, and finding in their place villages burned to the ground, health centres looted, roads destroyed, agricultural plantations ravaged and cholera?
This is the plea for help from the churches where people are taking refuge that we have been proclaiming since the beginning of November 2017 on behalf of the Hope coordination, led by Cardinal Mosengwo for the Catholic Church and the Rev. Bokundoa, President of the Protestant Church, to the United Nations, the European Union, France and the entire international community. It is on behalf of this wounded, violated, displaced and abandoned population that we are calling for the urgent organisation of an International Donor Conference.
On 17 November 2016, the International Conference for the Central African Republic raised $2.2 billion. According to the United Nations, the humanitarian funding needs in the DRC for 2018 amount to $1.68 billion. The Congo, whose population is close to 90 million, twenty times more than the CAR and its 4.59 million people, is in great need of the same level of global solidarity.
Without an International Donor Conference, the United Nations humanitarian response plan for 2018 will not be even half funded. At the end of January 2018, it was 2% financed, and the plight of the people of the Congo forgotten by a planet in crisis. Yet, strong humanitarian action can still save millions of lives and give hope for a new future for the Congolese. By adding emergency aid to action for the post-conflict rehabilitation of socio-economic infrastructure, it will be possible to envisage progress towards sustainable development goals in a country of nearly 100 million people, where any progress can have a major impact. This is where the International Donor Conference for the Congo, which we call upon the international community to organise as quickly as possible, should lead us.
The DRC crisis can no longer be neglected: goo.gl/QtAawq
The Commission Electorale Nationale Independante (CENI) of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) announced new timeline for Presidential Elections. This is because the President is still on his third term without an election, as the Constitution only provides him with two terms. President Joseph Kabila should have stepped down 19th December 2016. That has not happen, he is still lingering while enjoying the killings and chaos in Kasai-Oriental and the South-Kivu and North-Kivu provinces. Because he uses that tactic to extend his time and also postpone elections.
Since the CENI dropped a new timeline and calendar for up-coming elections. It proves they have put up plan that schemes of an election in December 2018, while announcing the winner between 9th January 2019 to 19th January 2019. While Presenting the new President between 12h January to 19th January 2019. Therefore, this move is buying Kabila even more time. Not like he has bought himself enough time to spend the whole of 2017 on the throne. This while their been trouble in Beni, Bukavu and Kasai. Not that this has slowed him down or even showed any sort of action that gives faith of any coming election.
He has registered himself for an up-coming election, but Kabila has now done that twice. So that gig is up and people shouldn’t believe it, even if United Nations Envoy for United States Nikki Haley believes it and eats out of his hand. That doesn’t believe others should do so. Because Glencore is earning their profits on the mineral resources of the country. Not that transparency is needed, as long as Kabila and his associates are paid-in-full. This knows the international businesses and mineral industry, they are accepting it and doesn’t care about the human carnage and instability they provide the Republic.
Clearly, Kabila and CENI are working together. As the timeline came, the CENI dropped a paper showing their troubles and needed funds, even as the International Aid came to pay for the General Election of 2016. An election that never happen, but still the funds given has been spoiled by a corrupt group of politicians in Kinshasa. Therefore, don’t expect that Kabila nor any of his loyal cronies wants things to change. They don’t, that is why we are still talking about elections as theory and not acted upon.
I won’t believe elections are about to happen, before the CENI orders ballot papers, announce candidates and gives space to civil society, as the state has arrested activists all-over, they have put politicians into exile and made sure the biggest opposition parties has their headquarters not in Kinshasa, but in Brussels, Belgium. You know something is wrong when the RDC politicians has to seek refugees at their former colonial masters, instead of being in their independent republic.
I don’t trust Kabila to step-down, not because I want to stay in power, but because his self interest and his wealth is based on being the Executive and a President. His wealth and businesses are built within the state and are proxy-state financed. So if he steppes down, he might loses contracts and kick-backs from business agreements and partners. That rather make business with the new guy or party, since they might choose differently, they might even be more transparent and believe in open-government. As the people can see into the contracts and license agreements, between mineral extraction companies and the government.
That is why CENI dropped the timeline now nearly a year on overtime, as Kabila has eaten space and makes him more indispensable, even when he is not. President Joseph Kabila is just using the CENI to his benefit, just like the rest of the state functions. He is eating and creating chaos to suit him… the DRC will not change with him at the helm, it will only be more hurt and more trouble. Kabila will use all tricks and continue to prolong his presidency, even play cat-and-mouse with the international allies. If he has too. Peace.