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Congo (Kinshasa): "No Elections" Reports
October 26, 2016 (161026)
(Reposted from sources cited below)
Central Africa's largest and most populous country, the Democratic
Republic of the Congo (DRC), is bordered by nine countries: the
Republic of the Congo, Central African Republic, South Sudan,
Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, Tanzania, Zambia, and Angola. With the exception of
Zambia and Tanzania, none can claim to be a consolidated competitive
democracy. But most have at least managed to hold presidential
elections within the last two years. In contrast, with this month's
postponement of the scheduled election for 2016, the DRC has joined
South Sudan and Angola in extending a "no elections" scenario.
Few, if any, observers would venture to predict the next few months
and years, as domestic protest plus international criticism and
mediation has been met with state violence and continued stalling.
But the consensus view is "not good"; veteran commentator on Central
Africa Colette Braeckman, for example, notes that "the milk has been spilled" and
warns that there is danger of "breaking the bottle" or even
"butchering the cow."
This issue of AfricaFocus contains a diverse set of recent articles
and other links providing summaries, analyses, and background on the
current situation, without venturing into predictions or solutions.
Included below is an editorial from The Observer, the very short
commentary by Braeckman (in French), a report on a $413 million
bribery case judgement against the New York hedge firm Och-Ziff,
brief excerpts from an extensive Washington Post feature article on
"The cobalt pipeline: From dangerous tunnels in Congo to consumers'
mobile tech," and a commentary from African Arguments raising the
question whether President Joseph Kabila can trust his security
Poll shows Kabila support at only 7.8%, October 25, 2016
For previous AfricaFocus Bulletins on the Democratic Republic of the
Congo, visit http://www.africafocus.org/country/congokin.php
Other sources particularly worth following for updates and
Additional links of related interest
UN Human Rights Report, October 21, 2016
Statement by European Union, October 17, 2016
MONUSCO statement to UN Security Council, October 11, 2016
Le Monde background on violence in September, September 21, 2016
Reviews of The Democratic Republic of the Congo: Hope and Despair,
by Michael Deibert. African Arguments, 2013.
http://tinyurl.com/zt4t2jm and http://tinyurl.com/j39mhj2
++++++++++++++++++++++end editor's note+++++++++++++++++
The Observer view on Congo and the failure of democracy in Africa
The Democratic Republic of Congo is the latest country
disintegrating because a leader wants to hang on to power
22 October 2016
http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree - Direct URL:
Two decades ago, the Democratic Republic of Congo, sub-Saharan
Africa's largest country, was engulfed in what became known as
Africa's Great War, a conflict that drew in half-a-dozen
neighbouring countries and raged for five years from 1998.
The conflict and its aftermath cost the lives of an estimated 5.4
million people, mainly from starvation and disease. This epic
disaster was largely ignored outside Africa, even though it was the
developed world's insatiable demand for the DRC's mineral riches
that helped to fuel it.
The war was halted, in part, by the introduction of a new
constitution and a democratic system of governance, replacing
decades of Mobutu Sese Seko's brutal dictatorship. In 2006 Joseph
Kabila was confirmed as DRC president by popular vote, although the
fairness of the election was widely disputed. In 2011 he was reelected.
Again, the results were hotly contested. A key factor in
their acceptance was his pledge to honour the constitution and
refrain from seeking a third term.
The DRC's next presidential election is due next month. It isn't
going to happen. A court last week upheld a request by the election
commission that the poll be postponed, ostensibly because voter
rolls are incomplete. A "national dialogue" by the ruling coalition
and involving fringe parties and civic groups, but boycotted by the
main opposition and Catholic church, also agreed a delay until at
least April 2018. In effect, Kabila and his security force backers
have compromised the constitution and the judiciary and engineered a
silent coup. His solemn 2011 promise has been broken.
This shameless subversion of the democratic process (parliamentary
and provincial polls have also been put off) was condemned by the
main opposition party, the UDPS, as a "flagrant violation".
Rassemblement (Gathering), the multi-party opposition organisation,
reacted with fury and called a general strike last Wednesday.
Kabila's attempt to cling to power threatens the DRC's hard-won and
still precarious stability. Worse, it risks a return to national and
regional upheaval, violence and war. At least this time the world is
paying more attention. Maman Sambo Sidikou, the senior UN official
in the country, warned the UN security council last week that
"large-scale violence is all but inevitable" if the impasse is not
resolved. "The tipping point could be reached very quickly." After
related clashes in Kinshasa last month, in which at least 50 people
died, the US imposed limited sanctions on army generals implicated
in human rights abuses. On Monday EU foreign ministers also agreed
to pursue possible punitive measures.
Matters are not as clear cut as they might seem. Kabila denies he
wanted the delay. Analysts suggest the president, thrust into office
after his father was assassinated in 2001, is a frontman for the
security apparatus. The opposition is fragmented and its readiness
to resort to protests often leads to violence. Concerns over
stability by countries such as France and Belgium are not wholly
disinterested, commercially speaking. But that the leadership of
another African country appears ready to ride roughshod over
democracy and laws is clear. The DRC has never had a peaceful
transition of power since independence in 1960. This is why term
limits are so important. Last year the presidents of Burundi, Rwanda
and Congo-Brazzaville overrode constitutional requirements that they
step aside. In Burundi's case, violence and displacement resulted.
In Uganda, Yoweri Museveni looks determined to go on for ever.
Robert Mugabe's Zimbabwean "presidency for life" and José Eduardo
dos Santos's Angolan ascendancy provide further examples of endemic
disregard for democratic principles.
It would be a mistake to think Africans care less about selfserving,
corrupt and irresponsible politicians than Europeans or
Americans. The African Union has repeatedly stressed peaceful
political transitions in embedding democratic habits. Studies show
African voters value democratic systems but are increasingly
frustrated at their malfunctioning and wilful subversion.
Nigeria demonstrated last year how it could be done. But South
Africa, ruled since apartheid's end by a single, overpowerful party,
is less of a shining light. Its reported decision to renounce the
International Criminal Court is another sign that too many African
politicians would rather jettison democratic and legal norms than
subject themselves to scrutiny and public judgment.
Le lait est renversé
Le Carnet de Colette Braeckman, Le Soir
October 18, 2016
http://blog.lesoir.be/colette-braeckman/ - Direct URL:
On le pressentait, c'est désormais confirmé: le lait est renversé.
Les élections n'auront pas lieu cette année, ni même l'an prochain.
Ce qui a manqué? L'argent peut-être, la préparation sérieuse sans
doute, mais surtout la volonté politique. Le pouvoir est à blâmer
car tout a été fait (ou pas fait ... ) pour qu'il soit impossible
d'organiser le scrutin dans les délais constitutionnels et qu'un
'rabiot' de deux ans au moins soit accordé au président Kabila.
Le lait est renversé, car la population gronde, qu'en septembre déjà
le sang a coulé. Poussés dans la rue, des jeunes ont brûlé vifs deux
policiers et entamé des pillages. Appelés en renfort, des militaires
ont tiré à bout portant et fait, au moins 50 morts. Et demain, que
va-t-il se passer? Le dialogue qui vient de se conclure avec une
partie de l'opposition fera-t-il rentrer le lait dans la bouteille,
réussira-t-il à calmer les esprits, repartira-t-on comme si de rien
n'était ? Certainement pas: les délais sont inacceptables, les
signataires ne représentent pas la totalité de la classe politique
et même l'inclusion des absents ne garantira l'apaisement. Comment
croire que l'association d'Etienne Tshisekedi, qui, l'été dernier
encore, négociait pour son fils le poste de Premier Ministre et qui
fut depuis Mobutu l'homme de toutes les volte face, suffirait à
calmer le jeu?
Ce qui est sûr, c'est que si le lait est renversé, la confiance
rompue, il faut aujourd'hui veiller à ne pas briser la bouteille. Et
surtout ne pas risquer de dépecer la vache elle-même, ce Congo si
convoité, qui n'a pas encore échappé aux risques d'implosion et de
rebellions diverses. Les progrès enregistrés depuis quinze ans sont
loin d'être irréversibles, les acquis peuvent encore être annulés,
par la révolte populaire sinon par la guerre.
La tâche du futur Premier Ministre s'apparentera à celle de Sisyphe:
auprès du président Kabila, il devra exiger un engagement clair,
avec une promesse de retrait assortie de dates précises, et surtout
il devra avoir les mains libres pour diriger en toute indépendance.
Ce qui supposerait, au minimum, que des technocrates sans allégeance
politique soient nommés aux postes clés: les finances, l'économie,
l'Intérieur, la banque nationale. Rétablir la confiance, c'est aussi
assécher les réseaux mafieux, redistribuer plus équitablement les
ressources, privilégier le 'social'. Même au bord du précipice, il
n'est pas interdit de rêver.
The Och-Ziff Files: Who are The Congolese Who Benefitted?
Congo Research Group | Groupe d'Etude Sur le Congo
September 30, 2016
http://congoresearchgroup.org/ - Direct URL:
This week, big news from the financial world. Och-Ziff, a leading
New York hedge fund that at its height managed $48 billion, has been
fined $413 million for over $100 million in bribes it paid to
government officials in Libya, Guinea, Chad, Niger, and the DR
Congo. Yes, that seems a paltry fine given the abuse involved and
how much it affected the countries involved––its CEO Daniel Och, who
is worth several billion dollars, will pay a mere $2.2 million, and
no one except a consultant will face jail time for now.
The story is huge for several reasons: It is a rare occasion the US
government is enforcing the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act for
corruption in the Congo, and it is a huge blow to one of the
behemoths of the hedge fund world. It is also the first time, to my
knowledge, that we have a solid paper trail proving that the senior
Congolese officials, including the Congolese president himself, were
direct beneficiaries of over $100 million in bribes from foreign
As part of their deal with the US Justice Department, Och-Ziff
provided a public plea of guilt (aka "deferred prosecution
agreement.") You can read it at http://tinyurl.com/je3lhmr (please,
read it). It include Hollywood-ready details of how Och-Ziff dealt
with Congolese officials. It features three protagonists: DRC
Partner, DRC Official 1 and DRC Official 2 and says they both
received millions in bribes from Och-Ziff. For reasons that will
become obvious, you can substitute those names with Dan Gertler,
Joseph Kabila, and Katumba Mwanke.
Here's an example of the detail of the document. In 2008, when Dan
Gertler was trying to wrest control of a mining concession from
Africo, a Canadian firm, one of Gertler's associates texted him:
Hi [DRC Partner], ... im with the main lawyer ... in the Africo
story, he has to arrange with supreme court, attorney gemal [sic]
and magistrates, he wants 500 to give to all the officials and 600
for 3 lawyers cabinets that worked on the file in defense[lawyer]and
batonnier [lawyer]. the converstaion is vey tough. (while talking I
said to ask money to [one of the Akam shareholders], [the Akam
shareholder]said he cant because most of the money has to go to
·[DRC Official 2] . . . i dont know if he wants to provoke me or it
was something [the Akam shareholder]invented ...) but they are now
at 1. 1 in total.
He's talking about about thousands of dollars.
Shortly afterward, Gertler responds: "We can't 'accept a mid result
... Africo must be screwd and finished totally!!!!"
All in all, the legal document says that Gertler transferred $23.5
million of Och-Ziff's money to Katumba Mwanke between 2008 and 2012,
and $10.75 million to a person who is most likely Joseph Kabila.
Bloomberg reported that Gertler ("DRC Partner") paid a total of over
$100 million in bribes to Congolese officials.
How do I know that those are the people involved?
Bloomberg's article clearly identifies Gertler through other sources
familiar with the case, and the document itself is fairly clear: "an
Israeli businessman [with] significant interests in the diamond and
mineral mining industries in the Democratic Republic of the Congo."
It says that "DRC Official 2," was "a senior official in the DRC and
close advisor to DRC Official 1. Since at least 2004, DRC Official 2
was an Ambassador-at-Large for the DRC government and also a
national parliamentarian." It goes on to say, citing an Och-Ziff
employee, that he was Gertler's "guy in the DRC." Finally, it says
he died on February 12, 2012. There is no doubt that is Katumba
As for DRC Official 1, it says that Katumba was his closest aide and
advisor. When Katumba died, Gertler sent a text message to an OchZiff
employee saying: "I'm fine ... sad but fine ... I will have to
help [DRC Official 1] much more now ... tomorrow the burial will
take· place." Again, I cannot imagine that being anyone but
Kabila––Katumba was not an aide to anyone else in the Congolese
government during this time. In private, US government officials
have confirmed this to me.
The cobalt pipeline: From dangerous tunnels in Congo to consumers'
By Todd C. Frankel
The Washington Post
September 30, 2016
Direct URL: http://tinyurl.com/zo63cws
The sun was rising over one of the richest mineral deposits on
Earth, in one of the poorest countries, as Sidiki Mayamba got ready
Mayamba is a cobalt miner. And the red-dirt savanna stretching
outside his door contains such an astonishing wealth of cobalt and
other minerals that a geologist once described it as a "scandale
This remote landscape in southern Africa lies at the heart of the
world's mad scramble for cheap cobalt, a mineral essential to the
rechargeable lithium-ion batteries that power smartphones, laptops
and electric vehicles made by companies such as Apple, Samsung and
But Mayamba, 35, knew nothing about his role in this sprawling
global supply chain. He grabbed his metal shovel and broken-headed
hammer from a corner of the room he shares with his wife and child.
He pulled on a dust-stained jacket. A proud man, he likes to wear a
button-down shirt even to mine. And he planned to mine by hand all
day and through the night. He would nap in the underground tunnels.
No industrial tools. Not even a hard hat. The risk of a cave-in is
"Do you have enough money to buy flour today?" he asked his wife.
She did. But now a debt collector stood at the door. The family owed
money for salt. Flour would have to wait.
Mayamba tried to reassure his wife. He said goodbye to his son. Then
he slung his shovel over his shoulder. It was time.
The world's soaring demand for cobalt is at times met by workers,
including children, who labor in harsh and dangerous conditions. An
estimated 100,000 cobalt miners in Congo use hand tools to dig
hundreds of feet underground with little oversight and few safety
measures, according to workers, government officials and evidence
found by The Washington Post during visits to remote mines. Deaths
and injuries are common. And the mining activity exposes local
communities to levels of toxic metals that appear to be linked to
ailments that include breathing problems and birth defects, health
The Post traced this cobalt pipeline and, for the first time, showed
how cobalt mined in these harsh conditions ends up in popular
consumer products. It moves from small-scale Congolese mines to a
single Chinese company — Congo DongFang International Mining, part
of one of the world's biggest cobalt producers, Zhejiang Huayou
Cobalt — that for years has supplied some of the world's largest
battery makers. They, in turn, have produced the batteries found
inside products such as Apple's iPhones — a finding that calls into
question corporate assertions that they are capable of monitoring
their supply chains for human rights abuses or child labor.
[For continuation of this feature story: http://tinyurl.com/zo63cws]
DR Congo in crisis: Can Kabila trust his own army?
September 20, 2016 by James Barnett
http://africanarguments.org - Direct URL: http://tinyurl.com/jopdtcy
James Barnett is currently a Boren Scholar in Tanzania, having
previously researched at the Africa Center for Strategic Studies at
the National Defense University in Washington, D.C. You can follow
him on Twitter @jbar1648. All views expressed are his own.
Despite protests intensifying with outbreaks of violence and deaths,
President Joseph Kabila has yet to call on his armed forces to
maintain order. He might regret it if he did.
The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is in the midst of a
protracted political crisis as President Joseph Kabila manoeuvres to
stay in power past the end of his second term, which expires this
Kabila's undemocratic machinations – most notably le glissement
('slippage') or delaying of elections due to "logistical" issues –
have drawn the ire of much of the population with frequent protests
and strikes rocking the country since early 2015.
Yesterday, these reached a new pitch as protesters took to the
streets, angry at Kabila's recent efforts to promote a "national
dialogue" – a move the opposition sees as a cynical ploy to
legitimise le glissement. In Kinshasa and Goma, violence erupted as
heavily armed police confronted protesters, leading to the deaths of
at least 17 according to the government and more than 50 according
to the opposition. Four people also reportedly died when the
headquarters of three different opposition parties were burnt down
in the night.
With further protests sure to follow and the possibility of
continued violence looming large, it is worth asking why Kabila has
yet to deploy the military. The answer lies in a deep history of
Preferred instruments of intimidation
The DRC is among the most heavily militarised states in Africa, with
its 70,000-strong Congolese armed forces (FARDC) deployed within the
country to combat various low-intensity threats. However, thus far
it has not been the army that Kabila has called upon on to "restore
public order" but the national police (PNC), the civilian
intelligence service (ANR), and, most notably, the Republican Guard
– Kabila's personal security outfit.
According to an October 2015 report by the UN's Joint Human Rights
Office, there were 142 human rights violations against members of
the political opposition that year. Tellingly, 69 of these were
carried out by the PNC, 24 by the ANR, and just 9 by FARDC. The
actual number of FARDC violations is lower, however, as the report
fails to note that the Republican Guard operates outside the army's
chain of command.
Since he came to office in 2001, Kabila has steadily built up
civilian security forces, over which he exercises direct control, at
the expense of FARDC, the loyalty and effectiveness of which are in
He has built the PNC into a veritable paramilitary force, most
notably in the capital city and opposition stronghold of Kinshasa
where the police chief, Kabila's longtime ally Celestin Kanyama, has
earned the moniker espirit de mort ('spirit of death'). He has
managed to effectively purchase the ANR's loyalty, which has its
roots in the intelligence agencies of Mobutu Sese Seko's rule
And, most crucially to the survival of his regime, Kabila has
buttressed his presidency with a disproportionately formidable
Republican Guard. Nominally a simple presidential security outfit,
the Republican Guard enjoys full-division strength and receives
superior weapons and training than FARDC. The unit's top officers
hail from the president's home state of Katanga, an obvious ploy to
ensure the unit's loyalty.
The existence of a disproportionately sized and financed
presidential guard is generally considered to be indicative of a
weak security sector and poor governance, and Kabila's Republican
Guard is no exception.
FARDC's patronage politics
The Congolese military took its current name and structure in 2002
in the midst of the Second Congo War. As part of the Sun City
Agreement, which sought to end the conflict through a power-sharing
arrangement, the largest rebel groups were incorporated into the
armed forces, including the Rwandan-backed RCD-Goma, the Ugandanbacked
RCD-Kinsangani and MLC groups, and various Mayi-Mayi ethnonationalist
militias. In 2009 the CNDP, a formidable rebel group
formed to defend Congolese Tutsis, joined FARDC's ranks as well.
FARDC thus acts as an instrument of political patronage to co-opt
rivals more than as a fighting force to provide security. By one
estimate, 65% of the FARDC are officers, 26% of whom are highranking,
creating an absurdly top-heavy organisation that begets
unnecessary bureaucracy and promotes impunity.
Combined with poor training, low pay, a critical lack of espirit de
corps, and a culture of corruption and politicisation that dates
back to independence – the Congolese military has attempted nine
coups since 1960 – the result is one of the least professional
armies in Africa.
Furthermore, despite pledging loyalty to the president, former
rebels brought into FARDC have frequently maintained separate chains
of command. The danger of this arrangement came to a head in April
2012, when former CNDP rebels defected en masse and took up arms
against the government, calling themselves the M23 movement.
With the help of the Force Intervention Brigade – the first UN
peacekeeping force in history with a strong offensive mandate –
FARDC eventually defeated the rebels in October 2013, but the
counterinsurgency highlighted strong turf wars within FARDC which
frequently hampered operational effectiveness.
Speculation remains that one of the FARDC's most competent officers,
Col. Mamadou Ndala, was assassinated by rival commanders during the
counterinsurgency, highlighting the mistrust that permeates FARDC's
Wary of another rebellion, Kabila ordered a significant reshuffle of
FARDC in October 2014. The reshuffle is unlikely, however, to have
significantly tightened the president's grip on the fractious
military. Many of those who benefited from the reshuffle were former
rebel commanders who had remained loyal to FARDC during the M23
rebellion. But these commanders sided with government not because
they felt any strong allegiance to Kabila, but rather because the
M23's grievances were very specific to former CNDP combatants.
In the reshuffle, some of Kabila's fellow Katangans also secured top
commands. Such moves exacerbate the debilitating patronage which
lies at the core of FARDC's institutional weakness. Members of the
Republican Guard reportedly even threatened to stage a coup out of
disapproval of their new commander, forcing the president to hastily
reassign the general in question.
Who can restore order?
This week's events suggest that Kabila will not be able to maintain
the status quo through half-hearted "dialogue". This being the case,
we can expect the opposition to seek to resolve matters on the
streets through protests of a more frequent, widespread, and violent
nature than the country has heretofore experienced.
Regardless of whether Kabila can fully trust the Republican Guard
(and history from Caligula to Kabila's late father teaches us not to
depend too heavily on bodyguards), the force would be too small to
confront a nationwide crisis, even with support from the police and
ANR. Indeed, reports indicate that in the latest round of clashes,
protestors managed to overwhelm police barricades, killing two
Kabila may thus be left with little choice but to call on the armed
forces. Such a deployment is liable to make matters worse for
everyone. Given the abysmal record of human rights abuses by FARDC
in the eastern Congo, such a deployment would almost inevitably lead
to wanton bloodshed. Given the fractious state of the Congolese
military, it could also backfire on Kabila's regime itself.