A Call To All Congolese And Friends Of The Congo


A Call to All Congolese and Friends of the Congo
By George Bakaly

“If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State. ”
Joseph Goebbels

This is a call to all Congolese and friends of the Congo to resist and speak out against the new Congolese institutions. The budget of the Democratic Republic of Congo is financed by the “international community” to the tune of 57% , so I urge those who support the Congolese people to write to their representatives and ask that this issue be clarified. At the moment, your taxes are used to pay the band of brigands that have bled the DRC in the past 3 years. Consider the following: When the belligerents of what came to be known as “Africa’s First World War” met in Pretoria to bring an end to the war, they claimed that their logistical needs, funded by you, the Western Tax-Payer, also known as the “international community”, included 107 villas and 405 luxury cars.

In 2004, President Joseph Kabila went a full 100% over-budget as his office used 15.8 billion Congolese Francs or $37,176,470 rather than the 7.9 billion Francs allocated. Zahidi N’Goma, the Vice President in charge of Culture and Social Affairs (welfare), also used double the amount allocated, 1.56 billion Francs or $ 3,670,588. Last but not least, Mwana-Congo (“Congo’s son”) himself, Jean Pierre Bemba, the Vice President in charge of Economy and Finance, went 600% over his 5 billion Francs budget, meaning he used 30 billion Francs, $ 70,588, 235. In the meantime, the funds allocated for health, welfare, and agriculture (52% of economic activity ) respectively amount to 12.5%, 16.6%, and 6.25% of those allocated to the Presidency. Meanwhile, public school teachers are yet to receive the $100 raise that would multiply their wages tenfold and the average Congolese earns just under $120 a year , 55% of the population does not have access to safe drinking water , only 21% of the population is using adequate sanitation facilities , 50% of the population has no access to drugs , in a country of more than 60,000,000 inhabitants there are only 5,827 physicians , and per capita health expenditure by the government is a mere $4 or 0.0016% of the monthly salary ($2500) the representative of the people have given themselves. The worst part is that the “international community” is aware of this, yet it continues to finance these modern day Black-Slavers with no strings attached. The second round of the presidential election scheduled for October 29th and the legislative elections have given legitimacy to those who have ruined the Congo and members of the “international community” are patting themselves on the back and congratulating each other on the magnificent success of the elections. Here is a brief composite of the two candidates vying for the presidency.

1) Joseph Kabila: Not much is known about the incumbent. Some in Kinshasa even doubt that he is the son of his predecessor, the slain dictator Laurent Kabila. However, it is clear that his leadership has been inefficient. As the President of the transition, he ought to be the first person responsible for its failure, yet some in the West are under the impression that he is “the hope of Congo” and he has proved very successful in Eastern Congo where he has won 98.8% of the vote in some districts. His lack of formal education was one of his biggest weaknesses but the chairman of his Parti du Peuple pour la Reconstruction et la Démocratie (People’s Party for Reconstruction and Democracy-PPRD), Vital Kamehre, found the solution to the problem: in a political meeting, he announced that Joseph Kabila has a BA in international law from Washington International University. According to the same source, Condoleezza Rice herself has certified the degree! Thus Joseph has a degree that does not exist from a phantom university certified by the US secretary of State. On August 20th, troops loyal to Kabila assailed the private residence of Jean Pierre Bemba, his rival for the second round. They fired mortars and other rockets at his opponent’s house who at the time was entertaining ambassadors from 16 countries including the US, Belgium, France, South Africa and the UK. At least 23 people died as a result of the ensuing scuffle. He has retained a praetorian guard of 15,000 men; that is in direct violation of the oath he took as president of the transition to create a single army command. Not one but two of his closest allies have been accused of corruption by the UN : Jean Charles Okoto, also involved in a conspiracy to kidnap viscount Etienne Davignon, a member of the Trilateral Commission investigating money laundering in the Congo , and General Kalume. A third advisor, Evariste Boshab, had to resign following a Congressional enquiry, which found him guilty of attempting to defraud the state of $ 28 million. Yet Kabila is favorite to win the elections.

2) Jean Pierre Bemba: The self-proclaimed “Mwana-Congo”. For some reason, he is popular in Kinshasa. He has lead a campaign bordering on xenophobia (doubts about Kabila’s nationality) reminiscent of Laurent Gbagbo in Cote d’Ivoire. Jean Pierre Bemba has allied himself with another unsavory character, Honoré Ngbanda, a.k.a. Terminator . Together they have come up with the vague concept of “Congolité” which basically exclude those whom Bemba and Ngbanda see as not being Congolese enough. Bemba has used his media empire (he owns a host of TV stations across the Congo) to spread his message of hate. The first case brought to the International Criminal Court (ICC) by the International Federation of Human Rights (Fidh) concerned activities by Bemba’s troops in neighboring Central African Republic . Bemba has been accused of gross violations of basic human rights. There are also claims that fighters for Bemba’s movement, the Mouvement pour la Libération du Congo (MLC), are guilty of cannibalism, as it appear they fed on pygmies . Of course, Bemba has denied all claims but the mere fact that they exist is an indication of who the man is. During the war, Bemba was the client of Uganda, a country which the International Court of Justice (ICJ) has ordered to pay damages to Congo for its illegal occupation. “By the conduct of its armed forces, which committed acts of killing, torture, and other forms of inhumane treatment of the Congolese civilian population ... [Uganda] violated its obligations under international human rights law,” Shi Jiuyong, President of the 17-member court based at The Hague, said in the judgment. It said Ugandan forces deployed child soldiers, stirred ethnic tension, and stole natural resources. Close associates of Bemba were also named by the UN panel on the plunder of the Congo cited above.

Both candidates are responsible for what many have seen as the worst case of sexual violence in conflicts throughout the world today. In the words of UN humanitarian chief Jan Egeland, “Sexual abuse has become a cancer in Congolese society that seems to be out of control....Military and civilian authorities are still virtually unaccountable for crimes against civilians.” Both candidates actively took part in a war that has claimed the lives of at least 4,000,000 Congolese, the highest toll in any conflict since World War II. Yet the international community is about to rubber-stamp the authority of one of these two murderers under the veil of democratic elections. Arguments will be made that the Congolese people have chosen their leaders freely for the first time in more than four decades and that these elections have been a success and a testimony to the will of the “Free World” to spread democracy across the globe.

The reality is much starker for whatever your views are on these elections you must admit that structural factors favored these war-criminals vis-à-vis candidates for true change. It is bewildering to think that the International Community really believed that those who had forced it to intervene in the Congo (i.e. Kabila, Bemba et all.) were honest and capable enough to create a system, the use of political violence and impunity, that had enabled them to amass wealth and power. It would have been much wiser to follow the precedent set in Liberia where a non-belligerent technocrat was asked to organize elections in which he did not stand; the result was a peaceful election as opposed to the coronation of a warlord. Despite claims to the contrary, Congolese people regarded these elections with much antipathy; a quick view of some key stats attest to that: Out of a population of 62,660,551, about half or 31,330, 225 were eligible to vote. Out of those, around 25,700,000 registered that is 82%. A third of those who did register did not bother to vote. This means that at the end roughly 17,000,000 people took part; that represents a turnout of 54.2%, which is much lower than the 70% turnout that most media outlets have raved about, factor in the fact that all sides pumped up their numbers (e.g. in some quarters in the war ravaged eastern parts of the country voter turnout was an incredible 98.8% despite the insecurity and the millions of displaced. Somehow, voters managed to brave the different militias roaming the land and the distance to go and vote ) and you get an idea of the true threshold of participation. In the end, the international community told a big lie: the elections in Congo had been successful. This was necessary because they had to justify the billions spent there during the transition. Unfortunately for them, the consequences of their lie quickly became apparent as Bemba and Kabila’s camp fought each other for three days in the streets of Kinshasa, even though both will contest the second round, proving once again their inability to lead. Today, the only hope for real change rests with the Congolese people and those who stand with them; once again they must resist both the corrupt local elites and the international plunderers behind them.
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Notes:
1. Report from the Netherlands Institute of Southern Africa (NIZA) : “L’État contre le Peuple” :
http://www.niza.nl/docs/200606301309211840.pdf
2. ibid
3. ibid
4. CIA World-fact-book:
https://www.cia.gov/cia/publications/factbook/index.html
5. “RDC. Le budget 2005 et ses contradictions” ; Le Phare, 29/08/2005
6 . The average monthly salary for a primary school teacher is $10 that of a high-school teacher is $15 : “Éducation-RD Congo : L'enseignement en panne, faute de soutien de l'État” ; Juakali Kambale :
http://www.ipsnews.net/fr/_note.asp?idnews=2556
7. World Bank :
http://devdata.worldbank.org/wdi2005/index2.htm
8 . ibid.
9 . World Health Organization :
http://www.who.int/nha/country/cod/en/
10 . ibid
11 . ibid
12. ibid
13. According to the World Bank, Congo received 1,815,000,000 in aid in 2004. The authorities have claimed that putting conditions on the aid amounts to subverting the sovereignty of the Congolese people, according to NIZA China and Russia have supported this stance in the UN security council
14. EU commissioner for cooperation and development, Louis Michel, in a televised interview with the RTBF, 12/08/2006
15. Kabila’s website:
http://www.presidentjosephkabila.net/apropos_quiestjk.shtml
16. “Heavy gunfire erupts in Kinshasa in third day of fighting, EU sends in reinforcements”: USA Today, 22/08/2006.:
http://www.usatoday.com/news/world/2006-08-22-
congo_x.htm?csp=34
17. The full report is available online at: www.un.org
18. “Belgolaise : Nouvelle arestation” : DH Net :
http://www.dhnet.be/dhinfos/article.phtml?id=103791
19. NIZA : “L’État contre le Peuple”
20. Ngbanda got the name after he gave the order to suppress a march by priest as Mobutu’s national security advisor.
21. You can visit Ngbanda’s website at
http://www.aparecordc.org/forum/portal.php?pid=147
22. Crimes de Guerre en République Centrafricaine "Quand les éléphants se battent, c’est l’herbe qui souffre" :
www.fidh.org/article.php3?id_article=1091
23. “U.N. Says Congo Rebels Carried Out Cannibalism and Rapes” : January 16, 2003, Thursday
(AP); Foreign Desk:
genocidewatch.org/CongocannibalismrapesJanuary16.htm
24. guardian.co.uk/uganda/Story/0,2763,1671176,00.html
25. http://www.crimesofwar.org/africa-
mag/afr_01_porteos.html
26. for more information visit: http://www.cei-
rdc.cd/clcr/index.html