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DRC 2023 ELECTION: A Stable, Secure & Prosperous Congo 🇨🇩 Is Possible, Says Moise Katumbi

Hours after an end to a grueling journey to place his name on the ballot for the Democratic Republic of Congo elections set for December 20, 2023, opposition Ensemble pour la RĂ©publique leader Moise Katumbi has penned a passionate message of hope that paints a bright future for his people.

Katumbi survived an attempt to be eliminated through a separatist law in parliament infamously known as the Tshiani Bill, disqualification by the CENI & invalidation by the country’s Constitutional Court.

Pressure from the general population and the international community has forced the Congolese legislature, executive & judiciary to stay clear of injustice in this case.

WE PUBLISH KATUMBI’S MESSAGE SHORTLY AFTER THE CONSTITUTIONAL COURT THREW OUT AN ATTEMPT TO INVALIDATE HIS CANDIDATURE

The article was originally published by AfricanArguments.Org

By Moise Katumbi

Destabilised by the global scramble for its vast mineral riches, the forthcoming election could trigger the nation’s transformation to prosperity – but only if it is conducted fairly.

The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is often viewed through the lens of the challenges it faces. War in the east, arbitrary detentions of journalists, and the unrelenting persecution of opposition figures have all fuelled recent negative headlines, as we move closer to presidential and parliamentary elections scheduled for December 20, 2023.

While we can spend our time rehashing all that is wrong with the current situation, listing the many frustrations of the Congolese citizens, and detailing recent human rights violations, it is equally important to talk about how we can still turn things around and transform the DRC so that it can be defined by its opportunities and not by its challenges.

The DRC is the fourth most densely populated country in Africa; its more than 100 million citizens have a median age of just 16. We have nearly 80 million hectares of arable land, and the country is rich in minerals that are vital for the green energy transition. Almost half of the world’s known supply of cobalt, a by-product of copper production and a vital ingredient of battery production is found in the DRC. Lithium, too, is in abundance beneath the Congolese soil, as is tantalum (needed for smartphones and computers), diamond, gold, and tin. As a result, the country’s prospects following the elections, not only matter to its citizens, who deserve far better lives, but also stand to have a real impact on the global efforts in tackling climate change.

Having filed my candidacy for the upcoming presidential elections, my task between now and election day is to explain how we can capitalise on these assets and, in so doing, transform the lives of our people, inspiring hope in a change that is possible if we ensure proper scrutiny of the vote and convince citizens to come out in huge numbers on December 20.

While touring the country from Kongolo to Lukolela in recent weeks, we witnessed a strong desire for change among citizens. The citizens of the DRC are angry about the current situation and frustrated by the failure of the government to deliver on its promises. But they are not ready to give up on their dreams. They know the potential that is ours, as a country and as a people.

The upcoming elections will not be without challenges. Whilst President Tshisekedi claims to support a free and open democratic process, the government in Kinshasa has already shown its hand. The voter registration process has been characterized by mismanagement, incompetence, and malpractice. There have been reports that citizens were harassed and intimidated by security forces at registration centres.

Moreover, the external audit of the electoral roll was flawed from the start. Five officials were contracted by the commission to undertake the audit, all reportedly close associates of the head of the electoral commission. The team was given just five days to audit the entire register, a fifth of the time that was required by a much larger group during the 2018 elections.

Despite all this, we believe that change is possible. The government is clearly concerned about the very real prospect of change, indicated by the recent attempts to silence media and opposition voices.

There is a huge task at hand for any incoming administration, but we are undaunted by the prospect. After all, I have seen first-hand how much can be achieved when you push back against corruption, and work in partnership with the people. During my time as Governor of Katanga, between 2007 and 2015, we were able to increase the share of the province’s population with access to clean drinking water from 3% to 67%; while the number of children attending school went from 400,000 to 7 million, including a tripling of the number of girls in school. We were also able to create jobs, and at the same time strengthen workers’ rights. Furthermore, revenues increased from $100 million to more than $1.5 billion, meaning, we were then able to re-invest in the province and to rebuild vital infrastructure. By offering land and tax breaks to farmers, we encouraged local production, and as a result, boosted food security and reduced reliance on imports.

As Ensemble pour la République, we are setting our vision for the country – a stable, secure, and prosperous DRC for all. Ending war in the east must be a priority. People are dying and thousands upon thousands have been displaced as the M23 thrives on the ruins of the Congolese state. Turning the situation around will require strong leadership and a commitment to invest more in our defence sector. We need to build a professional army that is well equipped and more respectful of human rights. Only by doing this can we restore peace and put an end to external aggressions.

Looking across the region and beyond, the trend of military coups is deeply worrisome. The answer to our problems lies in more democracy, not less. That is why institutional transformation is at the heart of what we are proposing. Only by consolidating the state, promoting democracy and peace, and fighting corruption, can we lay the foundations for everything else we want to achieve and offer a better life to the Congolese people. To restore faith in democracy, we will invest in and rehabilitate the judiciary, to ensure its independence and impartiality.

In our manifesto that will be launched in the coming weeks, we are detailing our action plan for a large-scale transformation, encompassing institutional, economic, and social factors. Our plan carries not only the promises, but also the solutions to restore stability and security, to grow our economy by creating jobs, supporting small business and reducing the cost of living, to improve the quality of public service delivery, including full access to education and healthcare.

We have set specific, realistic, and measurable targets across indicators, ranging from growth and inflation to poverty and maternal mortality rates, by which we can be held accountable in the coming months and years. We have determined and assigned costs to each and every one of our proposals to ensure that they remain grounded in reality.

The positive impacts of a stable, secure, and prosperous DRC will be felt far beyond our borders. Under our plan, the DRC will play a key role in the global green energy transition, creating jobs and generating revenues for our people, as well as protecting and preserving the Congo rainforest – the second largest in the world after the Amazon.

The alternative is a continued deterioration of the security climate. This will further destabilize the region, causing increased levels of violence, uncontrollable spikes of diseases, unbearable poverty, and insurmountable numbers of human rights violations. Armed groups and mercenaries will proliferate, and thousands more, or even millions of citizens will be displaced. Free and fair elections on December 20 are essential if we are to avoid going down this destructive path.

As we prepare for the official start of the electoral campaign, we will continue to push for free and fair elections. We will continue to call for the release of those who were arbitrarily detained, and we will continue to demand justice for the victims of human rights violations. However, we will also focus our energies on making the case for a brighter future for our country. The current state of things must not distract us from the possibilities and the potential available to us. A stable, secure, and prosperous DRC is still within our grasp.

CREDIT: African Argument

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