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Steps New Government Must Take To Get The DRC Onto A Sounder Footing

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Steps New Government Must Take To Get The DRC Onto A Sounder Footing

 

Marta Iñiguez, Institut Barcelona Estudis Internacionals

The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has been consumed by conflict and instability over the past two decades. The state is weak while unemployment is rife and good health care and education are inaccessible for most people. The Conversation Africa asked Marta Iñiguez about the country’s troubles, and what can be done to turn the situation around.

Does the DRC have a functioning state?

The DRC has a functioning state for some sectors of the population and to undertake certain prerogatives – like the repression of dissent. But it isn’t carrying out some key roles. These include the provision of security, good health and education services, building infrastructure or defending the interests of small businesses to boost the economy.

In the past few years the security situation has deteriorated, and the state (government as well as sectors of the police, army and judiciary) has been complicit. The North-Eastern territories of Beni and Ituri, as well as the province of Kasai, have witnessed several massacres. These have led to a rise in the number of displaced people which has reached figures unseen for two decades, and a general lowering of living standards. That said, in order to fully understand conflict in the DRC, we need to take account of regional, historical and structural dynamics.

What are the signs that the government is unable to run the country?

I would not say that Joseph Kabila is unable to run the country. In fact, he’s been praised by donors and investors for his good management of the economy. For many years the country achieved an average 7% growth, though this has now slowed to just over 2%.

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But he hasn’t provided dignified living standards for the majority of the population.

According to the latest human security indicators, 90.5% of the DRC’s citizens live on under $3.10 per day. And, on average, girls only attend about 5.3 years in school, and boys 8.4.

The DRC’s main source of revenue comes from extractive industries. But its mineral riches have proved to be a double-edged sword. The money has been used to finance conflict – though minerals have not been the conflict’s main financing source nor have minerals been the main source of conflict.

In addition, most of the minerals are processed entirely elsewhere.

While this may not be surprising in the context of a post-colonial African state, which continues to be caught up in political and economic structures that come from colonisation, Kabila’s government continues to be party to conflict by engaging in proxy wars and downplaying the army. He also manages the economy for the benefit of Kabila’s own entourage, his family and particular elites.

This prevents Kabila from engaging in sustained and sincere political dialogue to solve the different layers of conflict at the regional and local levels. It also prevents him from attending to historical demands of the country’s rural poorest people and releasing his grip on power – even if this means he risks taking the country back to the verge of a full and extended conflict.

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What implications does this have for elections?

The general view is that the elections won’t be free and fair. Kabila will try to make sure that his successor, Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary, is the winner. The likelihood is that he will be.

Based on my own research, and insights from people in the country, the main international donors know that this is a likely scenario. But they would prefer to have elections than not. Also, they actually favour a Kabila successor than any of the unknowns of the opposition.

But the general sense and the indication from polls is that the population doesn’t want either Kabila or any of his successors. This sets the scene for yet another round of contested elections. Violence is already present and is likely to continue.

In the run up to elections, Kabila has got rid of his main contenders, Jean Pierre Bemba and Moise Katumbi, and has harshly repressed dissent. Many members of pro-democracy groups are now in jail, in exile or dead.

Elections will also take place with new voting machines, which are believed to have been rigged to alter results. In this climate, it’s not surprising that a main depot of the Commission Electorale Nationale Indépendante, the organ responsible for organising elections and where 29,000 machines were being kept, was set on fire. Neither is it surprising that Kinshasa’s governor suspended campaigning in city four days before elections for security reasons, blocking one of the main opposition candidates, Martin Fayulu, and leaving both the campaign and elections in limbo.

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But in the DRC everything is possible and despite this, elections might still go ahead, with or withour delay. Nevertheless, the climate is not conducive to a peaceful or free electoral journey.

What would be the top four priorities to get a functioning government?

The question is: functioning for whom? To get a functioning government for the majority of the population, the government must organise a national dialogue. This would need to establish a route map to address the basic needs of people in different regions of the country, including roots of conflict, as well as to organise free, fair and credible elections.

The government should work with donors to redirect investment to areas that would ensure dignified employment opportunities were created.

And the government’s collection of revenues should be completely overhauled to make it serve the DRC public, not private interests.

Finally, the judiciary should also be reformed and given the means to prosecute crimes at all levels – from those committed in war, to violence against women as well as those related to corruption.The Conversation

Marta Iñiguez, Research Fellow, Institut Barcelona Estudis Internacionals

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

African News

France Policies In Africa Is Creating Poverty – Italy’s Deputy PM

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France Policies In Africa Is Creating Poverty - Italy's Deputy PM

Italy`s Deputy Prime Minister Luigi Di Maio has reiterated on Monday that France’s policies in Africa were creating poverty and causing migration.  France had summoned the Italian ambassador to Paris to protest his assertions.

Di Maio told reporters, that France is one of those countries that by printing money for 14 African states, prevents their economic development and contributes to the fact that the refugees, leave and then die in the sea or arrive on western coasts.

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Di Maio was referring to the CFA Franc, a currency used in 14 west and central African nations, which is tied to the euro at a fixed exchange rate, with the peg guaranteed by France.

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He called on the European Union to “address the question of the decolonisation of Africa, accusing France of still treating a number of African countries as vassal states.

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South Africa’s President Calls For Lifting Of Sanctions On Zimbabwe

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S.African President Calls For Lifting Of Sanctions On Zimbabwe

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa has called for sanctions against Zimbabwe to be lifted. He said on Tuesday, his government was in discussions with Harare about how best to help.

He added that, Zimbabwe’s situation was a challenge for the whole of Africa and he planned to meet Zimbabwe president- Emmerson Mnangagwa.

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Meanwhile Mnangagwa has promised on Tuesday to investigate violence against civilians during protests and punish any misconduct by security forces.

The Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (ZHRC) said on Tuesday security forces instigated systematic torture of residents. It says, the level of force used on those who died or injured and supported by medical reports pointed to police brutality.

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Police say three people died during violent demonstrations last week, but human rights groups say at least a dozen were killed.

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African News

Uganda: Musicians Must Register And Obtain Licence Before They Release Songs – Govt

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Uganda: Musicians Must Register And Obtain Licence Before They Release Songs - Govt

Uganda’s government is proposing regulations for new songs. Junior Minister for Gender, Labour And Social Development, Peace Mutuuzo, said in an interview that the new regulations to govern the music and entertainment industry were already drafted and expected to be passed by cabinet by March. Adding that musicians and other artists will also have to register with the government and obtain a practising licence which can be revoked for a range of violations.

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A list of restrictions including requiring artists to submit to authorities, lyrics for songs and scripts for film and stage performances to be vetted. The minister said, content deemed to contain offensive language, to be lewd or plagiarised, will be censured. Musicians will also have to seek government permission to perform outside Uganda.

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Critics say the regulation is aimed at discouraging negative comments about the authorities who are rattled by the popularity of pop Star Bobi Wine and other critical voices in the entertainment industry.

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