It was two years ago today, the investment of Felix Tshisekedi in the Democratic Republic of Congo, son of the historic opponent, to the President of the Republic and his images of acknowledgments with his predecessor Joseph Kabila, that he had formed a coalition. Two years later, nothing goes well between the two men. Supporters of President Tshisekedi are threatening to vote a no-confidence vote against the coalition government led by pro-Kabila, Sylvestre Ilunga. To talk about it, Nicolas Kazadi, Tour Ambassador and close to President Félix Tshisekedi is our guest.
Journalist: Two years after the power of President Félix Tshisekedi, do you think the break with his predecessor Joseph Kabila is over?
Nicolas Kazadi : if you talk about the breach in the framework of the FCC-Cach agreement, it is clearly consumed …
But you do not yet have control over the office of the National Assembly, it is still a temporary office that is still the Ilunga government …
You are aware that there is an amazing process going on and that the situation is quite complex because it is the same actors that are put together again and that we find, but within the framework of a new vision, of a new approach. This new group, extended to others who were not in the majority, shows that we are simply giving the opportunity to give the political class a national boost to put things right. There will always be a minority of people who refuse to join the holy union for the nation, and that is good for democracy. But they are clearly in the minority, and we certainly find among them those who made it impossible for the FCC-Cach coalition to function.
But will they be full allies, or will they ultimately have to be soldiers who are in line with the vision of the head of state?
No, the head of state was lightning; he hammered on October 23 and December 6 the framework in which he inscribed his action, and it was detailed enough to allow the political class to follow full knowledge of the matter. He outlined the key elements that we could work on in the next period, we can not be clearer than that.
In the President’s last speech, there was no reference to electoral reforms. Does not this crucial question behind the political crisis between Cach and the FCC disappear?
Absolutely not ! The President had just spoken about it a few days before (December 6), he had said it in his speech marking the end of the consultations. He mentioned the census, which must be carried out as soon as possible. Since (19) 84 there have been no more censuses in this country. He mentioned identification: it has been over thirty years since we have issued identity cards to citizens of this country, and then he mentioned election registration.
These are three important times that will make the next election much safer, much more reliable. And then there are the more political issues such as the electoral law and the voting methods, which will be debated by the deputies. But even there he set the stage by wishing that there was a stronger democracy with a clearer majority. And the fact that the election law does not promote small parties does not promote the ethnicisation of politics.
Your former FCC allies accuse you of disrespecting democracy, disrespecting the rule of law, and violating all of these rules to seize power. What do you answer?
But who are you talking about? We are talking about more than 300 deputies, almost 400 who have joined the Holy Union for Nation. Who exactly are you talking about?
Joseph Kabilas FCC! In this case, his supporters clearly say that in order to succeed in dismissing Prime Minister Sylvestre Ilunga and his government, the procedure used will be illegal. The part of what is done in the National Assembly by the senior office, the temporary office, is illegal.
It is normal for them to play their part in the opposition. What do you want us to say? Let them go to court to complain about what they consider illegal. But what is certain is that the overwhelming majority of the political class and public opinion are behind the Holy Union for Nation and the new agreement marked by the head of state.
How do you hope to make something new with the old? As you yourself say, will there be leaders of the old regime who will be retrained in this holy union, that at the level of the security forces there have been no major changes, and that there are still generals accused of violations? How do you hope to make the change without changing the actors who have made Congo history in the last thirty years.
Well, we have to learn from past experiences. Remember this sweeping that took place in (19) 97 at the end of the Mobutu regime. We thought we had to sweep everyone away and start over, and we saw the results … The most important thing, and that’s the strength of President Tshisekedi’s action, is to get people to change themselves, so that we change together. It is a complex, very strong exercise that requires strong leadership. And I think so far he is doing very well.
I can give you some examples. Such as the police. It is the same police that are chasing the fighters (editor’s note: members of the UDPS, the current presidential party), the activists from the political parties who fought for democracy and the election until 2018, but today it is clear at this level, that this is bad practice, which has completely disappeared.
This is not entirely the view of human rights organizations, whether it is for journalists, activists, dissenting voices. They note that over the last year there has been rather a restriction of the political space, that it is also due to the presidency and in particular the national intelligence agency.
Madam, we start from decades of bad practice. We will not change people completely in a few months or a few years. But what is clear is that there is a significant change. I gave you the example of the police. There is justice, which is not yet perfect, but which today understood because of the political leadership that it was necessary to orient oneself differently, and this practice and its practice is evolving.
Where are we in negotiations with the International Monetary Fund? The President hoped that a program agreement was signed at the end of last year, and today we have the impression that things are not moving forward.
No, no, it’s progressing. There is a political process going on … and that does not allow us to move forward at the desired pace in terms of discussions with the International Monetary Fund. The dialogue is underway; next week there will already be some action in anticipation of an IMF mission to follow very soon. And these things will no doubt accelerate with the new government. Because the decision has been made to continue with the IMF (and) to allow the country to continue to benefit from good cooperation with international financial institutions and donors. You should know that between February 2019 and today, the amounts of aid we have received are unprecedented in the history of this country.
These donors have been very present during the first six months of last year, much less in the last six months, particularly the IMF and the World Bank. This is because they also set conditions for transparency, which are not yet met at all levels. There is some progress in terms of transparency, but not everywhere.
No, we are making progress in terms of transparency. But it is clear that not everything is perfect yet. But that did not stop the IMF and the World Bank from providing special assistance to help the country cope with Covid. Even the African Development Bank. However, there were a few incidents in connection with the fight against corruption with regard to the control of teachers’ salaries through Secope (service for control and remuneration of teachers, editor’s note) and this slowed down some disbursements, including the World Bank. But this is only normal, and it shows that we remain concerned about these corruption issues.
For the fight against corruption, a year ago we started talking about embezzlement as part of the head of state’s 100-day program. A year later, we realize that most of the people arrested in connection with these proceedings have been released, with the exception of the former chief of staff of the president, Vital Kamerhe, and the Lebanese businessman Samy Jammal.
No, you’re making a caricature! There are people who have been acquitted in this case. And justice, that is to charge and discharge. There are others who have been convicted and then there are new elements that have led to their release. The rest are still imprisoned and we know we are coming a long way in a difficult context. We must learn to trust and help justice to do well and calmly. When you put too much emotion into it, you interfere in proper justice.
Because there are investigations, for example, by the General Inspectorate of Finance, which are subject to procedures, others do not. How do you explain that there are files that go very fast and others that are ultimately almost forgotten.
But madam, even in your own country, there are cases concerning politicians dating back ten years, fifteen years ago, whose trials have not even started yet …
Why are businessmen like the Israeli Dan Gertler, the Indian Harish Jagtani not subject to a procedure when there have been a lot of redundancies against them?
Listen, give time to time. These are sensitive topics that need to be taken seriously with evidence, and they should not be treated in line with rumors and newspaper headlines. So let time be another, we are in a great recovery effort and we have just come from a situation where corruption was rampant. So should we stop everything, put everyone in jail and stop working? No, you have to put things in order and attack them one after the other according to their priority, their effect. It takes a lot of wisdom and skill to do all this. You need people to follow the files, there are not many. And most of all, you need well-collected files.
If you do not receive international assistance and especially from the IMF and the World Bank in the coming months, do you think the economic situation can hold up in the DRC, especially when we see that we are two weeks away from international reserves of exchange?
It is true that the situation is difficult, not only for the DRC, but for the whole planet. Fortunately, international solidarity is being established and that international financial institutions such as the Monetary Fund have understood this well. There are discussions at several levels, including at the G20 level of debt relief. But it is true that we need to overcome the Covid crisis, definitely revive our productive sector and, above all, continue to mobilize taxes.
Our big challenge is there. We have a major failure in terms of tax mobilization and this is our biggest challenge in the coming period. But we have every reason to be positive, because this dialogue we have with the IMF, the World Bank and others allows us to work on our public finances and the reform of our public finances and attract more investors. We will go even further in this direction.