The long-awaited elections in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) have come and gone, and a new president has now been sworn-in onto the throne in Kinshasa.
We commend the Congolese for conducting the polls in a peaceful manner.
Now that President Felix Tshisekedi has taken oath of office, we expect the people of the DRC to find each other and move the nation forward. The DRC has borne the brunt of armed conflicts on the continent over the past decades and it is our hope that a new era beckons and that lasting peace will now prevail.
While in any election there are victors and losers, we expect the vanquished to accept the results as losing the poll does not mean the end of the world. The winners must be magnanimous in victory and there should be no room for vindictiveness.
We, therefore, expect President Tshisekedi to take on the responsibility of rebuilding and uniting his country. A united, peaceful and prosperous DRC is not only good for the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region, but also the entire African continent. We believe with peace in the DRC, the Congolese will be able to concentrate on exploiting the abundant natural resources in that country and uplift their standards of living. There should be no room for divisive former colonisers and other such meddlesome European or American countries, to divide the people of the DRC.
We applaud the observer missions from SADC and the African Union (AU) for giving the elections a clean bill of health. The SADC Electoral Mission described the elections as having been “relatively well managed and the electoral process unfolded relatively well,” while a team from the AU said the vote took place “overally in a peaceful and serene climate”.
The AU observer mission aptly said the polls represented “a decisive step in the consolidation of democracy, peace and stability” in Congo. Although both the SADC and AU observers noted logistical problems, including polling stations, which opened as much as five hours late, and the late arrival of electoral equipment, we believe these are areas that the country’s Independent National Electoral Commission (CENI) must work on improving. Granted, no election is perfect and more so for a vast country like the DRC, which has been plundered by war and diseases for years.
Thus, we urge CENI to take note of the SADC and AU electoral observer missions’ preliminary findings and take on board recommendations, as this will further strengthen the country’s democratic processes going into the future.
We urge political parties that lost to accept the defeat with humility, go back to the drawing board to see where they got it wrong, and plan for the next polls. There certainly must be no room for hate speech, disparaging the victors and the electoral commission and inciting supporters to go onto the streets. The DRC has seen enough war and conflict and now is the time to rebuild the country.
The end of the elections period should signal serious work that needs to be done to move the nation forward and bring it up-to-date with the community of nations in the SADC region and elsewhere across the continent, in terms of economic development.
The DRC, despite having under its soil almost all the minerals found on this planet, has undergone decades of underdevelopment, thanks to the reign of King Leopold III of Belgium, who took it as his private venture and perpetrated numerous atrocities and years of plunder and pillage under Mobutu Sese Seko. Added to that are meddlesome neighbours, who have destabilised the country by sponsoring wars and conflict while siphoning the Congo's resources.
We believe the people of DRC have had enough of these conflicts and should be given the chance to chart their own paths towards development.