Ambassador Mwana Mawampanga speaks on DRC elections

Ambassador Mwana Mawampanga speaks on DRC elections
January 25 15:19 2019
By Judith Kajuma

Democratic Republic of Congo’s (DRC) recent general elections, were they a sign of maturity in the people of DRC or another case of failed democracy in Africa?

The elections held in the DRC on 30 December 2018 were to determine a successor for the country’s former President Joseph Kabila as well for the 500 seats for the National Assembly and 750 provincial council seats.

Martin Fayulu opposition candidate claimed he was robbed of his rightful votes blaming the outgoing President Joseph Kabila for helping Tshisekedi to win by rigging the elections. The constitutional court however, confirmed Felix Tshisekedi Presidential win and was inaugurated on January 24 in the capital Kinshasa.

Below is the interview between The Diplomat Magazine (TDM) and DRC Ambassador to Zimbabwe Mwana Nanga Mawampanga (MM) giving his opinion concerning election results in his country.

TDM:  Congratulations Your Excellency for holding successful democratic election. How did the DRC manage that?

MM:  We managed that by holding free, fair and transparency elections and respecting the will of the people.

TDM: Your opinion on why President Kabila didn’t field an election candidate but instead supported an opposition candidate, Emmanuel Shadary

MM: Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary is not an opposition candidate, he is in fact the former interior Minister and was the appointed candidate by President Kabila,

TDM: Some international countries are saying the election was rigged in favour of Tshisekedi, why would the government rig in favour of an independent candidate not its preferred one.

MM: The ruling party had its candidate, they supported him and they put money, but the people did not choose him and in a democracy organised election, you have to accept the will of the people. That is what President Kabila has done. It happened in Ghana when Jerry Rawlins organised his first democratic election, his party did not win, his party lost but after two terms, they came back to power, that is what democracy is. You do not organise the election and fake the results to favour your candidate, that is not true democracy. President Kabila is a true democrat he organised an election, his candidate did not win and bows to the will of the people, he should be commended.

TDM: The people of DRC have spoken through the election and Tshisekedi is the incoming president. Do you see him uniting Congolese and addressing DRC challenges?

MM: I think what is going to happen after this election is similar to what happened in Zimbabwe 2008-2009. Even though Felix Tshisekedi won the presidency, but he will not have majority in the two chambers of parliament, so he has no choice but to work with all the forces including the actual ruling coalition in order to govern the country and I think that is the best thing for the country in the sense that everybody has to put the will of the people in front of all the selfish interests. Look what is happening in the United States, when Trump wants to do things which are not for the interest of the American people, the Democrats say no.

TDM: A number of African countries are holding elections this year, your advice to them.

MM: My advice to those who are holding elections, is that, respect the will of your people. Even if the worse comes to worst that you are voted out, whether you are in the ruling party or outside, there is a role that each and every one of us can play. I always go back to the example of the United States of America, Trump is a Republican but the Democrats have control in states like California and New York, which are big states and therefore they do things there which are not in agreement with Trump but for the good of the American people. So it’s time for the African leadership to understand that you can learn one thing even if you are in your position and today it’s very difficult to have a country with a president that doesn’t even control not even a small town especially if you are the ruling party in which you lose or win maybe a few governor seats or a few mayoral seats, go and keep working for your people and ten when the next election comes, you can be elected again. So my advice is let your people make their choice freely and respect that choice come what may.

TDM: Moving away from the elections, you have been in Zimbabwe for a very long time, is Zimbabwe moving forward or the situation is getting worse?

MM: To tell you the truth, since I came here, Zimbabwe has gone through ups and downs and as we sit right here as we speak, Zimbabwe is moving forward. Now the real problem that Zimbabwe has, is on the exchange rate market, the foreign currency market. The government inherited an institution where the RTGs, the bond notes were par to the US$. That was a wrong recipe and it started from the time when the MDC had the Minister of Finance, the mistake was made at that moment when they dumped the Zimbabwe dollar they shouldn’t have done that. What they should have done at that time was to stabilize the Zim$ but keep it in circulation. In fact, the people of Zimbabwe kept some of the money for public transport, but because the opposition, like most African opposition, they cater to outside interest they thought that it was better for them to dollarize the economy which was a huge mistake because right now you pay the U.S treasury everyday you use that dollar which you did not have to. If you had kept your Zim$, it would have depreciated but could have stabilised it. Today, Zimbabwe has a currency, you may not like it but it’s the plain truth and that currency is the bond notes and RTGs. They have separated the forex accounts and local and that they have not gone far enough. As a former minister of finance of a friendly country, my advice to your government is just liberalise everything, the market will give you the right rate for your currency and let the market play their role and as we speak today, its already trading between three and half to the US$. You lose some of the value but it’s better than to go back like in 2009, you lost everything that was in Zimbabwe, we don’t want a repeat of that. They will still come to salvage some of that value and they take that measure today, let the market sort it out. That is my advice.

TDM: Any burning issues you may want to share with fellow African countries?

MM: I think you have heard that some troops were stationed in Gabon in anticipation for what will happen in DRC. Those troops were not sent for the good of the African people. As a matter of fact, when they arrived there was a coup attempt in Garbon that shows you that those troops were not coming for help and every progressive African country should open their eyes and look what is happening in DRC because they are not only targeting DRC but the entire African content. So we need to work hand in hand to preserve our sovereignty, to preserve our natural resources so that they can be really exploited to the benefit of our African people.

Meanwhile the Congolese opposition leader, Martin Fayulu, has slammed African leaders who have congratulated winner of the contentious December 30, 2018 polls.

According to him, the presidents by their actions are encouraging electoral fraud, falsehood and forgery. He also said their actions were a disrespect to the sovereign will of the people.

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