DR Congo 2011 Elections: 7 Electoral Gaps and How to Close Them

by admin on May 26, 2011


Seven gaps remain and require careful attention as soon as possible. These gaps can be compared to cracks in the wall of a house. Whether large or small, these cracks or fault lines can bring down the whole house and endanger the lives of those inside.

After being elected as the chairman of the Congolese National Electoral Commission, Rev. Mulunda Daniel has been constructing an inclusive consultative network at both national and international levels in an effort to strengthen the possibility of success for the elections scheduled for November 2011.

These fault lines can be detected within the following categories: Enthusiasm, Awareness, Leadership, Skills, Transparent Accountability, Gender Equality and Funding. Here with reasons why they must be given careful consideration.

1. Enthusiasm:

Enthusiastic participation in the elections of 2006 can be attributed to several factors. Most Congolese were unhappy with the on-going war; they were keen that the war come to an end and they were concerned that the complex post-war transition period be orderly, thus avoiding the disintegration of the whole country. Given these popular concerns, elections offered the only viable exit strategy. The election process did in fact identify new leadership, but unfortunately the newly elected leadership did not deliver the services expected of them. That missed opportunity has dampened the enthusiasm of the voting public.

2. Awareness
Physical and economic survival constitutes the primary concern of the Congolese electorate. Elections become important or interesting to the electorate to the extent that basic survival needs are catered for. If elections have no positive impact on the survival capacity of the general populace, they serve only to emphasize the disconnect between the government and the people. Most potential voters understand very little about the purpose of elections. Awareness among the general public with regard to the function and potential benefits of elections must raised.

3. Leadership.
Since his appointment to the position of Electoral Commission chairman, Rev. Daniel Mulunda has been meeting key politicians and civil society leaders, but it is not apparent that those in power and those in the opposition are now in conversation with members of the civil society. Given the expectation that the number of voters in 2011 will be larger than in 2006, it becomes obvious that the necessary leadership skills will need to be enhanced accordingly.

4. Skills.

This year the electoral commission is expecting 31 million Congolese voters to participate in the elections compared to 25 million in 2006. Such an increase in numbers will require attention to detail, beginning with data recording to data transmission to data publication. Few Congolese have acquired the computer skills commensurate with such an undertaking. If technology for the exercise is not mastered, it can hardly be expected that accountability and transparency will be achieved.

5. Accountability and Transparency.

In January of this year President Kabila together with his political majority decided to reduce the two presidential elections run-offs to one. This politically calculated move raised suspicions with regard to his real intention for the coming elections. Rev. Mulunda’s family ties with the President do not enhance the public’s expectation for free and fair elections. Even the best electronic transmission of electoral data will not allay the fears of a suspicious public.

6. Gender Equality in Planning and Delivery.

One third of the Congolese electorate are women and most of them live in rural areas of the country. They are uneducated and little has been done either by the government or the opposition to improve their situations. Compared to their male counterparts, they know very little about the electoral process. Gender inequality in the Congo is endemic across the whole spectrum of society, including the female sector. Those with name recognition are seen everywhere, but generally women elites have done little to educate and to delegate power to others. In any case, sufficient funding is a ubiquitous problem.

7. Funding

The clock is ticking, but money is not becoming available where it is needed. Government and international donors seem not to have a sense of urgency when it comes to the electoral calendar. The total budget for the 2011 elections is around $553 million out of which only $223 million was supplied by the Congolese government and the international donors. More money has been pledged than has been delivered.

How then to close those gaps?

Enthusiasm: It’s not too late for the government to make a long awaited changes to the lives of the Congolese people mainly in paying their salaries.

Awareness: A campaign such as the one UNICEF is using everywhere for vaccination will have a quick impact as most people everywhere in Congo are used to the UNICEF’s vaccinations campaign.

Leadership: Political leaders and Civil Society activists have to be encouraged to meet and this can be done through the help of International Non Governmental Organizations with long history of working in DRC. They have leverage and can use it now.

Accountability and Transparency: we encourage Rev. Mulunda to keep engaging the Congolese leaders and their followers in a constructive dialogue which is the opportunity for him to clearly draw the line between his mission and his relation with President Kabila.

Gender Equality: The Electoral Commission has to make sure that gender equality is clearly stated in the process of hiring and has to encourage, through the media, more women to apply.

Funding: Donors have to be reassured that the Congolese parliament is seriously committed to follow the electoral calendar they agreed upon.


Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: