Democratic Rep. of Congo: Can the post-electoral rage out of the Country Lead to a Congolese Version of an Arab Spring Revolution

by admin on December 28, 2011

By Fidele A. Lumeya

Mobilizing the social media such as Facebook as the member of opposition living in Diaspora (many of them are member of the ethnically based political party known as the Union for Democracy and Social Progress, UDPS), has done or are doing to call for a spontaneous expression of rage outside the Congo in the hope of creating the equivalent of an Arab Spring is simply absurd. In Europe and elsewhere Congolese national symbols such as embassies has been attacked and Congolese diplomats are under threat or are being simply harassed or hiding.

According to the Nobel Prize-winning economist and Columbia University Professor, Joseph E.Stiglitz, it is difficult to initiate collective action when people within the same country are living in separate worlds.

Joseph. Kabila has been declared by the country’s Supreme Court to be the winner of the 2011 presidential electoral contest in the Democratic Republic of Congo. In the meanwhile, the Congolese Diaspora, those supporting the main Congolese opposition group, The Union for Democracy and Social Progress, UDPS and its leader Etienne Tshisekedi, have vented severe negative reaction to Kabila’s reelection. For how long can such a reaction be sustained? Will this reaction lead to something like independence that was
achieved in the ‘60s or to a democratic change such as the one experienced in the early ‘90s that created the National Sovereign Conference (CNS) or Inter-Congolese Dialogue in Sun City that produced a transitional government with Kabila as head of State and three Vice Presidents?

For historical reasons, one ethnically-based political party in the Congo cannot initiate collective action toward a movement similar to the Arab Spring revolution. The uprisings within the Arab world are triggered by deep-seated frustration and anger vis- a- vis long-standing dictatorships and motivated, variously, by democratic ideals.

If collective action in Congo is to succeed, the issues at hand must be of national interest and must be informed by the three national values of the Congo: Peace, Justice and Development. 
None of the above initiatives by an ethnically-based political party is sufficient to the purpose of triggering a revolution.
Lessons from the past? During the ‘60s it was easy for politicians of all sides to rally behind the demand for independence. The success of that collective action was informed by intrinsic moral, spiritual and ethical values and belief systems that were then translated into language demanding independence. The whole nation easily identified with that demand.

In the ‘90scollective action against Mobutu’s autocratic rule was readily mobilized. But here again, the initiative was not undertaken by a small group; it was undertaken instead by a sustained nationwide movement that brought together Civil Society groups, Unions of various kinds, opposition political parties and even some key voices from within Mobutu’s own party.

So historically speaking any political change that has happened in DR Congo has been a conjunction of many forces for change inside the country but not a disjunction as what is appening now in Europe, North America and elsewhere among the UDPS only members.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Charles Bwembya December 28, 2011 at 6:17 am

A meaningful uprising can only be achieved by inclusive masses.
Partisan uprisings are difficult to sustain unless it is made up of all political parties and groups, and also well supported by the general population. The Arab spring like in Egypt for example was a well inclusive uprising and that is why it worked.

admin January 8, 2012 at 2:27 pm

Charles You are right. Not only we want and need a well inclusive but we have to remind ourselves that the success of Forums such as the National Sovereign Conference was due to a clear shared national purpose. We are missing it.

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