More than a year since taking office, the Democratic Republic of Congo President has been unable to implement his manifesto because of disagreements with his coalition partner.
Understandably, the people of the Democratic Republic of Congo, DRC, are beginning to lose patience with their leader, President Félix Tshisekedi, since he was sworn in on January 24, 2020. The former opposition leader swept to power on a wave of high public expectations. It was the first time the vast nation endowed with abundant mineral resources would witness a peaceful democratic transfer of power since independence from Belgium on June 30, 960.
The mood in early 2019 was also expectant after years of a relentless campaign by the Roman Catholic Church, civil society groups and politicians to force President Joseph Kabila not to run for another term after 18 years in power. And so the people saw in Tshisekedi’s electoral victory – amidst allegations of massive fraud by another opposition candidate, Martin Fayulu – an opportunity to bolster democracy. Deepen the rule of law and improve their living conditions.
So far, this has not yet been the case. The President and his coalition partner – the party and allies of ex-President Joseph Kabila – are bogged down in quarrels over decision-making. This is more so as Kabila’s CACH coalition maintains a commanding majority in both houses of parliament. This crushing parliamentary majority has become Tshisekedi’s Achilles’ heel, making it nearly impossible for his FCC coalition to take major decisions. The consequences have been numerous. For example, the functioning of State institutions is blocked. As the people wait nervously and endlessly for the dividends of democracy, which are not forthcoming.
In the meantime, President Félix Tshisekedi this month began concerting with political and other stakeholders on the way out of the imbroglio. One of the proposals made to Tshisekedi by some civil society organisations was to dissolve Parliament. “We told the President that the people no longer feel represented by those in various institutions. For example, the dissolution of Parliament is inevitable,” said Christopher Ngoyi, a former political prisoner under Kabila and now Secretary General of the Civil Society.
A member of Ngoyi’s delegation to the talks said President Tshisekedi responded by saying that dissolving Parliament was the last option, given the cost of organising fresh elections and the challenges of making appointments to the electoral commission executive. “We want to calm down the situation on both sides because of the risk of it getting worse. When politics does not work out well, all other sectors of national life are also affected,” commented Dr Sengha, the leader of a medical doctors’ trade union.
An article in the journal, “The Conversation,” on March 26, 2019, predicted that the Kabila-Tshisekedi coalition was likely to hit the rocks. Titled “Why the DRC’s Latest Power-sharing Deal Will Struggle – Just Like Previous Ones,” the article said the arrangement between the President and his predecessor could be difficult to implement largely because there were no useful precedents to draw from in the country.