One week after the launch of the Campaigns for the general elections in DRCongo, things are very okay
Rapport on the ongoing Campaigns for the General Elections in the Democratic Republic of Congo: After one week of campaigns what can we get so far?
The Democratic Republic of Congo is holding her 4th general elections on December 20th, 2023 in order to elect the President, the National Members of the Parliament, the Provincial Members of the Parliament and the Local Councilors all these are elected in just one round of elections.
The President who will be elected will form his Cabinet from the party or from the collation which will have the majority of the National Members of the Parliament, while the Provincial Members of the Parliament will elect the Governor of the Provinces and the Senates, and the Councilors will elect the Mayors of towns and Administrators of the Territories. Some few innovations of these elections are mainly the introduction of the councilors but unfortunately they will be elected only in big cities. The campaigns are generally for only one month and it has already started.
Before the campaigns
Efforts were done by the Electoral Commission and the Constitutional Court to ensure the inclusion of all the concerned parties, no candidate was rejected even those rejected by the electoral commission were rehabilitated by the Constitutional Court and this was done at all levels, so this gave everyone the possibility to engage with people, before that the conditions in order to be a candidate were very simple and could favor everyone. As per now we have the first elections that has attracted the highest number of candidates at all levels, the very first elections that has saw the big participation of young people and the first elections that has been mostly inclusive. In order to ensure that the process is smooth, the Supreme Court put also on hold cases against some candidates and meetings were held between the candidates and the electoral commission. For the first time also Congolese in Diaspora in five countries will vote mainly South Africa, Belgium, France, the United States of America and Canada.
Much as we have the highest number of candidates at all levels, the quality of those wanting to be elected is still worrying, despite the high participation of young people most are generally men and only few women,
Civic Education to citizens
In a country which has a high number of people who have never gone to school, less informed and less connected to internet there was no clear civic education, the registration of the voters excluded so many people, as per now it is estimated that only around 40millions Congolese will vote but also as per now the voter’s card is already fading and people cannot recognize even their names, it is not yet clear what the Independent national Electoral Commission will do.
The campaigns started in November 19th 2023 and will end on December 19th 2023 while the elections will be held on December 20th 2023. On the very first day three Presidential Candidates started their campaigns mainly Martin Fayulu, Moise Katumbi and the current President Felix Tshisekedi, in the process Martin Fayulu stopped the campaigns while the other two continued, so far 3 presidential candidates have joined Moise Katumbi in a coalition these include the former Premier Minister Matata Mponyo, Franc Diongo and Seth Kikuni. Two more others launched their campaigns over this weekend among them the Nobel Price Dennis Mukwege and Jean Pascal Anzuluni who is the Candidate of the Civil Society.
The main challenges facing the candidates currently should be connected to money in order to carry on the campaigns because the country is too big and has no infrastructure but also expectations from people who expect candidates to give them money. The money culture which has been imposed over the years is not so far common to people as per now.
So far the campaigns have been peaceful and there are no problems, those in campaigns are not restricted and seem to coordinate very well with the electoral commission and the security services. People coming for various campaigns are also peaceful and there are no tensions between people as per now.
So far three main issues do attract the attention of Congolese mainly the security in the Eastern part which is occupied by M23 armed Group backed by Rwanda, the Economy and the social services. On the issue of the war in some parts of the country each candidate is offering what he/she is going to do but as per now there is no serious difference as they all believe that the national army should be strengthened in order to defeat the rebels. On the issue of the economy the national budget and the problem of the dollars are the main, while the social everyone is offering the services that range from the construction of roads, access to electricity and water, free education and free basic health services and the creation of employment for the young people.
What do people say as per now?
Among people here in Goma and in some other parts, people remain ignorant on key issues such as the kind of candidates to vote at all levels, people are clear on who to vote as president but they are not clear who to vote as Members of Parliament and local Councils. But also only the prominent presidential candidates are known such as Felix Tshisekedi, Moise Katumbi, Martin Fayulu and Dennis Mukwege.
Access to media
The national Government media is fairly giving space to each candidate and equally to engage the audience, the foreign media such as Radio France International (RFI) has mainly covered only the campaigns for Moise Katumbi and in some cases perceived as exaggerating some few things in his favor, the local political party media are only focusing on their candidates and are not giving space to others, while the private local media rely only on the offer, the most active are the online media which are fairly doing the best to cover all the campaigns for all candidates. On top of that we have also observed equal space to presidential candidates on Okapi Radio which belongs to the United Nations Mission in DRC.
Attacking each other
Some candidates are spending most of their time during the campaigns to attack others rather than presenting an alternative programme to people.
Done in Goma, November 26th, 2023
Kulihoshi Musikami Pecos