DRC: Moral Authority and People First

By Bernardin SEBAHIRE
ISDR/ Bukavu

Two concepts now belong to the Congolese political register: "Authority morality and people first”. These two paradigms unfortunately seem to be in contradiction and find it difficult to live together. The first concept designates the president of any political party, political parties whose number would be around 500 at time of writing this article. The people first is a slogan of the party at the power the Union for Democracy and Social Progress (UDPS).

Indeed, the population of the Democratic Republic of Congo is estimated at 100 million inhabitants, 20% hold all the wealth while 80% live in the poverty line. Among this majority are the teacher, the doctor, the magistrate, soldier and peasant. The strike movements recorded in the public services of the Congolese State sufficiently prove the level of frustration of these providers. Indeed, for a decade, the start of the school year has never taken place. in a peaceful climate as this excerpt illustrates:

“Thousands of students took to the streets of Kinshasa. The Congolese teachers receive an average monthly salary of less than 60 euros and they ask to be increased. But it is their students who demonstrated, asking the government to respond to the demands teachers to resume classes. A demonstration without notable incident, though law enforcement struggled to contain the crowd. The movement of strike also affects public hospitals, which operate at only 25% of their ability. The nurses decided to stop work.''

The Congolese electorate, one of the poorest on the planet

The year 2023 is proclaimed by the Independent National Electoral Commission
(INEC), like an election year. The big maneuvers have already begun.
On the calendar, the deadline is still far away. However, the presidential theoretically scheduled for December 2023 is already in people's minds. Of new parties are born every month. Presidents of political parties or ‘moral authorities’ raid the provinces to recruit future members made up in large numbers of unemployed young people and women idle.

On the subject of elections, Amartya SEN (1999), believes that rulers are encouraged to listen to the claims of their constituents if they are exposed to their criticisms and if they should secure their support, on the occasion of elections. We never lamented famines in an independent country with democratic structures and a even relative freedom of the press. Famines are associated with kingdoms traditional in history, and authoritarian societies around the world contemporary ; to primitive tribal communities and dictatorships technocratic; to colonial economies subject to imperialist powers Western countries and to the new independent States of the South which are placed under the regime of despots or single parties. They never appear in a country independent where electoral consultations are organized, where parties opposition parties express their criticisms and where the press reports on the situation and can call into question the merits of government policies without suffering excessive censorship.

Opponents rail against poor governance

In the Democratic Republic of Congo, the opponent Martin Fayulu has relaunched the
controversy over the salaries of elected officials. Although it is sometimes difficult to know exactly what we are talking about in terms of parliamentary emoluments.
The debate on the remuneration of Congolese deputies is as recurrent as it is politicized and complex. Recurrent ? He was already agitating the DRC in 2020, when the president of the National Assembly suggested to the Prime Minister an increase of 2,000 dollars from the emoluments of the tenants of the House. A year later, 500 vehicles were made available to elected officials…

In the upcoming competition against Félix Tshisekedi, the first to anounce his candidacy is a former Prime Minister of Joseph Kabila. Augustine Matata Ponyo, who led the government between 2012 and 2016, formalized his application in early May. An economist by training, he presents himself as a social- Democrat, attached to a market economy but giving importance to social issues such as education and health. For him, this offer symbolizes "bad governance" in the management of state affairs in ground floor.

Augustin Matata Ponyo indicates that it is incomprehensible and unacceptable that at same time when most deputies and provincial ministers accuse several months of late payment of their emoluments and retrocessions, that such a gift of several tens of millions of US dollars be granted to some 609 deputies and senators. In his correspondence to Modeste Bahati, President of the Senate, March 30, Matata Ponyo reports that at market price reduced to 65,000 USD per vehicle, the 609 Hyundai Palisade would cost nearly 40 million dollars Americans. 
The former Prime Minister clarified in his letter that these funds are in extent, "to finance the construction of three to four universities in the provinces or more than four hundred primary schools, four large regional hospitals oreven the acquisition of two second-hand Airbus planes, or even four hundred large buses for public transport".

Let us conclude with this reflection by Jean-François Bayart 2: The Africans themselves speak of "belly politics"; the expression, of Cameroonian origin, referring to a conception of the state apparatus perceived as a place of access to wealth, to privileges, power and prestige for oneself and for the members of one's clan.