Saturday, 17 December 2011

DR CONGO ELECTIONS: 'WE DONT NEED THE WEST, WE AFRICANS CAN DO IT'

Full interview HERE

DR Congo ambassador to Zimbabwe - Mr Mwanapanga Mwana Nanga (MN) - on the elections in DRC, speaking to the Deputy News Editor Lovemore Chikova (LC) of the Zim-based Herald

LC: It was a massive general election with 32 million registered voters, 18 500 parliamentary candidates competing for 500 seats and 11 presidential candidates. How did you manage?

MN: It was very difficult because some ballots had like more than 50 pages because there were too many candidates. In a country the size of Western Europe you can see that it was not an easy exercise. If you talk to the monitors and observers they will tell that it was very tough. On top of everything, it was during the rainy season. I was myself a candidate and more than once my car was stuck on the muddy roads. I stood in the central Bakongo province.

LC: You said you were a candidate. Will you remain an ambassador if you win the parliamentary seat?

MN: The results will come on January 13, then in March we have the senators and the election for provincial MPs. Provincial MPs select the senators and the governors because each province has its own parliament. In our system when you are elected, you have two deputies. If I decide not to go to Parliament one of my deputies will take the seat and then I can choose to remain an ambassador.

LC: What did you learn from your country's second democratic election in 51 years and the first to be organised by the government?

MN: First of all, we learnt that as Africans we can really do our own thing instead of relying every time on these Western countries who give you little help and yet they want to impose the conditions. We organised it ourselves. About 85 percent of the resources came from ourselves and for the 15 percent that we got from outside, part of it came from South Africa and Angola and Western countries intervened in a very little way.

If anything, it shows that as African countries we are maturing and we can do things on our own. We also learnt that where there is a will you can do everything you want. We managed to do it in a very short time in such a huge country. Everybody thought this election would bring trouble to the country, but it didn't because people now know that our destiny is in our hands.

LC: What was the role of foreign observers in the election?

MN: I will say there were two types of foreign observers, the African observers and the Western observers. The African observers had a lot of confidence in the DRC situation and they praised all that we did. But the Western observers were looking for trouble. If you saw the latest statement by the Cater Centre you will see that they were not there for the elections. They said you can't hold the elections, you will have to postpone. The electoral commission said look this is our country, we know our country. But unfortunately for them, at the end of the day we did it and it was successful. Those who are honest say that the election was done by the book.

LC: DRC is ranked last on the UN global survey on human development. Is this a fair assessment?

MN: We know that the DRC has a lot of challenges, but we do not think that it is correct to say it's the least in terms of development. Are you trying to tell me that DRC is worse than Somalia? There has been tremendous progress, but these rankings are there on statistics that were done maybe five years ago which are based during the time when everything was collapsing.

LC: How far has your country recovered from years of civil war?

MN: We are rebuilding our roads, we are rebuilding our rails and the President said we should order new boats. You see, we have a major highway in the form of the Congo River with 1 700 kilometres of navigable water. All the boats used on the river were destroyed. We have asked the Chinese to build 3 000km of roads, 3 000km of rail, three universities and schools. We have also cancelled about 90 percent of debts which were left by Mobutu.

LC: DRC reportedly has untapped mineral resources estimated at US$24 trillion. What are you doing to exploit such vast resources?

MN: We have so much that we don't even know the value. So, the Government has signed a contract with the South Koreans to do an investigation to estimate what is it that we have. We have also signed a contract with an Australian company to develop the first phase of the Inga Dam because in any industrialisation you will need power. We are lucky to have Inga which has the biggest hydro potential in the world.

LC: What are President Kabila's priorities if he is eventually confirmed the winner by the Supreme Court?

MN: The priority is to continue the rebuilding of infrastructure, the democratisation of the country as we call it. we to build infrastructure, but people do not eat infrastructure and look at the social side, you know the salaries, and make sure that people have something in their pockets to feed their families.

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