Ngurare takes on SADC

SADC's unexpected move of calling for a recount in the DRC underlines growing worries that the 30 December vote may lead to a further slide into anarchy and violence.

15 January 2019 | International

Former Swapo Party Youth League secretary Elijah Ngurare has described SADC's about-turn on the Democratic Republic of Congo's election result as confusing, while claiming the regional body was “singing the hymn” of France and Belgium.

He was reacting to the news this week that SADC has called for a recount in the DRC.

The regional body has also called on a unity government to be formed.

The unexpected move underlines growing worries that instead of marking a turning point for the troubled country, the 30 December vote and the deepening political crisis it has triggered will instead lead to a slide into anarchy and violence.

International relations minister Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah congratulated the DRC earlier this week on the peaceful election.

Asked for comment yesterday about calls for a recount, Nandi-Ndaitwah, said: “There is nothing like that.” She did not want to comment further as she was out of town.

Ngurare told Namibian Sun that the move by SADC to demand a recount was confusing, to say the least.

The surprise victor of the DRC election was Félix Tshisekedi, leader of the country's main opposition party. Tshisekedi beat Martin Fayulu by a narrow margin.

“Initially SADC countries were congratulating DRC on the election, but now suddenly they are demanding a recount of the results,” Ngurare said.

He said the DRC election was a historic moment, as it was the first peaceful transfer of power the country had witnessed.

“From this perspective, you would therefore expect that SADC would congratulate DRC.”

Fayulu has approached the courts with regard to the outcome of the election and Ngurare said that SADC should have waited on the court's pronouncement before expressing an opinion.

Fayulu claims that he won by a landslide and that Tshisekedi struck a deal with outgoing DRC president Joseph Kabila to be declared the victor.

'Jumping the gun'

“Demanding a recount is jumping the gun. It seems that SADC is just singing the hymn of Belgium and France. SADC should have respected the rule of law in DRC and waited for the court to pronounce itself.”

Ngurare said the manner in which SADC pronounced itself beforehand sets a bad president.

He further elaborated on the West's influence in African politics, saying the reason why Western countries are so involved is because of the mineral wealth in the DRC.

“Western countries would like to ensure that someone stays in power that will not threaten the supply of minerals to their countries. With peace, it also becomes harder to control this.”

Zambian president Edgar Lungu, in his capacity as the chairperson of the SADC Organ on Politics, Defence and Security, on Sunday issued a statement saying SADC had called for a recount of DRC election result.

He also urged the political parties in the DRC to consider forming an all-inclusive government.

“SADC has taken note of the strong doubts cast on the poll outcome by Roman Catholic Church in the DRC which had deployed more than 40 000 monitors, the opposition Lamuka coalition and other observers, and therefore feels a recount would provide the necessary reassurance to both winners and losers,” said Lungu.

He said SADC encouraged all stakeholders in the DRC elections to pursue a negotiated political settlement for a government of national unity.

Lungu said he had spoken to leaders of SADC and the International Conference of the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR).

He also spoke with the provisionally proclaimed winner, Tshisekedi, and other stakeholders within and outside the DRC.

“SADC draws the attention of Congolese politicians to similar arrangements that were very successful in South Africa, Zimbabwe and Kenya where governments of national unity created the necessary stability for durable peace.”

Lungu said SADC therefore encouraged all parties to enter into a political process towards a government of national unity in order to enhance public confidence, build bridges and reinforce democratic institutions of government and the electoral process, for a better Congo.

“SADC has urged DRC authorities to swiftly resolve all elements of doubt that could undermine the fairly successful general election and pose a danger to the peace and stability of the country,” Lungu said.

He said it is therefore imperative that at this very crucial moment, all DRC politicians commit to actions and processes that do not escalate tensions any further.

“SADC expresses solidarity with the government and the people of the DRC for organising a relatively successful election that inspires hope that the country was on a path towards democratic consolidation.”

South Africa has already thrown its support behind the SADC call for a recount of the votes.

Chequered past

Regional African bodies, including SADC, have often been criticised for their ineffectiveness during political crises.

Critics have long called for them to play a more active role during elections to ensure credibility and the rule of law. For instance, in addition to sending observers, regional bodies such as SADC have been urged to have a firmer voice in pronouncing on the credibility - or lack thereof - of elections. The SADC has previously been criticised for inaccurate reporting of the 2013 Zimbabwe elections.

Several thousand soldiers from the region were deployed in the DRC following the ousting of former dictator Mobutu Sese Seko in the late 1990s. The SADC intervention by Namibian, Angolan and Zimbabwean troops in 1998 was to protect the regime in Kinshasa against Rwandan and Ugandan rebels.

More recently South Africa, Tanzania and Malawi deployed soldiers as part of the United Nations Force Intervention Brigade in the eastern DRC. SADC's role getting Joseph Kabila, who had ruled the DRC since his father Laurent Kabila's death 2001, she also be underscored.

According to the SADC Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation, the organisation has played a major role in ensuring that the December 2016 agreement leading up to elections in the DRC had been respected.


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