On the road to recovery

DRC president Felix Tshisekedi has promised to tackle entrenched corruption head-on.

28 February 2019 | International

The newly elected president of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Felix Tshisekedi, says his government's first priority is to bring peace and stability to the mineral-rich country ravaged by decades of violence and corruption.

Tshisekedi was in Windhoek this week for a two-day working visit to President Hage Geingob.

Tshisekedi, who was declared the winner of the country's first democratic elections in 20 years, has promised to tackle entrenched corruption head-on.

Tshisekedi denied that he had struck a deal with former long-serving president Joseph Kabila, saying he planned to get rid of Kabila's system of government to make way for his own system.

“Before, oppositions were not given a platform on our national television and radio, but now, even the opposition [candidate] who is still claiming to have won the elections is given a platform, and not only that, he is also free to circulate [in] the country without being threatened,” he said.

His agenda for the DRC was rooted in their quest for peace and stability, he emphasised.

“As you know, for many years my country has been facing trouble brought in by armed groups who killed people and illegally exported our precious resources.

“With such conditions, it is very difficult to develop the country and that is the reason why we came to see President Geingob,” he stated.

Geingob, who doubles as SADC chairman, reminded reporters that granting immunity to former leaders was a normal practice and should even be regarded as an incentive for peaceful transitions.

Responding to questions about the controversial DRC elections early this year, Geingob said no one but the people of DRC could question these elections.

“When Kabila was here [for the SADC Summit in Windhoek] he said he was not going to stand. We all welcomed that. There were elections that were peaceful and smooth.

“Somebody was elected and announced by the people of DRC and the person who did not win appealed to the institutions of that country and the court ruled. So, who are you, who am I, to question that?” Geingob said.

Tshisekedi admitted that his country's administration systems had been destroyed to the extent that corruption took over.

“We need to restore the administration to give place to a state of law and justice. We need to ensure good social conditions for the women and men of DRC. We want to restore the dignity of our people. People are the foundation of good government,” he said.

He added that his government was determined to ensure good living conditions and, in particular, to provide education to improve people's lives.

He also emphasised that his takeover as head of state signalled a “new dawn of peaceful transitions of power that must be appreciated as a new beginning for the people of DRC”.

“If, after this term, people decide to vote for someone else, then I will respect that. We are very careful, that is why we are in discussions. Soon a cabinet will be formed, but I will ensure there is a good code of conduct to have a coalition to run the country,” he said.

JEMIMA BEUKES

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