In March 2019, CEPAS together with 100 civil society organizations held electoral workshop in DRC. This process begun with brainstorming on importance of the civil societies in electoral process. Since the presidential and legislative elections (national and provincial) took place on the 30th December 2018. It was therefore important for the civil society actors involved in the consensual approach to come together to assess, with calmness, the process that exacerbated the socio-political cleavages that could undermine national cohesion and weaken the action of civil society.
Panel 1 (Day 1): Evaluation of the Electoral Process
Lawyer Gérard Bisambu from AETA
Lawyer Hubert Tshiswaka from IRDH
Lawyer William Wenga from RENADHOC
Mr. Steward Muhindo from the Lucha (Beni)
Mr. Jean-Baptiste Ndundu from the National and Independent Electoral Commission (CENI) (member of the bureau)
Mr. Charis Bosoko from RODHECIC
The first day of the workshop was to take a critical look at the polls of December 30, 2018. Under the moderation of Alain Nzadi (CEPAS), the panelists addressed in turn (a) the strengths and weaknesses of the political and legal framework (Jean-Baptiste Ndundu from the CENI (National and Independent Electroral Commission) and Gerard Bisambu from AETA), (b) the strategy of the political parties and the birth of the electoral platforms (Hubert Tshiswaka from the IRDH and William Wenga from RENADHOC), (c) the contribution of the civil society in the electoral process (William Wenga from RENADHOC and Charis Bosoko from RODHECIC), (d) the situation of those excluded from the polls (LUCHA’s Steward Muhindo, who came especially from Beni, is one of the organizers of the popular vote in the city of Beni on December 30, which has registered more than 70,000 voters).
In a serene atmosphere, many questions were addressed, even those that could “irritate”, given the presence among panelists of a member of the office of the National and Independent Electoral Commission (CENI), as the independence of the CENI vis-à-vis some political actors, the non-consensual introduction of the voting machine which eventually led to an electronic vote (since the results were transmitted electronically to the CENI central) and the exclusion of part of the electorate for reasons that some have described as “politically motivated”.
In essence, the panelists and the various interventions of the participants recommend to the civil society to get involved in the reform of the institutions (especially CENI) and the revision of certain provisions of the electoral law (and even certain articles of the Constitution) for better fight the antivaleurs that seem to be institutionalized. Moreover, a thorough debate should be held on whether or not to couple / decouple the elections (in particular the presidential and legislative elections), given the current imbroglio with a population that votes overwhelmingly for the change in the head of state (more than 70% for the two opposition candidates) while “offering” on a plateau the two rooms to the outgoing Majority!
Panel 2 (Day 2): Situation after the vote: Announcement of results and litigation
– Professor Léon de Saint Moulin from CEPAS
– Technical team of the electoral observation of the CENCO
– Professor Angélique Sita Muila from UNIKIN-CEPAS
– Mrs. Léonie Kandolo of the CLC
On the second day, moderated by Mrs. Euphrasie Amina of OSISA, the panelists looked at the post-vote of December 30, 2018. Several points were discussed: (a) role of the CENI in comparison with the elections of 2006 and 2011 (by Léon de Saint Moulin), (b) role and contribution of electoral observation missions (technical team of CENCO), (c) role of the Constitutional Court in electoral disputes (by Angélique Sita) and (d) impact of the proclamation of results on the Congolese population and low representation of women in the various elections (by Léonie Kandolo).
The elections of December 30 were the culmination of enormous efforts and sacrifices of several actors: politicians and civil society. The latter played an important role in the electoral observation (CENCO, SYMOCEL) thanks to which the FCC did not manage to make a passage in force by imposing its candidate. Despite the divergence of views between CENCO and CENI, we note that the population has welcomed the change at the head of the state with great hope. Given the divisions that have emerged after the elections, with results that Camp LAMUKA continues to challenge, civil society is called upon to play a reconciliation role to extinguish the seeds of tribalism. The hopes of the population are great; the Tshisekedi administration would have to stand apart from the antivaleurs of the old actors.
Day 3. What future? Perspectives and role of civil society in this new context
– Lawyer Jean-Claude Katende from ASADHO
– Mr. Hervé Diakese from Standing Congolese
– Dr. Dirk Shaka from LUCHA
– Professor Philémon Mwamba of the UCC
– Professor Jean-Louis Esambo from UNIKIN
The last day of the workshop was a projection to the future: what should be the role of civil society in the socio-political configuration of the post-election period? What are the challenges with urgency? To accompany the reflection, several sub-themes were examined, under the moderation of Emmanuel Bueya from CEPAS: (a) the socio-political environment before and after the elections: what has changed? (Hervé Diakese and Dirk Shaka), (b) new role of civil society and citizen movements in the reconstructed political environment (Jean-Claude Katende and Dirk Shaka), (c) likely evolution of the political context (Philémon Mwamba), (d) Conditions for the continuation of the electoral process (Jean-Louis Esambo).
Given the reorganization of the socio-political environment in the aftermath of elections, civil society and citizens’ movements have their work cut out for them. Indeed, whether it is the national reconciliation to be promoted, the reforms of the laws and the institutions to be initiated, or the moralization of political life to be established, civil society and citizens’ movements will have to get involved in order to get an effective change. Perhaps one of the panelists suggested that President Tshisekedi’s mandate should be seen as a transition that will enable us to organize better elections in the future, after learning from our mistakes.
On the agenda of civil society, advise two other panelists, it should also include pleas below: the reform of the electoral law to return to a presidential election in two rounds; all-out vigilance so that the FCC does not take advantage of its large majority in both chambers to pass tailor-made laws; the next new composition of the Constitutional Court (appointment of people of integrity) so that the principle of drawing lots is respected; the restructuring of the CENI whose mandate ends next June. Faced with such challenges, civil society must avoid the trap of division and become aware of its role as guardian of the temple. To do this, civil society as a whole must stand on the side of the people and look in the same direction. This may be one of the ways to contain the bulimia policy of the FCC!
ALAIN NZADI-a-NZADI, SJ
Director of CEPAS and Editor-in-Chief of Congo-Afrique