Sunday, April 22, 2012

Could Eugène Diomi Ndongala Become Tshisekedi's Political Heir?

The creation of the new political platform in the DRC by Etienne Tshisekedi, announced by Diomi Ndongala april 19th could be a major development in Congo's politics. Considering the internal wars inside UDPS, this could mark Diomi Ndongala's emergence as Tshisekedi's political heir. In the meantime Congolese in South Africa continue to organize protests.


Anonymous said...

Perhaps because I am an American, and truly hate the idea of "inevitable" candidates who do not work to earn the support of party members, this really rankles me.

What gives Etienne the right to make anyone an "heir"? Why should he, alone, decide who leads the party? or the party's policies or platforms? Did Mandela- who Etienne arrogantly compares himself to- "find" an heir?

How is this any different than the autocracy we have in the Congo now?

To be clear, I'm asking all these questions rhetorically. But while I am sure Ndongala is a fine man, at what point will Congolese political parties GO TO THE PEOPLE and ask THEM for their support?

I hate to rant here but its shit like this that doesn't give me any confidence in UDPS and, I'd argue, anyone else and its one reason I've stopped giving the Party money.

The UNC is in the process of building the party up in every province in the Congo and wants to institute a structure of local, district, provincial, and national elected committees. These committees will THEN elect leaders and decide policy democratically.

This approach is going to be a game changer and, at the very least, is democratic.

So here's the $64,000 question, Vincent.

Would your average Congolese prefer to join and support a Party that tells them what to do and who its leaders will be?


Would your average Congolese prefer to join and support a Party that ASKS THEM for their support and THEIR ideas about what to do?

I wish Ndongala and Etienne well. But its clear to me (and likely donors) that they really don't understand "internal democracy" and, as such, cannot be trusted to bring about real democracy in the Congo inspite of their rhetoric otherwise.


Vincent Harris said...

I prefer to look at a political party as a business through the Ashridge-mission model which asks several questions:
why does our business exist(goal)
and how are we going to reach that goal? (strategy)

In Congo's political context: how do we build a viable and strong political party that has ideas and ability to put its roots down deep into Congolese society.

The weakness of UDPS /iswas it's alleged strong ties to one tribe and it's lack of democracy (as you point out too). Additional an important weakness was it's artificial link to a progressive political family (social democrats) that has never helped Tshisekedi in Europe and the US (and I don't see how it helped him in Congo).

I have the impression the choice to move the party in the direction of Ndongala (who is not Baluba) and his Christian Democracy, Tshisekedi moves away from his tribal and the progressive roots of his UDPS towards the political family that could well play a strong role in Congo's future: Christian Democracy.

Anonymous said...

@ Mel
The opposition in the Congo, or the one aligned with UDPS (since not all of them are), seems to be engaging in building parallel institutions of power in the Congo.

A few problems with that:

- the world has recognized Kabila and his government.
- it could be considered treasonous to continue to build said institutions
- without the force of arms no one, least of all Kabila, will take them seriously.
- experts cannot definitively declare who won so why is the MPP declaring that ET won AND that the Congolese should get to the bottom of it? It cannot logically be both and this makes the MPP look weak and foolish and not serious.
- this effort further marginalizes the opposition given it doesn’t include EVERYONE.

#2 concerns me the most. What stops Kabila from placing anyone who affiliates on the MPP coalition in jail for acts of treason? The platform, which I have read, clearly states that ET is President. Given the international community bestows sovereignty and they have recognized Kabila, it is perfectly acceptable for the Congolese authorities to round up anyone who supports the MPP platform and try them for it given this fact. And, should this happen, we all know who the winner would be.

I agree with much of what is in the MPP manifesto (though, not all of it) but the current strategy they are pursuing is incredibly dangerous- mostly for them. It makes far more sense to work within the system to reform it as opposed to setting up a parallel one no one will recognize. At the very least, they should remove language stating ET is President. This is akin to Hamas’s manifesto explicitly calling for the destruction of Israel which has the same effect of isolating and endangering its leadership.

I’m pretty sure moderate voices in the UDPS recognize this central fact but, as Mel is suggesting, the lack of internal democracy within both UDPS and the MPP silence their voices at best, or suppress discussion and dissent at strategizing a way forward, at worst.

It is a shame to watch UDPS self-destruct in this manner.

@ Vincent

Being also American, I share both Mel’s concerns and her views on how to build political parties. It might be true that highlight Ngandala is an effort by Etienne to move UDPS in a different direction. But is there not a way to do this democratically? What is making it so hard for elites in the Congo to ask people in every town and village what they want from government and then asking them to organize their fellows into a party, nominate people to represent them in office, and elect people into office to make it happen? Recent studies show that the Congolese understand that this is how parties are supposed to work but those studies also show that Congolese do not feel their political parties do this- even ones they support!

We need more truly grassroots, national, political parties that are internally democratic in the Congo.

This would be the TRUE game changer.

I agree with you that an alliance with the Christian Democrats makes good sense, however.