Note from the Editor

Democracy in Africa? What democracy in Africa?

Democracy in Africa? What democracy in Africa?
Pedestrians are reflected in a pool of water in Kinshasa, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, 20 January 2019. The country's Constitutional Court in the early hours of 20 January upheld the victory Felix Tshisekedi by rejecting appeals by his rival Martin Fayulu. Fayulu has rejected the court ruling and called on his supporters to organise non-violent protests. EPA-EFE/HUGH KINSELLA CUNNINGHAM

It is becoming increasingly clear for everyone to see: Democracy in Africa is an idea to which almost nobody is subscribing. Once more, another country’s clear majority chose its president, only for the land that was once Mandela’s to accept the clearly fake presidential and parliamentary results, people’s will be damned. This time, it’s Congo’s turn.

So, why have elections at all?

The polls in Congo have come and gone, another one in the wall of denying the people’s true will. The “results”, if they could be even considered that, have clearly been cooked.

Reported Daily Maverick’s Marianne Thamm on 13 January 2019:

During the weekend, the data leaked by a whistle-blower claiming to be a DRC National Independent Electoral Commission (CENI) high-level insider appears to confirm the claim by the Catholic election observers that Felix Tshisekedi was not a true winner. According to the leak, Martin Fayulu garnered 59.42% of the vote and not 34.7%, as announced in provisional results released by the commission on 10 January. This would indicate potential massive electoral fraud.

The whistle-blower-supplied data, which has not yet been fully independently verified, indicates that Fayulu received 9,325,786 (or 59.42%) of some 15 million votes cast, compared with the provisional victor, Tshisekedi, of the Union for Democracy and Social Progress’s 2,977,290 votes, which amounts to only 18.9%.

Outgoing President Joseph Kabila’s handpicked successor, the little known Emmanuel Ramazan Shadary, according to the leaked data based on a 2,060-page breakdown of votes cast from each and every voting post in DRC, received 2,910,227 or 18.5% of the vote.

With a voting population of about 40 million, the 15 million votes cast, as claimed by the whistle-blower, reveal a low turnout for these crucial presidential elections.

Thamm’s reporting was fully backed the following day by the Financial Times, whose excellent deep analysis of the leaked results also pointed to a clear Fayulu victory.

Make no mistake, every single leader of SADC, and beyond, knows that this is true, that Fayulu is the winner of the Congolese elections. SADC’s original reaction was to even ask for the recount.

The UN Security Council also heard from the French representative who refused to accept the interim results and Tshisekedi as the winner.

On 17 January 2019, the African Union (AU) concluded:

…The Heads of State and Government attending the meeting concluded that there were serious doubts on the conformity of the provisional results, as proclaimed by the National Independent Electoral Commission, with the verdict of the ballot boxes.

Accordingly, the Heads of State and Government called for the suspension of the proclamation of the final results of the elections…”

And yet, Congo’s constitutional court announced late on 19 January 2019, that it confirmed the by now infamous preliminary results, declaring Tshisekedi the winner and the new president of Democratic Republic of Congo. Tshisekedi will have to share power with a parliament that is two-thirds pro-Kabila, keeping the kleptocratic incumbent very much in the pound seats.

How convenient.

DRC court’s decision was indeed expected — it is stuffed with pro-Kabila judges. The recipe is simple — present the AU with the fait accompli and wait for its commitment to justice and fairness in Congo to ebb away. It’s happened too many times not to succeed now.

But how does one understand the lightning-quick acceptance of the clearly corrupt process, and the deeply flawed court decision, by SADC and, even more disturbingly, the government of South Africa?

(Read President Cyril Ramaphosa’s congratulatory note to the newly “elected” president Tshisekedi here, and SADC’s note of congratulation by the president of Namibia Hage G Geingob.)

Once more in Africa, a bunch of hardened autocrats and professional thieves, enabled by developed world bankers, corporations and mercenaries, but rejected by their own people, were allowed to steal a country. And South Africa will be remembered as being eager to offer congratulations on a job well done.

South Africans with a memory longer than that of larvae will remember the earlier Zimbabwean elections and our government’s shameful role.

In 2008, Morgan Tsvangirai and MDC had clearly won, defeating Zanu-PF and its patriarch Robert Mugabe. And yet, South Africa’s Thabo Mbeki-led SADC enabled the grand theft of the Zimbabwean future. Quiet diplomacy, remember?

In its continued support of Zanu-PF, the SA government went so far as to even suppress the release of the Khampepe-Moseneke report and then fought all the way to the Constitutional Court, which clearly proved that Mugabe also stole the 2002 elections. It took 12 years for Mail and Guardian to win in the courts.

And the band played on.

Zimbabwe kept sinking deeper into oblivion. Recently, Mugabe gone and Zanu-PF’s Emmerson Mnangagwa winning another disputed victory, the petrol shortage in the country became so bad that the queue in Bulawayo reached a world record-breaking 19.4km. The country has descended into a medieval survival state, with a massive, and violent, spillover soon to possibly spread into South Africa.

So, how did the shielding of the election thieves work for Zimbabwe, dear SA government?

Care to predict how the latest stealing of Congo elections will work for its people?

It’s time for Africa to be strategic and not tactical. It’s time to think long term and not just as far as the next two weeks. It’s time we help African countries once they choose who they want to lead them. Let’s not even try to suggest governments of “national unity” when we know it is only a tool to keep dictators in power forever.

Africa needs the country of Mandela to behave like it is still one. We need to once again become owners of a spine.

It’s time to hold elections where we count votes won and not the weaponry certain sides control or the money the privileged elites will make. We need to finally stop behaving like it doesn’t matter to us down here. It does.

Elections results should matter. People’s true will should matter.

Otherwise, they are just a smokescreen designed to keep foreign aid flowing in. That charade cannot last forever.

Or maybe it’s time we collectively say democracy doesn’t work for Africa and it’s time to openly switch to “might beats right”, foreign aid be damned?

One way or another, it’s time to stop lying to the world. And, it’s time to stop lying to ourselves. Your move, South Africa. DM


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