The Democratic Process in the DRC.
par Bobo BONG-E-BONE
Wits University - Licence en science politique 2006
I. Geographical Presentation
The Democratic Republic of the Congo is a state in central Africa and the third largest country on the African continent. It has nine neighbor's countries: Central African Republic and Sudan (the big African country geographically) on the north, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and Tanzania on the east, Zambia and Angola on the south, and the Republic of Congo on the west. The Democratic Republic of the Congo enjoys access to the sea through a narrow forty kilometers stretch, following the Congo River into the guest of Guinea. The Democratic Republic of the Congo is the second French country in the world after France.
According to Callaghy (1(*)), `Congolese society is an uncoordinated mosaic of sociopolitical groupings most of which have direct roots in the pre-colonial period. Despite the uneven impact of colonial rule, the continuity of tradition remains powerful. The stubborn survival of traditional authority patterns and the deeply rooted local and regional particularisms are sometimes major obstacles for centralizing absolutist state'.
Currently the Congolese population is estimated at 60 million, around 250 ethnic groups have been distinguished and named, although 700 local languages and dialects are spoken and 80% of the Congolese are Christian, predominantly Roman Catholic. According to Jennings (2(*)), in Africa, there are hundreds of different languages, many of them very primitive, some quite advanced, but none are advanced enough to express the whole corpus of knowledge, but the professor Cheikh Anta Diop was never sharing this affirmation.
The Democratic Republic of the Congo's total area is 2, 345, 410 sq Km and its climate is tropical, hot and humid in equatorial river basin, cooler and drier in southern highlands, cooler and wetter in eastern highlands, cooler and wetter in eastern highlands, north of Equator wet season April to October, dry season from December to February, south of Equator wet season from November to March, dry season April to October. The bulk of the subject population is rural and agricultural and although urbanization is taking place at a rapid rate, around 85 percent of the population are still peasants cultivating the soil by traditional methods (3(*)).
The Democratic Republic of the Congo's natural resources are cobalt, copper, coltan, cadmium, petroleum, industrial and gem diamonds, gold, silver, zinc, manganese, tin, germanium, uranium, radium, bauxite, iron ore, coal, hydropower potential... but in practice, the DRC is one of the very poorest countries in the world.
In 1994, more than one and half million refugees fled into the Democratic Republic of the Congo to escape the fighting between Hutus and Tutsis in Rwanda and Burundi, during `genocide' time. Few number of these returned to their countries late in 1997 despite fear of the on going violence, additionally, Congo is host around 120, 000 Angolan, more than 250 Burundian and 100, 000 Sudanese refugees. The repatriation of Angolan refugees was stopped early in 1995 because of the recurrence of fighting in Angola perpetrate by the former rebel Jonas Savimbi.
II. Background of the concept of democracy
Before applying any concept, it is always very important to know its meaning and sometimes its origin.
Firstly, the concept of `democracy' is literally, ruled by the people from the Greek demos `people', and Kratos `rule'. In other words, democracy means the method by which the rule is exercised and indeed the composition of the people is central to various definitions, but the general principle is that of majority rule.
Secondly, the concept of democracy can take place at any political regime or even at any state form. The democratic system is the opposite of totalitarian rule.
In contemporary usage, the concept of democracy is often refers to a government chosen by the people, where only people govern in accordance with a constitution. The notion of democracy is, of course, a complex and contested notion, a notion which today means many things to different people and leaders. According to Lefort (4(*)), democracy should be seen, not so much as a specific institution or cluster of institutions, but rather as a form of modern society, that is, as a particular way in which society is articulated or instituted.
The struggle for democracy is primarily a political struggle on the form of good governance, thus involving the redynamization of the state. No one claims that democracy means and aims at social emancipation. Rather it is always located on the terrain of political liberalism so, at best, creating best conditions for the best democratic process.
For my concern, the pillars of democracy are the sovereignty of the people, the best guarantee of basic human rights, the equality before the law and free and fair elections, the due process of law and constitutional limits of government, the values of tolerance and the government based upon consent of the governed and the majority.
Lefort's approach of democracy and totalitarianism, two main forms of society, presents contrast between them. He believes that democracy always proves to be an historical society by excellence, a society which, in its very form, welcomes and preserves indeterminacy and which provides a remarkable contrast with totalitarianism which, because it is a constructed under the slogan of creating a new man, claims to understand the law of its organization and development. Lefort presents also double faces of democracy: firstly, a power which is henceforth involved in a constant search for a basis because law and knowledge are no longer embodied in the person who exercise it, and secondly, a society which accepts conflicting opinions and debates over rights, because the markers which once allowed people to situate themselves in relation to one another in a determinate manner have disappeared.
III. Topic's Motivation
If so early in 1990s years, the apartheid system became politically, socially, economically and culturally incorrect in Republic of South Africa, it means that many things have been changed around the world. This political situation influenced also the ruling in the former Zaire while the president Mobutu announced the democratic process on the 24 April 1990. This democratic Multy-party process opens the way to struggle of good conditions of life, human rights, good governance, poverty reduction became the buzz words of the discourse, now renamed `policy dialogues'(5(*)). Multy-party and liberal democracy immediately elicited even a more passionate search for `real democracy'.
According to Dala (6(*)), the Democratic Republic of the Congo, as many African countries, has been concerned by the international community political context changing which occurred in the worldwide at the collapse of the communism, the end of the cold war and the triggering of Michael Gorbatchev's glasnost or transparency, the fall of the Berlin wall and Germany unification, even the eastern Europe collapse, the first Gulf war... proves another phase in the political come-back of imperial hegemony.
Marked by this new international political configuration trend to democracy, Congolese people and social movements within the country have forced totalitarian leader Mobutu Sese Seko to make end in his stupid long ruling and to engage the country towards democracy (7(*)). But in fact, according to Abdoulaye Wade (8(*)), the Democratic Republic of the Congo has no any experience with democratic process. Most Congolese, old and young, man and woman, educated people or not are experiencing democracy now for the first time after a long Mobutu dictatorship.
The country has endured political and social turmoil since gaining independence from Belgium in 1960. Sixteen years after the dictator Mobutu announced the democratic process in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the country have organize many political meetings (the Sovereign National Conference, Conclave Politique de Kinshasa, the Political Concertations in 1994, the Lusaka Cease-fire Agreement in August 1999, the Gaborone meeting, the Inter-Congolese Dialogue in Republic of South Africa...) for building this democratic way, but in practice, nothing is going well.
It is actually very interest to know how is going this last transitional democratic process from Inter-Congolese Dialogue and how it can contribute to create a strong and true democratic state or if it is even just a pseudo-democratic process as others. The Democratic Republic of the Congo is one of the African countries which offering the world a very bad surprising; it shows its own full incapacity to solve political conflict from 1960 till today.
Patrice Emery Lumumba was assassinated by the American and Belgium manipulation (9(*)) and involvement in 1961. Then, the DRC and its people, including neighboring states in central Africa have since seen no peace but always troubles.
I know that in Africa, military coups became the order of the day in 60 and 70s. The targets were nationalist regimes, which wanted to carve out an independent space and give their sovereignty a modicum of reality. I know that between January 1956 and the end of 1985 there were sixty successful coups in Africa. In 1966 alone there were eight military coup d' etat and by 1986, out of some 50 African states, only 18 were under civilian rule.
But even most of African nations took also independencies on the same period but don't present actually something like a Congolese political inefficient ruling. Then, why and how this country must do for bringing political change and democratic state to its citizens after 46 years of freedom?
V. Methodology and Outlines of Chapters
In this honours's dissertation, I like to use same methodological approaches like social, documentary and descriptive approaches which are allowed to help me to achieve my purpose. Sometimes I can use also a critical analysis from modern Congolese scientists.
The dissertation contains three chapters. In the first one, I am presenting briefly the Congolese political historical overview from the Berlin conference till now. In the second chapter, I am focusing on the constitutional referendum which took place in the country on the 18 December 2005, particularly its political context and what the new Congolese constitution provided as state form, political regime, judiciary system... for the next Republic.
In the third chapter, the last, I am studying the Democratic Republic of the Congo democratic process's election, particularly the first round and the second round which is opposing Jean-Pierre Bemba with Joseph Kabila. After that, I will make a conclusion.
* 1 Callaghy Thomas M.: The State-Society Struggle. Zaire in Comparative Perspective, 1984, p.144
* 2 Sir Ivor JENNINGS: Democracy in Africa. Cambridge University Press, 1963, p.22
* 3 Ibidem
* 4 LEFORT Claude: Democracy and Political Theory, Cambridge, Polity Press, 1988, p.
* 5 See www.ukzn/ac.za/ccs/default.asp?5,50,5,334
* 6 DALA Diana F.: `Political engagement of catholic church in the democratization process of the
Democratic Republic of Congo: Analysis of a commitment for a new Congolese political leadership
towards democracy'. Honours's dissertation, Wits University, Scholl of Social Science, Faculty of
Humanities, January 2006, p.1.
* 7 It was 6.128 memorandums from people asking democratic process in the country.
* 8 ABDOULAYE W. said that when he was a Congolese mediator political conflict early in 1990 years in
Kinshasa. Fifteen years late, Congolese people give him full reason.
* 9 www.ukzn/ac/za/ccs/default.asp?5,50, 5,334 (2006 October 24).