DRC elections: Downpours,no internet drudgery and a fisherman’s find on the way to a Mandela- inspired tomorrow?

PUBLISHED: Wed, 02 Jan 2019 15:35:29 GMT

By Chris Bishop, head of programming CNBC Africa

The results of the Democratic Republic of Congo’s rare elections are expected this weekend, according to a special adviser to one of the candidates promising a business friendly government and Mandela-style reconciliation for the war torn, yet mineral rich,nation.

It has been a journey of drudgery, downpours, allegations of fraud and protest since the polls opened on December 30 to find a successor to Joseph Kabila. He has stepped down after nearly two decades running the country that his father, Laurent, who died in a mysterious assassination in 2001, took control of in 1997 after overthrowing Mobuto Sese Seko.

Felix Tshisekedi, the son of a former minister who studied in Belgium and set up his own delivery business in Brussels after years working in the Post Office, is fighting it out with former Exxon Mobil manager and opposition lawmaker Martin Fayulu and the man with Kabila’s vote, former interior minister Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary.

“The latest we are leading by between 40 and 45%, in 13 out of 14 provinces. Around 70% of the vote has been counted and we understand all the votes have been captured,” says Claude Ibalanky Ekolomba, the special adviser to Tshisekedi .

“Overall we are excited and extremely confident. We are leading the race at the moment.”

Read: DRC elections: Opposition, ruling coalition both say they’ve won, here’s why

Ibalanky Ekolomba, who is visiting Johannesburg, admits it is difficult to keep contact with the people back in the DRC with the internet shut down by the state for fear it may stir unrest.

“We have ways to get through, it is not always reliable but we do and it is the people on the ground who know what is happening,” he says. He pointed to a case of alleged fraud where a bag of votes for Tshisekedi were found by a fisherman in a river near Lake Kivu who simply picked it up and reported it to the authorities.

“You cannot stop 30 million people witnessing their own election and when things are happening we are told.”

Ibalanky Ekolomba says Tshisekedi wants to be a business friendly president, if elected, in search of the foreign direct investment that the DRC desperately needs to reap the rewards of its rich minerals. Tshisekedi did not plan to cancel contracts with foreign companies as had been done before after changes of government.

“If we find a mistake in a contract we will engage and see how we are going to correct it,” he says.

“Some people are fearing we will be hard on business but not at all – we will be open for business.”

Tshisekedi also promises to appoint people to government on merit.

“Fighting corruption and money laundering. There will be no witch hunt among people who were members of the former government, we will be saying let’s build this country together just like Mandela did,” says Ibalanky Ekolomba. 

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