Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Makerere University professor of history Mwambutsya Ndebesa has described the presidential election outcome in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) as “a classic and new innovation in rigging elections in Africa”.
DR Congo’s National Electoral Commission (Ceni) this morning released provisional results of the much-delayed elections showing opposition candidate Felix Tshisekedi of the Union for Democracy and Social Progress, with the French acronym UDPS, in the lead with seven million votes.
In second position is another opposition coalition candidate Martin Fayulu, who many opinion polls, pundits and the powerful Catholic Church had tipped to win, coming second with 6.4 million votes.
The ruling coalition candidate, Emmanuel Shadary, fronted by outgoing president Joseph Kabila is third with 4.4 million votes.
Already Fayulu has already dismissed the results as an “electoral coup”, while Tshisekedi’s supporters are in jubilation.
The DRC and Uganda, apart from sharing a long common border and ethnic links have commonalities in things like trade, politics, cross-border politics and much more.
Commenting on the DRC elections, Ndebesa says president Kabila on realizing that his protégé Shadary was unsellable decided to rig the elections in favour of Tshisekedi who is not only a weak candidate but one he can do business with.
Ndebesa says with most opinion polls and the Catholic Church favouring Fayulu, it is unlikely that Tshisekedi is the real winner, adding that the sudden change of fortune after prolonged delay in announcing the results smacks of foul play.
According to Ndebesa, as things stand he is pessimistic that peace and stability will return to the DRC because the majority of the people have been denied their preferred choice, pointing out that there is likely to be violence which does not augur well for democracy.
Ndebesa says a peaceful, stable and developing DRC is good for Uganda, but in the current scheme of things Uganda and the region should wait a little longer for it to reap any dividends.
Instead of being progressive, Ndebesa says Kabila has pulled off a first in Africa, by innovating a new way of rigging elections, a sad tactic that will be copied by many dictators on the continent.
The sub-county chairperson of Panyimur in Pakwach District and a keen watcher of developments in the DRC, Shaban Ofoy, says the win of Tshisekedi is very surprising to voters in the East because he was literally a no-show.
Ofoy says many Congolese along the border are scratching their heads about what befell their favourite Fayulu, but are also optimistic that perhaps a new and better era is on with the exit of Kabila.
According to Ofoy, a stable and peaceful DRC will have many spillover benefits for Uganda in terms of trade, travel and reduced pressure on social services like health and education.
Ofoy says improved infrastructure in the DRC, particularly roads, would significantly boost trade with Uganda, citing how it takes days for a trader to access markets in DRC’s hinterland.
Yunus Wo’Mata, a cross-border businessman based in Dei, a trading post on across to Mahagi Port, says many Congolese although disappointed that neither Fayulu nor Shadary won feel that Thisekedi could be a “compromise” leader.
According to Wo’Mata, had Fayulu won he would have faced stiff resistance from Shadary and Kabila supporters and the reverse would have been the same with Fayulu’s supporters had Shadary won.
Wo’Mata says if peace and stability returns to the DRC there would be a lot of benefits for Uganda, especially in trade.