Monday, 30 January 2012

South Africa and DRC’s elections

Written by Gael Masengi
During the last year’s UN summit on climate change (COP 17) in Durban, President Jacob Zuma was literally forced to explain himself in front of the entire world when he was questioned by a Congolese activist the role of South Africa on vote rigging allegations in the Democratic Republic of Congo’s November elections. Mr President defended his government and blamed Congolese people themselves for their problems, he recalled Nelson Mandela’s mediation on the 1997’s Laurent D. Kabila and Mobutu Seseseko crisis and former president Thabo Mbeki’s involvement on 2002’s “Dialogue Intercongolais” talks which brought peace between the government and former rebel movements, reminding how his country has “always been there” for Congolese people.
Those comments didn’t seem to convince Congolese immigrants in South Africa who came in number to support their fellow country mates who were to appear in Hillbrow magistrate court, arrested during a raid of police targeting anti-Kabila activists in Johannesburg last Thursday. Songs like “Zuma! Leave Congo!”, “Kabila! Must Go!” were heard sung by angry protesters.  South Africa is seen as a heaven for immigrants and refugees from all over the African continent who come in the country in number every day to look for a better life, the continent economy power house has helped the DRC to organise its elections. But why are their efforts being thrown back at their face? Many asked!
November’s polls were the second in the country, mainly funded by the Congolese government since the 1998-2003 war, which claimed an estimated five million lives mostly in mineral richest eastern part of Congo. Contrary to the critics from international observers, the Southern Africa Community Development (SADC) observer mission, led the South African minister of Correctional Services Nosiviwe Mapisa Nqakula applauded the “sterling” job done by the DRC’s election commission (CENI). SADC joined the African Union in urging candidates to accept the outcome of the “successful’ elections. The South Africa run SADC has been criticised by many analysts for handling DRC’s elections the same way they have been doing in Zimbabwe since 2000. A question has been asked if South Africa itself stills a democratic country, many don’t think so. The ANC prefers to support dictators and leaving alone the oppressed African people, the South African ruling party came out openly to announce its support to the bloody regime of Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe in this year’s election. Instead of pushing for a democratic change in the DRC, leaders of the South African government seem keen to protect their personal interests. The S.A foreign policy had its credibility in balance by openly denying the Dalai Lama an entry visa to attend the 80th birthday celebration of a fellow Nobel Prize laureate, Desmond Tutu, raging human rights activists who criticised the government’s behaviour as a capitulation to China. The arch-bishop Tutu called its conduct disgraceful and discourteous toward his Holiness the Dalai Lama.
At some point, South Africa is playing its biggest trading partner’s game (China) of not ‘interfering’ on other’s domestic affairs even if that particular regime kills its own people. 
“Gadhafi will not quit” declared President Jacob Zuma during his visit to the late Muhammar Gadhafi in Libya amid people uprising in May last year, again favouring personal interests over the people’s.
Days after the elections in DRC, alerted Congolese activists seized fresh ballot papers which were being flown for Johannesburg’s O.R Tambo International Airport to Kinshasa and Lubumbashi (second city), the activists were forced out but manage to film the events.
If the South African government want to regain the credibility of its foreign policy has lost since the days of Nelson Mandela, it will use every international mechanics at its disposal to push for a democratic outcome in the DRC. Until then, it should not recognise Joseph Kabila as the rightful president of the DRC. Noted Kenneth Mubu of the opposition in South Africa (DA)

Monday, 23 January 2012

South Africa is determined to silence Anti-Kabila activists!

Written by Gael Masengi
In the afternoon of Thursday the 19th, Yeoville a suburb of Johannesburg, South Africa became a scene extreme beating and crackdown on Congolese of opposition factions.
Around 4pm dozens of police vans, SUVs, mini-buses and trucks barged nearby Time Square, a famous bar in the neighbourhood, without warning or explanation, the notorious South African men on uniforms start slapping and kicking everyone who’s identified as a Congolese national.
Yeoville is a vibrant pan-African area, a home of many immigrants from the continent and thousands of Congolese alike. Since the November’s elections, Congolese pro-democracy mostly UDPS (Etienne Tshisekedi’s party) members have been gathering in a community park to discuss and strategize their “next move” of contesting against the supposedly re-election of Joseph Kabila, an election marred by serious irregularities revealed by the Carter Centre, strongly rejected by the opposition and the Congolese Catholic Church. Dispersed many times but always present at their usual place.
The raid isn’t the first but the worst, men and women was forcedly taken out of their homes, shops, hair salons, internet café and bars beaten up and arrested. For three hours the place was transformed to a “No-Go-Zone” for Congolese expats and refugees, apparently the operation was led by a man who’s identified as “Zombie” Fabrice , an imposing man wearing Joseph Kabila branded t-shirt.
A 24 years old male, who asked not to be named, told me: “I was inside Supa Bet [sports betting shop] suddenly Zombie came in accompanied by the police, he was pointing at people if he pointed at you, and they beat you and proceeds to an arrest. Two of my friends were arrested.”  He said.
Many people were reportedly injured and three had broken legs.
“Two people was afraid to be beaten up, they jumped off from a 3 meters high balcony, eventually got broken legs.” He added.
A Special task force arrested the suspects after a series of clashes between expatriate supporters of Congolese president Joseph Kabila and opposition leader Etienne Tshisekedi, police spokesman Dennis Adriao.
Comments dismissed by an activist who AFP quoted saying the arrests were politically motivated.
“The government of the DRC wants to silence Congolese that were campaigning for democracy in the DRC here in South Africa,” said Jean-Pierre Lukamba, the deputy chairman of the African Diaspora Forum (ADF).
Over 200 of the DRC community members were arrested on ludicrous, trumped up charges of “public violence” and held at the Hillbrow Police station. Many of those sought out and arrested are community and political activists opposed to the Kabila regime in their home country. Last year these activists led a protest in front of the ANC’s Luthuli House against the outcome of recent elections in the country and the ANC and the South African government’s political and financial support for the Kabila regime. Several activists managed to escape arrest and since gone to ground, while the South African Police Service (SAPS) actively ‘seeks’ them out for arrest.
After the mass arrests on Thursday, the SAPS publicly stated that their ‘operation’ was against “illegal immigrants”. The ‘operation’ was clearly a politically motivated targeting of anti-Kabila DRC activists living in South Africa. It has become clear that the ANC and the government it runs are intent on harassing and intimidating anti-Kabila DRC activists in South Africa.
Since then many have been released and 26 were supposed to appear in Johannesburg High court on Monday 23 January charged with 'public violence'. However the session was postponed on January 31 2011, raging thousands of supporters who came in court since early that morning. The crowd accompanied by photojournalists were escorted by police, people cheered as they entered Yeoville with chants and slogan in favour of Etienne Tshisekedi.
                                                                               Additional text: Amadla! News. 

Monday, 16 January 2012

Press Freedom just a Dream?

Written by Gael Masengi
Is Press freedom just a dream for broadcasters and publishers in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)? Yes, that’s whatI think. The country is no stranger to media freedom abuse, yet last year’s presidential and legislatives elections have shown just that! This week, the capital Kinshasa has witness “the witch hunt”, a systematic chasseon newspapers vendors.
Freedom For Journalist (FFJ), a country based media dog watch condemned in the strongest terms the crackdown and systematic chasse on streets newspapers vendors by security force on January 11th and 12th. According to information obtained from eye witnesses, the organisation stated that two pickup trucks full of hyper equipped policemen barged into the famous papers sale point of “Place Victoire” in Kinshasa before proceeding, without warning, to disperse the vendors, confiscate by force newspapers and arrest other. Newspapers sales have since been paralysed at the entire city.
Police accuses the vendors of causing the crowd to gather [and discuss politics], which is forbidden since the publication of elections results by the electoral body CENI. In Kinshasa, the tension is high, amplified the supposedly re-election of Joseph Kabila, contested by international observers, strongly rejected by the opposition and the Catholic Church, a powerful and influential institution in a Christian country. Newspapers vendors on their side have decided to go on strike in protest against the police’s cowardice actions.
The organisation invites police hierarchy to end this kind of operations which not only tarnish its image already damaged but also to release the detained vendors.
“FFJ condemn this restriction of information and remain in solidarity with all the newspapers vendors which contribute to the diffusion of information” declared a FFJ’s official.
While the country is in electoral hold-up caused by the fraud machine of National Electoral ‘Independent’ Commission (CENI), another tool causes chaos in media is the state run media regulatory agency Congolese Broadcasting and Communications Superior Council (CSAC).
RTLJ, a Lubumbashi (south-east) based TV station has been given seven days of suspension by the CSAC, the station is reproached by the notorious media regulatory of broadcasting insulting comments toward certain high personalities. The station denies all allegations made against it.
Congolese Media Observatory (OMEC) an independent press auto- regulatory qualifies the behaviour as anti-constitutional and demands an immediate reopening of all media outlets reduced to silence, the organisation calls CSAC to get out of its torpor and to regulate [fairly] and in accordance to its mandate.
For how long will the west continue to back an illegitimate government?

Monday, 9 January 2012

JED wants the media regulatory CSAC shut down!

Written by Gael Masengi

The opposition in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) suffer from what I call a complete Media Blackout caused by the illegitimate government. With all their friendly TV channels, radio and newspapers shut down, it’s becoming difficult for the opposition to get their message out. The UDPS and the UNC (main opp. Parties) are left in the dark, last week the French government-funded station Radio France Internationale (RFI) was suspended for broadcasting a message addressed by E. Tshisekedi, defeated popular presidential candidate who rejected the elections results supposedly won by Joseph Kabila, declared himself president and subsequently sworn-in in his Limete residence in Kinshasa. The New York based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) condemned the temporary suspension of all six FM frequencies for RFI by the govt of DRC.
Given to all of those allegations, the media watchdog call on the “high authorities” of the country to shut down the media regulatory agency Congolese Broadcasting and Communications Superior Council (CSAC)

On its annual reports published on December 28, last year, the country’s media watch dog Journalist In Danger (Journaliste En Danger, JED) denounced more than hundreds cases of violation of press freedom and called on ‘president’ Kabila to disband the state run media regulatory (CSAC) for “failing on its mission to [fairly] regulate the media”. JED accuses the CSAC of “multiple political interferences on media which violate its [CSAC] laws”. According to the organisation “the interferences cause failure to the media regulatory on its mission to protect the rights of journalists and to encourage media’s professionalism”

These acts have been mostly taking place on opposition strong hold areas like Kasai (central) where managers and directors of TV stations close to the opposition are being attacked, jailed and sometime threatened to death. In Kinshasa, the capital city, Canal Future (CFTV) saw its signal cut off since last November for ten days. The signal loss came as the channel was reporting on irregularities during the presidential and legislatives elections. The station was accused of broadcasting “false information without proof against other candidate [the outgoing president Joseph Kabila]”.  Three days after the suspension date expired, the signal has never been established and that without any further explanation from the CSAC.

Radio Lisanga Television (RLTV), a main opposition station, was forbidden to broadcast on Saturday 3rd last December for seven days by CSAC. In its turn, the channel was accused of “publishing the results of November 28 elections, which didn’t come from the electoral body (CENI)”. Its provincial office in Mbuji-Mayi was sieged by the men on uniforms heavily armed. Since then its signals was cut off until today. From December 3rd 2011, the text message service known as SMS was shut down from all the networks around the country by the order of deputy prime minister/minister of home affairs and security, a measure he said was taken “to preserve public order and to assure a good achievement of the electoral process” despite protests from population, condemnations by human rights activists, the banned hasn’t been lifted (as of 30 December 2011).   

Also in Belgium, former colonial power, where “Anti-Kabila” manifestations have been taking place since the electoral body CENI published the results in favour of Joseph Kabila, French speaking media have been criticised by the opposition supporters, accusing them of showing what they call “pro-Kabila attitude” and reporting unfairly on the on-going “electoral Hold-Up”. Last week-end mostly supporters of Etienne Tshisekedi rallied in Louvain to protest against the November 28 election results after they were forbidden to do so in capital city of Brussels however they praise Flemish press for criticising Kabila regime.


Monday, 2 January 2012

Media coverage on Congolese senator violent attack in Paris!

Written by Gael Masengi

On Saturday December 31st 2011 around 17h (GMT) the 76 years old Congolese senator Leon Kengo wa Dondo was attacked by a group of unknown “fighters” at Gare du Nord train station in Paris, the spokesperson of the government Lambert Mende, jumped in to blame the main rival of the fraudulently elected president Joseph Kabila for the attack.

The president of senate was attacked in gare du Nord by a band of self-claimed ‘combattants’ supporters of Etienne Tshisekedi” he told the AFP. The attack precede the announce by Lambert Mende of the suspension again of RFI (Radio France Internationale).

RFI Signal cut

“A decision was taken [to cut off the signal] until Tuesday because the government didn’t appreciate the way RFI try to sabotage or constitution law” the signal cut follow the broadcasting of Tshisekedi’s State of the Nation Address by the station, Mr Mende accuse RFI of ‘creating deliberately a confusion.’
I’m not in position to decide; onlythe media regulator CSAC (ConseilSupérieure de l’audiovisuelet de la communication) can do so. He added

RFI signal was severally cut off before the swearing-in ceremony of EtienneTshisekedi, on December 23 at Stadium of Martyr’s in Kinshasa, accusing the station of “promoting the event”

  Kengo attacked

 What struck me more is not the missing teeth of Mr Senator but the media coverage of the incident, while  I     was trying to figure it out, one website already did!In an article published by, the editor in chief of the news website, Roger Bongo asks the same question as well

“It’s now all over the [international] press!  News of the attack of our “beloved” president of senate brings back the media’s attention...will it ask for more violent attacks for our cause to get enough coverage by the ‘difficult’ international media? He asks.
It seems to him and many others that, this is the only way to get their message across the world and draw attention of the international community on what’s really going-on in the country. He goes on to denounce the coverage on media of the death of twenty height peaceful UDPS supporters shot and killed by Kabila’s personal army on November 26 under the watchful eyes of journalists from around the world.

“It’s has been 3 years, Congolese people protest in the streets of Paris, London, Brussels and other cities around the world but no media ever seemed interested in their struggle. Two or three teeth go missing in the mouth of second personality of the DRC, there they are!”  He adds.

French media such as Le Monde, le Point, Yahoo info, AFP, France 24, i télé, TF1, France 2, BFM TV and many moreat least run the story once or twice. As the government try to blame it on opposition members, an activist on his Facebook page asks some important questions on Mr Kengo’s attackers.

“The beating of DRC head of senate, and Congolese presidential candidate KengoWaDondoraises more questions than it answers- is it possible that Kengobeating could have been carried out by agent provocateurs of the DRC government?”
    ·      How did the so-called “combattants” know Kengo’s whereabouts?
    ·      Why was the beating not filmed but Kengo in his car? The 45 second video released on Vimeo after the  beating showed him bleeding in his car heading to the hospital not the beating itself
    ·       How does the Congo’s minister of information, Lambert Mende get his information to say it was Tshisekedi’s s supporters? At the present time, no group claimed the responsibility of the act. So far all we know is that Mr Kengo was attacked by unidentified persons. The activist pointed out that “Remember this is the same guy [Mr Mende] who said to the media that, the government did not shut down the SMS text service. (Later he admitted, kind of a flip flopper right?)
    ·    Why has the word press not asked Kengo for evidence that it was Tshisekedi‘s supporters who injured him?
He concluded with an interesting question as of “why has the YouTube ‘video of the attack’ got the Ingeta logo (Ingeta is a group of a diaporaCongolese movement) attached to it? Notice the [original] YouTube videotakes 45 seconds and got turned to a 2 minutes adding Ingeta logo and song about support to       Tshisekedi.

It is possible that we are assisting in propaganda war between the illegitimate government of theDRC and the opposition members.