Monday, 26 March 2012

Why the Francophonie Summit should be moved from Kinshasa!

Written by Gael Masengi
Just months away from the 14th Francophonie summit, to be held in Kinshasa, there is a significant increase calls of boycott from pro-democracy Congolese activists to the IOF (International Organisation of the Francophonie) to not organise the next summit in the Democratic Republic of Congo citing political unrest and serious human rights violations by the current regime.
Created in 1970 under the Niamey Treaty in Niger, the Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie (OIF) comprises 75 countries and governments. It is an international organisation of politics and governments with French as the mother and customary language, where a significant proportion of people are French speakers, or where there is notable affiliation with the French language and culture. Every two years, OIF holds ‘the heads of states and governments Summit’ to discuss on various issues affecting the country members, during the 13th summit held in Montreux, Switzerland; the Democratic Republic of Congo was designated as the host of this year’ events, but human rights activists along with the majority of Congolese people are increasingly expressing sentiments of frustration and anger toward the IOF which they accuse of ‘disregarding’ the on-going political crisis in the DRC.
Democracy, peace and human rights protection are the key objectives the Secretary General of the organisation, Abdou Diouf, highlighted during his address at the 19th annual of United Nations Human Rights Counsel in Geneva. He emphasized on these issues and reminded the country members that democracy and most of all human rights should be the principles of the organisation, a call which human rights activists say it’s has no effect to the Congolese government. The democratic Republic of Congo has become a country where officials violate universal laws whenever they want, the government kill, torture and arrest arbitrary members of opposition, organising a summit which promote peace in a country where such values are not respected will portray a bad image for the OIF.    
 A MONUSCO (United Nations mission in Congo) report released last week shows serious human rights violations, including the killings, arbitrary detention and disappearance committed during the electoral period. The UN joint Human Rights Office of DRC’ investigations published, coincidently on International Francophonie Day (March 20th) documents at least 33 people were killed in cold blood in Kinshasa alone, between 26 November and 25 December 2011, by bullets and many more are still missing. Most of the reported cases of violations involved Republican Guard (Joseph Kabila’s personal gangs) soldiers of forces were mentioned but at lesser extent, the report on the other hand have just put emphasis on something human rights defenders vigorously blame the Congolese government for.
“The Democratic Republic of Congo is not the rightful place to host any international event under the kabila regime.” said Jacky L. a political analyst “If the OIF go ahead and organise the Summit there, not only it will contradict the organisation’ so-called democratic status but it will also ruin its reputation.” She said
One of the growing boycott calls is from a Canada based Congolese activist, who started a hunger strike to raise awareness about the human rights issues in the DRC. Like others, Frederick Mwenengabo is asking the Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper not to attend the Francophonie Summit in Kinshasa this November.
Analysts believe that rejection of elections results specifically in Africa have become ritual, therefore claims are not taken seriously by the international community and despite the current political situation in the DRC, it’s unlikely for the organisers to move the summit to another country. Because by rewarding Kinshasa the rights to organise the event, the OIF may already took in consideration all of these factors. However, last summit (2010) was moved from Madagascar to Switzerland for the very same reason, the OIF cited political instability after the disputed presidential election but unlike Antananarivo, the situation in Kinshasa may not look “too bad” and it’s not “too good” either, an eerie calm that should worry the international community.      

Monday, 19 March 2012

Congolese Musicians face career uncertainties.

Written by Gael Masengi

The music industry in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is in ‘stand-still’ mode as the country’s political status quo remains uncertain, overseas based Congolese activists had decided to boycott until ‘further notice’ any musical activities from musicians who are stated of collaborating with the repressive regime of Kinshasa.
Multi awards winning Congolese musicians are accused of endorsing and campaigning for the embattling recently re-elected president, Joseph Kabila whom they see as a dictator and personally blame for the continuous mass rape of women and death of millions in the Eastern part of the DRC. Known as “Patriots-combatants” or “fighters”, the activists said, although music will always play a major part on Congolese culture but it has become a tool of distraction of people’s mind towards unimportant priorities and values instead of focus on finding real solutions to the country’s long-term problems.

“Politicians are using these popular musicians to distract the people from protesting and uprising against the ‘do-nothing’ government therefore we decide to cut any relation with them, we don’t want them here in France or anywhere else in Europe” said a Paris based activist. “Our sisters and daughters are being raped every 30 minutes by the rebels who are dealing with the Kabila regime and people who supposed to use their popular power [musicians] are turning blind eyes instead they praising them.”

Activists reproach the artists of being irresponsible and failing to address the real issues that the country faces rather than taking money from the same corrupted politicians, several musicians have seen their shows disrupted lately. Two times MTV awards winner and BET Awards nominee, Fally Ipupa was a victim of extreme actions from the activists as they stormed the stage and causing the concert to stop suddenly while performing in Paris’ Zenith arena. The attacks are part of a worldwide “Anti-Kabila” protest movements which saw members of Congolese diaspora in Brussels, Paris, London, Berlin, Vienna, Ottawa, Washington D.C and recently in Johannesburg and Cape Town (South Africa) marching against the controversial re-election of Joseph Kabila.
In Paris and London, homes of large Congolese communities were once the profitable markets of music, today turned into opposition overseas-strong hold, producers and distributors have also expressed concern of losing millions of dollars on revenue while investing on their products and one is willing to buy CDs or DVDs anymore. Popularly known as “Kwasa-Kwasa”, Congolese music had dominated the African continent since the 1950s, the charm combination of Caribbean rhythm, rumba and ‘sebene’is irresistible to the ears of many fellow Africans, concerts were money making machines as not only Congolese nationals would attend in large number on week-ends,also members of other communities but they turned to a deserted site with many fearing to be attacked by angry protesters. Musicians are willing to open a dialogue between the influential members of diaspora to bury the hatchet but the activists seem not to be ready.

Europe is not the only continent where the fighters are active. The title has almost become synonymous with Congolese in the diaspora or at home, strongly opposed to Joseph Kabila.  Noted CongoForum

Monday, 12 March 2012

DRC, Africa and the Digital Television era!

Written by Gael Masengi
At the age of digital media, African second largest country, the Democratic Republic of Congo is showing no sign of catching up any time soon with the industry’s fast moving speed.
Terrestrial free-to-air commercial and public alike television operators in several African countries are preparing for what they call ‘digital migration’ as the industry is rapidly shifting from analogue to digital broadcasting, broadcasters are feeling pressured by the process, however money remain a major obstacle for infrastructures development in the impoverished continent. The transition is in accordance with the Geneva 2006 agreement of the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), which saw several Europeans countries after years of broadcasting on analogue switching to digital. In Africa, the Southern African Development Community (SADC) digital team had also agreed to adopt the second generation of Digital Terrestrial Television known as Digital Video Broadcasting (DVB-T2) for terrestrial television use, SADC member countries include Angola, Botswana, DRC, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Seychelles, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe have all ratified; while the rest remain undecided.
A Congolese professional videographer ‘Gael On Media’ spoke to lately, acknowledged it’s either lack of technological knowledge or financial support that is holding back the DRC to advance and hopefully to compete in years to come with other developing countries in the continent but he underlined the lack of willingness from the government to equip at least the state television.
 “I worked as an intern in RTNC [Congolese state TV] we had no teleprompter, the public broadcaster still got no formal high definition cameras many things have to be done over there’ He said.
When asked if the state is making any sort of effort to modernise the out-dated equipment and any possibility the country to take the digital way, since the technology is becoming conventional, he said the DRC is still far from turning that corner and perhaps the government should first consider a joint operation with a developed country to train the staff. The Democratic Republic of Congo is home of hundreds privately owned commercial and evangelical free-to-air television and radio, the transition to such platform will be beneficial to operators and viewers but the country’s economy is making the process almost impossible.
The move to Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT) still a big challenge as millions of dollars are needed to be injected on the process, the continent economy power house, South Africa is also struggling to complete the switchover. Last year the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) announced a “soft launch” on the platform in April this year but the public broadcaster wants ‘some’ billions of rand (millions of dollars) from the government in order to achieve it. The DTT roll-out will require major upgrades from the broadcasting companies and consumers as set top boxes (STB) or decoders will be needed to decode the new signal which will be digitally transmitted.
At some point the ‘all-digital’ roll-out is seen as “business spoiler” to pay TV giants, namely, Multichoice Africa (owner of DStv) and the French company Canal+ (CanalSat Horizon) which express concern of market sharing with many rivals, the SABC is an example. The corporation plans to take a full advantage of the platform, it’s preparing to invest heavily on contents and creating some new channels.

With the already existing DVB-H (Digital Video Broadcasting Handheld) technology offered by DStv Mobile, one thing is for sure, Africa is really moving to the right direction.

Monday, 5 March 2012

Who wanted Joseph Kabila’s advisor out ?

Written by Gael Masengi

Senior politicians at the Congolese presidency privately accused Joseph Kabila’s influential advisor Augustin Katumba Mwanke (AKM) of “planning a coup d’├ętat” and wanted him “immediately arrested and further investigated”, the presidency leaked document recently obtained by “Gael On Media” through our anonymous contact in the UK show. 

A non-signed leaked document dated from 2010, titled:“Safety Intelligence regarding His Excellency Mr President of Republic” subtitled“Strategy of enemy to destabilize president Joseph Kabila”,written by a former DRC ambassador to Tanzania and the presidential House hold Ambassador, Theodore Mugalu, suggested that a measure of prevention of an alleged coup against the commandant- in-chef had to be taken.

“A project of assassination is underway in which Joseph Kabila is the prime target”, wrote Mugalu.

“It had started since ‘ the Sun City Peace Agreements’ in South Africa, Augustin Katumba Mwanke publicly shows his desire to either succeed or maliciously replace Joseph Kabila as the president of the Democratic Republic of Congo” read ‘Chapter one’ of the document.

“To establish his authority, dominate the [Congolese] political arena and monopolized the supreme power, AKM is rapidly and criminally pilling up personal wealth instead of governmental’s. Mugalu underlined some of his properties; an entire street is named after Katumba in Sunning Hill, Sandton (a luxurious residential area of Northern Johannesburg), South Africa. Among the accomplices, Evariste Boshab, the ruling party’s General Secretary is cited to have transferred millions of euros from and to ‘AKM’s’ various European bank accounts. Nationally, Mugalu accused Katumba of demoralising and poisoning Kabila’s military entourage and internationally Mwanke was said to alienate his [Kabila’s] image to the western diplomats and citing him of enriching Iran with uranium. The classified document also notes that, in early 2009, apparently the French was convinced by the above accusations, France’s ambassador in Kinshasa reportedly qualified Joseph Kabila as unfit and difficult to work with.
“[Joseph] Kabila is a burden for his country because He shows not to be in measure to intelligently work with foreign powers [Europeans]…fortunately ministers and other government members can do the job” referring to Marcelin Chisambo (South Kivu governor) as a better example.

“To finalised his malicious plan of assassinating President Kabila” Mugalu notes “he [AKM] sought help from the French ambassador to compensate [the neighbouring] Angola in order to establish a military base in the Angolan-Congolese bordered city of Tshikapa (stating C.I.A as the source). He will latter initiate a rebellion attack from the city, draw Kabila in the battlefield and shoot him down”

Theodore Mugalu talked about what he called a “diplomatic detoxification”, hewrote that due to the undermining accusations, in whichthe president was being considered from then, by the westerners as ‘a less reliable political partner’ whom AKM helped to portray as uranium dealer and the enemy of world peace. He also proposed a preventive measure had to be taken and the guilty have to be seriously prosecuted. 

“It’s important to urgently stop in a robust way this malicious plan against President Joseph Kabila by proceeding to an immediate arrest of Mister Augustin Katumba Mwanke….along with his well-known accomplices such as Evariste Boshab (parliament speaker), Janine Mabunda, Carole Agito (national assurance)….and many top officials at public enterprises"
“It is up to us, Pierre Lumbi and [myseIf] Theodore Mugalu to immediately erase that bad image of the president by the mean of diplomatic detoxification”.

As a pastor, Mugalu concludes with biblical verses: “Do not exalt yourself in the king’s presence, and do not claim a place among great men” - Proverbs 25:6,7. “Remove thewicked before the king, and his throne shall be established in righteousness”.

AKM’s sudden death.
On the afternoon of Sunday 13th 2012, the news of a private plane crash broke; on board four of Joseph Kabila key associates including Augustin Katumba Mwanke (senior advisor at the time and elected Member of Parliament). AKM, the man once known as ‘Dick Cheney of DRC’ was confirmed dead along with two South African pilots; among the seriously wounded was governor Marcelin Chisambo, Matata Ponyo and Antoine Ghonda, finance minister and itinerant ambassador respectively. The horrible accident of these top government officials amid political unrest in the country obviously left many people wondering. A close source to Marcelin Chisambo said that the governor was attending a wedding ceremony hours before the crash, he was taken by surprise to a destination he wasn’t allowed to ask. The accident got mixed reactions from the members of opposition and public at large, many political analysts secretly called it an “obvious” case of “eliminate or be eliminated”. 
“It may have been a planned hit as he [Katumba] was being accused of planning something against Kabila” said an analyst who asked not to be named.

The man who once was seen as the brain behind the large central African country’s wealth died in a blink of an eye and got a quick burial.