Tuesday, November 29, 2011

In DRC it is Time to Write Joseph Kabila's Political Obituary

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Joseph Kabila is politically finished. He is in the final process of dying and his obituary must be prepared.

Rigging he will. He might stay on for ten or twenty more years. Considering his big ego, he might even declare himself as a life president. However, none of this will save him. His political death is imminent and inevitable. A man with such deep contempt for democracy and the rule of law should not deserve to live.

There is little in Kabila that one may find desirable. Paul Kagame, his neighbor to the east and mentor-in-arms, justifies his legitimacy by manipulating history, and portraying himself as a hero. Kabila does not have such privilege. He was basically a nobody before his father cut and pasted him into Congo's politics. His accomplishments are mediocre, to say the least.

Kabila's past is a closet darkened with skeletons.  He was in charge of an infamous battalion of child solders during the 1996 invasion that toppled Mobutu. This legion he commanded was responsible for many atrocities in the DRC, including the killing of Rwandan Hutu refugees. On his march to Kinshasa, his thugs spared no one.

In  2000, his father (many Congolese believe he was adopted) appointed him as the chief of staff of the land forces. He held this position for one year, until his father death in 2001. There are suspicious accounts implicating him in his fathers death. Whether this is true or not, it is not exaggerated to describe him as a man with a huge appetite for power.

During his rule, Kabila has presided over a despicable human rights record. Granted, his appetite for power is yet to outmatch Kagame's. However, his is following in a similar path. There has been assassinations and disappearances of opponents. Many are languishing in jails for political crimes. There is reason to believe that he might have played a role in the killing of human rights activist Floribert Chibeya. His hands are deeply soaked in blood.

It is a shame that this are the kind of people that continue to rule Africa. Despite Congo's massive mineral wealth, the DRC remains a chronically impoverished country. British parliamentarian Eric Joyce has implicated him in a financial scandal that led to the stealing of $5.5 billion. Minerals were undervalued with kick backs going to Kabila and his cronies. When one considers that $5 billion is thought to have been the total net-worth of Mubutu (the chief kleptocrat) when he left office, Kabila comes of as a much bigger thief.

In 2006, the main reason why people voted for him was the hope for security. Five years later, the DRC is the worst place for a woman to live. Rape as a weapon of war is being used by thugs in the east, some working closely with the government. He has failed to arrests Bosco Ntaganda, a leading rapist and serial killer. To compound it, Ntaganda has been reward with a cushy job in the DRC army. During yesterdays elections, he was reportedly among those intimidating the population to vote for Kabila.

Clearly there is no reason for Kabila to stay in power. Other than building a cult of personality, he represents a dark hole in the history of Africa. The future can do without him. He will not be missed.

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