DRC elections African politics 2019
Felix Tshisekedi, who won the presidential election in the Democratic Republic of Congo

By Munashe Gutu

The run up to the 2018 D.R.C elections saw most African enthusiasts yearning for a new change in the oil rich but ‘poor’ country. It is true the D.R.C is very vital when it comes to shaping the African politics to a certain extent .

Pan-Africanist philosopher Frantz Fanon once opined that “If Africa is shaped like a gun, Congo is the trigger”. This statement carries with it volumes of weight on the fact that, when analyzing African politics and governments, D.R.C should not be overlooked. Its significance is overwhelming. Events in the D.R.C determine most changes that are experienced in the continent, be it political, economic and social aspects.

It is in light of this that one would want to rewind back to the 1990’s in which Mr. Robert Mugabe, then was the president of Zimbabwe and S.A.D.C defence chair sacrificed a considerable number of armed forces to partake in the country’s Second Congo war of 1998. Angolan and Namibian troops also added weight. In order to cement the long-standing relationship between the two politically contentious countries, the current president of Zimbabwe, E.D Mnangagwa’s inauguration was attended by Mr. Kabila himself, then president of the D.R.C, signifying some sense of fraternity in terms of handling national politics.

The latter endorsed the election results and upheld the way Z.E.C executed their task. True to the notion that birds of the same feathers flock together. What comes to the mind is the 30 July election in Zimbabwe which was marred with electoral fraud allegations and a myriad of vote buying sprees that up to today, there is no consensus as to who really won those elections.

A defeated election petition by the opposition in the Constitutional court has seen a number of African nationalities believing that the dawn of a new era in Africa is nothing, but an elusive dream. However, with the twist of events in the D.R.C, a very powerful African state, one’s optimism would be revived as it signals a shift from autocracy to democracy.

It outrightly defies Mugabe’s 2008 idea that democracies in Africa are an impossible proposition. According to him, this was because the opposition wanted more than what it deserves. Just a few days ago ,the commission announced in the odd hours, as the African norm, that, Mr. Kabila’s preferred and imposed candidate Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary lost it out to opposition leader Felix Tshisekedi. The incumbent’s preferred successor even went on to come third after businessman Martin Fayulu, thanks to the determined electorate in the Central African country.

Mr. Tshisekedi becomes the first opposition challenger to claim victory since the country garnered independence from Belgium in 1960. This gesture solidifies that change is feasible in Africa. If it is true to Fanon that Congo is the trigger in the African politics and, if the trigger is not pulled, then brighter days are ahead.

As we wait for the losing candidates to contest the election results in the next 10 days, to which we believe the courts will impartially exercise their constitutional mandate, we can safely believe change is a possibility.

If the Nigerian elections are run with such diligence and average transparency without shifting goal posts, limited delays and a relatively calm atmosphere, it is yet to be confirmed if the dawn of a new era in Africa is really here.

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