On the promise and perils of the proliferation of provinces in the DRC

The DRC is huge. And so in 2015 the country saw an increase the number of provinces from 11 to 26. The provinces have elected assemblies (5 year terms) and governors & deputy governors (elected by provincial assemblies). However, while reasonable people would agree on the need for this increase in the intensity of government in the DRC, it has also not been lost on observers that considerations over political geography informed the decision on how the old provinces were split.

This is from Pierre Englebert:

One of the reasons for the increase from eleven to twenty-six provinces was to break up Katanga and deprive its governor, key Kabila opponent Moïse Katumbi, of his provincial base. Beyond such political expediency, however, this policy’s main effect has been to create ethnically homogeneous provinces. As Alma Bezares Calderon, Lisa Jené, and I write in a recent report for the Secure Livelihoods Research Consortium, up to eleven of Congo’s provinces are made up primarily of a single ethnic group. This is an increase from three provinces with a single ethnic group prior to this policy.

For Congo as whole, the largest provincial groups now average 46 percent of their province’s population. This evolution has turned politics on its head. At the national level, heterogeneity dominates and no single group reaches 8 percent of the population.Screen Shot 2018-10-29 at 7.39.44 PM.pngWhy the Congolese have reproduced the colonial practice of associating individuals with their territory of origin is somewhat unclear. From the perspective of the Congolese government, people might remain a threat, as they were for the colonial authorities, and thus must be disempowered when not in their customary sphere, so as to de ate their citizenship. Attaching people to geographic areas might also foster local divisions, thereby empowering authorities in Kinshasa…

H/T Lahra Smith.

No ICC hearings in Kenya

The ICC Pre-Trial Chamber Judge Ekaterina Trendafilova on Wednesday decided that the trial of suspects of the 2007-08 election violence in Kenya will not be held in the country.

Great move.

I am of the view that holding the hearings in Kenya would have created an unnecessary distraction from the important task of implementing Kenya’s new constitution. Already, the bigwigs accused of masterminding the violence that killed 1300 and displaced over 300,000 Kenyans have ethnicized their predicament. Holding the hearings in Kenya would have handed them an opportunity for a circus of ethnicity-charged rallies and demonstrations in Nairobi.

The ICC continues to be a source of debate in Kenya and across Africa. Many have faulted the court’s apparent bias against African leaders. Some have even called it a form of neocolonialism. While admitting that the court could use a little bit more tact [principally by acknowledging that it cannot be apolitical BECAUSE it is an international court SANS a world government] I still think that it is the best hope of ending impunity on the African continent – at least until African leaders internalize the fact that it is not cool to kill your own people.

Among the cases that should have been handled with a sensitivity to political realities include Sudan and Libya [and may be the LRA in Uganda]. Kenya’s Ocampo Six, the DRC’s Jean-Pierre Bemba and Cote d’Ivoire’s Laurent Gbagbo, on the other hand, should not raise questions of national sovereignty. Murderous dictators and their henchmen do not have internal affairs. In any case sovereignty for many an African country means nothing more than sovereignty for the president and his cronies.

Related posts here and here.

museveni wins another term, Gaddafi using African mercenaries

Long-term Ugandan President, Yoweri Museveni, in on course to a comfortable win in the country’s general election. With over 70% of the votes counted Mr. Museveni leads his closest rival, Besigye, with over 40%. President Museveni, ruler of Uganda since 1986, started off as a different kind of African president, presiding over a decade of sustained growth, drastic reduction in HIV infection rates and general peace and stability. But he stayed for too long. Beginning in the mid-1990s Uganda transitioned – under intense domestic and international pressure – from a “no-party democracy” [whatever that means] to a multiparty electoral system in which Museveni allowed for opposition at the margins.

The new dispensation created pressures for greater levels of patronage in order for Museveni to stay in power. He scrapped constitutionally mandated term limits, created a cabinet of over 70 ministers and went crazy with what Ugandans call “districtization” – the act of creating new local government jurisdictions purely for patronage purposes. Uganda’s new found oil reserves will certainly continue to fund the long-term autocrat’s stranglehold on Ugandan politics. Rumors abound that he intends to install his son and head of the presidential guard as his successor.

In other news, Col. Gaddafi is reported to be using African mercenaries to quell rebellion in the east of Libya. For decades Gaddafi has been a Guevara wanna-be, funding armed rebellions all over the Continent (Including the infamous Charles Taylor of Liberia). He seems to have done all that in the hope that the rebels he funded would come to his aid, like is happening now. But the presidents/rebel leaders who have sent soldiers to kill Libyans demanding for their natural rights should be aware that it is precisely such acts that have landed Jean-Pierre Bemba at the Hague.

more on cannibalism, this time from the Congo

If you thought that the Economist’s mention of cannibalism in Africa was a rare exception, think again. The Independent, an Irish paper, just ran a story with the headline “We can’t abandon Africa to cannibalism and genocide.” This is in reaction to details out of the trial of Jean-Pierre Bemba, the Congolese warlord, at the ICC. The reporter quotes a “highly regarded” Associated Press reporter who wrote that pygmies (is this PC anymore??) in the Congo told UN investigators that Bemba’s men, lacking food supplies, ate children. The same reporter quotes a French doctor working with Medicins Sans Frontiers who said that Bemba’s men in the northwest of the Congo “were routinely eating members of the pygmy tribes in the region.”

The report also has this disturbing error with regard to African geography:

It would seem that few in the West actually care. The biggest “atrocity” story about the rebels in the Western media was when park rangers across the border in Senegal said that rebels had killed and eaten two mountain gorillas in January 2007. (Apparently being a pygmy puts one lower than these primates. But then again I see cat-stuck-in-a-tree headliners – while people are dying elsewhere – all the time).

Senegal does not border the Congo. Infact it is several countries to the West of the continent of Africa. But let’s not let this error distract us from the real story…

The Independent piece (which attempts to advocate for a more interventionist EU policy in Africa) concludes by saying: The only “militarisation” being put forward is the type that would end the eating of children and the other horrific acts of genocides.

I think it is time we had KTN’s Jicho Pevu (Mohammed Ali) or Anderson Cooper or the BBC  guys out into the Congolese forest to show the world that Congolese soldiers are into eating pygmy children. I will believe that cannibalism (outside of ritual – like in Papua New Guinea and other places) exists only when I see it on video or hear it from first hand witnesses.

And to the Independent, you are not helping the Congolese by portraying them as child-eaters. Thanks to you now a bunch of Irish people think that in addition to being infested with AIDS, malaria, civil war and all that stuff, the Continent has marauding bands of pygmy child-eaters. Nice.