By Jove! There they go again. In a continent where the mentality expressed in the slogans “I want it all and I want it now” and “Too much is never enough” are the modus operandi, DR Congo’s President Felix Tshisekedi and ex-president Joseph Kabila agreed to form a coalition government.
In a country which has experienced unending politically-motivated conflict and seen so much violence since independence in 1961, the historic peaceful transfer of power still gives optimism that a very long nightmare could be coming to an end.
In a situation where, by his own admission, the president ‘reigns but does not govern’ and the official presidential runner-up insists he won, a coalition government could be the remaining logical thing worth trying out.
The DR Congo has for decades been hooked to the consequences of neo-colonialism because of the agreements of others and not the Congolese themselves. My late friends Edward Kapiriisa-Kamurasi and David Baguma used to jokingly talk of ekitego (the trap).
For the Congolese though, it is not a joke. The consequences of the ‘imperialist trap’ seems to be unescapable! The colonial consequences of greed are seemingly irreversible because among the most ardent converts to European fictitious border creations, according to Ali Mazrui (1963) in Edmund Burke and Reflections on the Revolution in the Congo, were African nationalists themselves.
Tension, not weakness between monarchists, communists, socialists, democrats and uncommitted ethnic groupings made colonial subjugation easier. Ironically, suspected communist Patrice Lumumba, a devout convert to the imperialist-capitalist fiction of ‘One Congo’, was murdered because of his ideological disagreement with the imperialist-capitalist plans for perpetuating exploitation of Congo’s natural resources.
When a ‘common agreement’ by the Congolese ‘themselves’ was not voluntarily forthcoming, it was reportedly often forcibly exacted. Moise Tshombe, who disagreed was coerced into cooperating.
In Ghana, Kwameh Nkrumah did to the Ashanti what the British and their erstwhile blue-eyed cadre Milton Obote did to Buganda. It isn’t by coincidence that Obote admired Nkrumah, who Mazrui succinctly described as a Leninist-Czar.
For the DR Congo problems started when a collection of large ethnic groups, each of them nations, were transformed into a country by ‘common agreement’ between the imperialists; not the indigenous groups.
If agreement had been reached between authentic Congolese groups, the Katangese would have probably chosen to become Rhodesians and later become Zimbabweans and Zambians. If, however, the Portuguese had clinched the deal, the Katangese would have been Angolans. Is a Brazzavillean a foreigner in Kinshasa?
When people aspire for what is not good for them, peremptory leaders are tempted to remove their liberties because they assume they have superior knowledge and by doing so, will benefit the people in the long-run.
Apart from the elite, who will not vote for those who are cleverer than them the wretched of the Earth do. Much as the argument of democratic centralism sounds logical when countries are at the early stages of development, inability or unwillingness to let the people themselves decide or articulate their governance preferences contradicts current global norms and democratic practices.
Renowned Jurist, Sir Carleton Allen, warned in his book, Laws and Orders that, “Throughout history, the most terrible form of tyranny has been forcing on one’s fellow-creatures what one believes to be good for them”.
Political parties give consistency to government, provide the most effective means of changing it, promote political stability and provide a permanent political connection between Parliament and the electorate, but unprincipled gravitation towards self-righteousness can result into detachment from good ideals.
But, I am at no loss to conclude the Burkean style: “If any man asks me what kind of government the people (Congolese) deserve, the answer would be, for any political purpose, it is what they think so and that they, and not I, are the natural, lawful and competent judges of the matter”.
Mr Baligidde teaches at Uganda