POLITICAL power contestations in Africa have given mixed indicators that the gains following the attainment of independence from colonial powers more than five decades ago are being eroded by governance issues. Thus a lot of research is carried on Africa’s post-colonial state.
The trend of amending constitutions to ensure that incumbent heads of state and government continue ruling ad infinitum has been a cause for concern.
When multi-party democracy was introduced, it spread like wildfire, but some leaders who were in the forefront of inclusivity, were seen holding on to power, against the provisions of the standard two-year term limits.
This put a dent on a continent whose potential is not debatable.
It is in this spirit that we commend President Joseph Kabila of the Democratic Republic of Congo for announcing this week that he would not seek re-election in the December 23 poll.
President Kabila has been at helm of the mineral rich nation of 79 million people since 2001, following his father’s assassination.
People in the DRC, sadc and the African Union in general are relieved that contestants successfully filed their nomination papers on Tuesday and Wednesday this week, minus President Kabila who had a replacement.
Thus he adhered to the two-term limit, an act commended by Senator Jacques Ndjoli of the opposition MLC party: “What matters for the moment is that the constitution, whether willingly or not, has been respected,”
Following months of uncertainty and tensions, we hope that the latest development will usher in a period of stability that will see the DRC giving its citizens a free, fair, credible and peaceful election as enshrined in the revised sadc Principles and Guidelines Governing Democratic Elections of 2015.
A continued stay by President Kabila would have worsened the volatility in a country already fighting the deadly Ebola virus.
Among those who successfully filed their nomination papers was former Interior Minister Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary of the coalition People’s Party for Reconstruction and Democracy — President Kabila’s party.
“(Kabila) said there would be no problem. He said there would be no third term. Today, he has kept his promise,” Ramazani reportedly said.
Another PPRD official told Reuters news agency: “Today, Kabila has shown that he is the father of democracy in Congo.”
Chairperson of the AU Moussa Faki Mahamat also acclaimed the move saying, “In doing so, President Kabila has made a gesture of high political value in the best interests of his country.”
Other notable candidates include former Vice President Jean-Pierre Bemba, who was recently released by The Hague-based International Criminal Court and Felix Tshisekedi, son to the late veteran opposition politician Étienne Tshisekedi wa Mulumba.
However, veteran opposition politician and former governor of Katanga Moise Katumbi, who was in exile was not allowed to return to file his nomination papers.
This gives hope of a fresh start in a region facing a myriad of challenges, including civil strife and other humanitarian problems.
Since the major obstacle to progressing to the December poll is no longer there, does it mean that the leadership of the different political parties in the DRC will bury their differences, and move the country forward?
It is common knowledge that opposition parties in most African countries make numerous demands just before the election period, including the levelling of the playing field, which is part of the democratic process.
The sooner the exercise is carried out, the better, because at the end of the day, the world will only legitimise a credible election process.
The leaders should also realise the truism in what famed guitarist Jimi Hendrix once said: “When the power of love overcomes the love of power, the world (DR Congo) will know peace.”