Uprising in North Africa: what does the south think?


    There is an animated debate in the office. "Can this happen in the DR Congo?" manager Richard asks loudly, his eyes glued to the television screen. "I’m not sure," responds his accountant. He thinks it is a different context. "Here we had democratic elections, while the Arabs have lived a dictatorship that has lasted too long. They need a change."

    Muji, a visitor, has another opinion."In the DRC, we encounter the same problems – high cost of living, no jobs etc. Let’s face it, we are afraid to take the same risk. We admire the courage of the demonstrators, but I dont see the Congolese having the same determination."


    In the newspapers, they sometimes try to draw parallels. "Africa on the move, the Kabila regime questioned," is the headline of ‘La Tempête des Tropiques’ on Monday. For the daily close to the opposition, similar signs can be seen in the DRC. "

    At the beginning of this election year, with some policy initiatives arbitrary and daring of the ruling majority in the DRC, some fear the worst, given the magnitude of negative feedback and indignation aroused in the ranks of the opposition and civil society. These include the revision of certain constitutional and electoral law," the paper reads.

    Jean-Pierre Mupapa, a prominent figure of the ruling party, said on a private television channel, that the DRC is not in the same situation.

    "Tunisia has experienced some problems we’ve already solved because we have a political system that allows the opposition to mobilise and take power by legal means. Freedom of expression is seen in the media. All topics are addressed in public without taboos. "

    Scared Zimbabweans

    "I will not risk getting shot at. I have a family to fend for. Zimbabweans have a tendency of seeing others die while they watch," says Muronda, a newspaper vendor in central Harare.

    Muronda has little knowledge about mass uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt. "I don’t have satellite television to follow what is happening outside," he says.

    Muronda’s apparent indifference on watershed events in the Arab countries is also detected among fellow Zimbabweans. However, they do not disguise their anger towards President Robert Mugabe’s regime.

    The country’s sole ruler for the past 30 years, Mugabe has maintained a system of terror among his people. His government is accused of failed economic policies, corruption, electoral theft and brutality.

    Mugabe’s party, ZANU-PF, has not made any comments on the Arab uprisings. State television, still under Mugabe’s firm control, has occasionally reported on the unrests but has avoided showing any footage. A government weekly said the protests up north are a result of American interference into the Arabic affairs.

    Tsvangirai believes

    Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, now in a transitional government with Mugabe, believes events in the north can also engulf Zimbabwe. "To me when people take their rights and start demanding for more rights, there is nothing wrong with that including in Zimbabwe. That is the whole purpose of our (own party) struggle the past 10 years," he told FoxNews in an interview in Davos last week.

    Political commentator Takura Zhangazha says Zimbabwe’s current situation cannot torch any mass protests.

    "The protests in both countries were torched by high levels of unemployment, radical food price increases and supported by a good media infrastructure. Things are different here. There is nothing that can provide the spark for a protest," says Zhangazha.