DR Congo opposition leader Katumbi: Victim of Political Repression or Enemy of the State?

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Recently, the opposition presidential leader in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Moise Katumbi, has been going through increasingly unbearable political turbulence following his recent decision to challenge the incumbent president Joseph Kabila in the upcoming elections.

A day after authorities in Kinshasa issued an arrest warrant for Mr Katumbi, his lawyers said he flew to South Africa for medical treatment, following the tear gas the police allegedly fired at him during a protest, according to the lawyers. Contradictorily, the state accused Moise Katumbi, who was governor of the rich south-eastern Katanga province for nearly 10 years of treason. He was accused of a plot against the state as well as “hiring foreign mercenaries“ to achieve the alleged criminal plans. However, Mr Katumbi, who was once a President Kabila`s ally vehemently, denied the accusations.

President Kabila`s conflict with Mr Katumbi started after the President, who has been in power since 2001, started showing increasingly a little sign of stepping down in line with the constitution, which stipulates a two term limit for the president. Constitutionally, President Joseph Kabila has to step down in December; but only few individuals believe he would honour the constitution. Following President Kabila`s moves and seemingly attempts to prolong his term, Moise Katumbi openly distanced himself from the President as well as declared his intention to contest against him. Little strange, therefore, that Katumbi, has dismissed the government accusations against him as a plot to frustrate his presidential campaign to replace President Joseph Kabila in November polls.

Although the prosecutors allowed Mr Katumbi  to travel abroad for medical treatment on condition that he returned to face the criminal charges against him, there is increasingly fear amongst his supporters that he is a victim of political repression and intolerance. Others accuse President Joseph Kabila of autocratic tendencies. Yet some group believes that the President wants to cause chaos and create political instability in the country, and provide excuses to prolong his stay in power following the expiration of his term limit in November. However, supporters of President Kabila see Moise Katumba as a power monger who wants to steal power through criminal means. As a very wealthy businessman and former governor of the mineral -rich south-eastern Katanga province, Mr Katumba has a lot of support in this province. Having in mind that African dirty politics is synonymous with wealth and influence rather than the quality of the aspirants, President Kabila`s supporters see in Moise Katumba a potential political nemesis of the President.

Regardless whose position one takes, one thing is clear: the messy tempestuous political water of the Democratic Republic of Congo, is far from being tamed. For the average Congolese struggling to make ends meet in the highly blessed country, filled with incredibly rich mineral resources, the irony can only be heart breaking; it shows how the interests of a few individuals have come far before the lives of the majority. The result is a rich country struggling to wake up from colonial, ethnic, corruption, nepotism slumber, caused by the insatiable greed of a few leaders, leaving the masses perpetually poorer than ever before.

Until the whole Congolese come together and take back the power and the direction of their country from these few egoistic individuals and foreign imperialists, the future of the rich Democratic Republic of Congo is dangerously dicey. This is a choice all patriotic and peace ““ loving Congolese must make ““ and very quickly for that matter, before it is uncontrollably too late.