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DRC – Nehemiah Mwilanya Wilondja: “We should be grateful to Joseph Kabila”

By Anna Sylvestre-Treiner, Romain Gras, Stanis Bujakera Tshiamala
Posted on Wednesday, 15 December 2021 12:28

He was one of the key men in former DRC President Joseph Kabila's circle. While Kabila's Common Front for the Congo (FCC) is trying to recover, its former coordinator defends the alliance with Lamuka and, with two years to go before the presidential election, sows doubts about the intentions of the former president.

After several months during which – relegated to the opposition – it seemed stunned and apathetic, Kabila’s camp is now trying to organise a fightback. On the ground, to contest the electoral process, it has allied itself with Lamuka, the coalition led by Martin Fayulu and Adolphe Muzito, which has fought against it.

Still, internally, the reorganisation of the structures, the possible nomination of new leaders and the clarification of Kabila’s future role are still pending.

Nehemiah Mwilanya Wilondja, former coordinator of a Common Front for Congo (FCC) in search of revival, speaks to us about this, and other issues, from his office in Kinshasa.

Question: Why did the FCC choose to join the ‘patriotic bloc’ with Lamuka?

Nehemiah Mwilanya: The country is doing badly, it is obvious. If we take the situation that Joseph Kabila left on 24 January 2019, on all levels, whether political, economic or social, we see that there is a real fracture. Today you have the ones with power on one side and the people on the other side.

What do you criticise in concrete terms about the current electoral process?

When teams take part in a competition, the rules of the game must be known in advance and accepted by all. The appointment of the referee must also be agreed upon. Here we have a situation where one of the competitors is choosing the stadium and its opponents using the law. In the end, this results in a truncated process.

Isn’t this alliance ‘unnatural’, given the relations between the FCC and Lamuka?

It is a rallying to a common agenda. When President Tshisekedi invested in Denis Kadima as head of the Ceni [Independent National Electoral Commission], I said that the challenge had been launched. We must try to make the government listen to reason. Even the regulatory body, the Constitutional Court, is a problem. How can we convince the international community that this is a credible process?

Will this agreement last until the 2023 elections?

For the moment, we share the same objectives. As the situation evolves, the same actors will freely decide whether to continue this agreement or return to their individual struggles. In the meantime, it is a bloc that remains open to all those who want to join it.

The absence of Martin Fayulu from the march on 13 November gave the impression that the bloc was divided…

Each force has its own internal organisation. Martin Fayulu was not there, but other members of his party were there to represent him. We don’t respond to impressions. Were we not side by side, political forces and social forces with the secular movements? Talking about personalities is too reductive. What is important is this photograph.

What is the status of the restructuring of the FCC?

This is a matter of internal organisation. We cannot have an electoral horizon without thinking about a reorganisation of the political family. Committees are working on this right now. You will soon know the future of the FCC and its structures.

Since the loss of its majority, the FCC seems weakened and divided…

I’m a bit confused because people are talking about our supposed weakness and the fact that we are feared at the same time. Can we fear the weak? When we failed in the presidential elections, people first said that Kabila and his people had lost. We ‘entered into a coalition’ with President Tshisekedi and everyone said that, in the end, Kabila was still strong and that his influence had to be reduced. Since then, we have witnessed a quasi institutional coup d’état and President Kabila has been stripped of all his legitimate assets. Despite this, one has the feeling that the same fear persists.

You have been criticised for having blocked the action of the government when you were ‘in coalition’…

Can we still say that this is the case? A year has passed since the ‘coup’ was staged. Is it still Kabila who is blocking power? We are no longer associated in any way with the management of power. Is the country getting better?

There is still the state of siege, a budget of over $10bn, etc., which are concrete measures…

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