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DRC: How Felix Tshisekedi is handling the Kamerhe trial

By Jeune Afrique
Posted on Tuesday, 9 June 2020 09:43

President Félix Tshisekedi with Vital Kamerhe on 23 November 2018. Ben Curtis/AP/SIPA

Without intervening directly, the Congolese President, who has constantly asked his chief of staff for his version of the facts in the case of alleged misappropriation of public funds, has kept himself informed on a daily basis of the proceedings initiated against the latter. Here is how.

According to our information, Félix Tshisekedi and Vital Kamerhe (and even their respective wives, Denise Nyakeru Tshisekedi and Hamida Shatur) have been exchanging information directly – or through intermediaries – since the latter was imprisoned in Makala prison.

In fact, the president has begun questioning his chief of staff about his involvement in the alleged embezzlement of public funds linked to the 100 Days Out Programme of the Council of Ministers on 7 February, two months before his arrest.

READ MORE Vital Kamerhe says “I was not the only supervisor” at trial

Questioning of Kabila’s role

On that day, members of the Government were informed by Prime Minister Sylvestre Ilunga Ilukamba of a disbursement of $77 million for the work provided for in the said programme, whereas the needs had initially been estimated at $7 million.

As early as 10 February, Justice Minister Celestin Tunda Ya Kasende referred the matter to the Attorneys-General at the Kinshasa-Gombe and Kinshasa-Matete courts of appeal, asking them to open investigations.

READ MORE Vital Kamerhe mounts his defence

“Several projects have not yet started and those that have are struggling to be completed, even though the Treasury and the Foner [National Road Maintenance Fund] have already disbursed large sums of money to finance them,” he wrote to them in a letter that we were able to consult. I consider these facts to be extremely serious and I urge you to open a judicial investigation, to arrest anyone involved in this case, to investigate, to take any other action useful in establishing the truth and to report to me.”

The presidential entourage wonders about the role Joseph Kabila could have played in this case, arguing that Tunda Ya Kasende, from the Common Front for Congo (FCC), ordered the opening of investigations very quickly.

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Some believe the former president and his clan are settling scores with Vital Kamerhe.

“Politically, his fall benefits Kabila and Tshisekedi,” said a source close to the case who insists that the former cabinet director remains their “common enemy. The Head of State has, moreover, spoken with his predecessor about this case.

Kamerhe’s version of events

Also according to our information, Felix Tshisekedi repeatedly asked Kamerhe to give his version of the facts as suspicions grew. However, the latter never stopped claiming his innocence. “This is what prompted the president to encourage him to respond to the invitation of the prosecutor’s office,” it was explained in the first presidential circle.

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Before the trial began, Tshisekedi first invited Kamerhe’s lawyers. He then invited prosecutors Kisula Betika Yeye Adler and Victor Mumba to tell him what evidence they had against his chief of staff.

“It was at the end of this meeting that Tshisekedi admitted that he had been misled by Kamerhe, who has always dismissed accusations against him very lightly,” said one of the president’s close associates.

Pacifique Kahasha, a chargé de mission of the head of state close to Kamerhe, who is the link between the two men, attended this last hearing.