The arrest of Tanzania's Freeman Mbowe - who heads the largest opposition party Chadema - on terrorism charges is one that has no basis says ... Anna Henga, the director general of the Legal and Human Rights centre (LHRC). Speaking to The Africa Report, she explains a string of worrisome incidents that have occurred since Samia Suluhu Hassan took over as president.
In the end, there was no final twist.
On Wednesday evening, the Constitutional Court took the final act in a political-judicial saga that began in mid-May with the launch of a petition calling for the disqualification of Jean-Marc Kabund-a-Kabund.
In its ruling, the Court ruled that Kabund’s case, which presented his ouster as unconstitutional, was admissible, but “unfounded”.
The impeachment vote of 25 May, which had seen, at the end of a very turbulent session in which Members of Parliament had come to blows, was therefore confirmed by the judges.
The interim president of the Union for Democracy and Social Progress (UDPS, the party of Félix Tshisekedi) now has no further recourse.
A scrum of MPs
The first act of his disqualification came on 13 May, when opposition MP Jean-Jacques Mamba of Jean-Pierre Bemba’s Movement for the Liberation of Congo (MLC), deposited on the desk of the presidency of the Assembly a petition bearing the signatures of 62 MPs demanding Kabund’s departure.
The deputies criticised the First Vice-President in particular for not having been able to justify himself on his allegations concerning the necessary funds – $7m – needed to convene a Congress of nationally elected representatives, which the presidents of the two chambers of Parliament were calling for in order to “validate and regularise the state of emergency” that Felix Tshisekedi had just decreed.
The vote on this motion was set for May 25, but the original petitioner was not present: Jean-Jacques Mamba, MP, was arrested two days earlier and tried under emergency procedure for “forgery and forgery”.
Three MPs, including Simon Mpiana, a member of the Union for the Congolese Nation (UNC, from Vital Kamerhe), had assured that they had never signed the petition.
Mamba’s interpellation provoked an outcry in the Assembly, helping to radicalise the positions of the Members who, at the end of a session marked by threats, insults and a fight, voted overwhelmingly in favour of removal (289 voted in favour, 17 against and 9 abstained, out of the 315 who took part in the vote).
Kabund tenacious, but rejected
A vote that Kabund did not accept and took the case to court. At the same time, on 8 June, Félix Tshisekedi personally appointed MP Patricia Nseya to replace Kabund. But on the 12th, the day scheduled for the election, the Attorney General at the Council of State sent the police to the Assembly to prevent the vote. The day before, the Council of State had in fact decided to suspend the procedure while Kabund’s request was being examined by the Constitutional Court.
With this forced departure now confirmed, Felix Tshisekedi loses a strategic asset in Parliament.
For Jean-Marc Kabund, who also sits on the monitoring committee of the agreement between the Front commun pour le Congo (FCC, from Kabila) and the Cap pour le changement, (Cach, from Tshisekedi), this is another setback.
Already weakened within the UDPS, where some executives challenge his management, the acting president of the party is now in a particularly uncomfortable situation.
Before the Constitutional Court’s decision fell, a new petition had in fact been launched in the Assembly to counter a possible rehabilitation of Kabund, this time initiated by MP Didier Manara of the People’s Party for Reconstruction and Democracy (PPRD, member of the FCC).
A few days before the Constitutional Court’s decision, relatives of Felix Tshisekedi had another scenario in mind: in the event of rehabilitation, Kabund would then have to announce his resignation.
“What Kabund was looking for was to be rehabilitated, for his honor. He had asked President Félix Tshisekedi who, in view of the facts, responded favourably,” said a source close to the Head of State.
A scenario that the judges of the Constitutional Council did not respect.
Understand Africa's tomorrow... today
We believe that Africa is poorly represented, and badly under-estimated. Beyond the vast opportunity manifest in African markets, we highlight people who make a difference; leaders turning the tide, youth driving change, and an indefatigable business community. That is what we believe will change the continent, and that is what we report on. With hard-hitting investigations, innovative analysis and deep dives into countries and sectors, The Africa Report delivers the insight you need.View subscription options