When Constantino Chiwenga, Zimbabwe's vice-president and health minister, suspended by-elections in October 2020 citing Statutory Instrument ... (SI) 225A as a means to curb Covid-19, many believed a new date would be set. Instead, the government has remained silent on the matter, with many wondering if this is truly a measure to control the pandemic, or a strategy by the ruling Zanu PF to stop the MDC Alliance from winning back seats it lost after the recall by its breakaway party, the MDC-T.
Muzito, an ally of Fayulu, has held the position of platform coordinator since April 12. It is a position he shares with Moïse Katumbi, the former governor of Katanga. Despite Katumbi rallying for Union Sacrée, the new coalition formed to support President Tshisekedi, he has never officially left the opposition.
In this new configuration of Congolese politics, Muzito is determined to be active on the ground with proposals to reform the Commission Electorale Nationale Indépendante and demonstrate against violence meted out to civilians in the east. He is launching multiple initiatives alongside Fayulu, a former 2018 presidential candidate.
Muzito talks to us about power struggles within Lamuka, formation of Tshisekedi’s new government and preparation for the 2023 elections.
Since April 12, Lamuka has had two coordinators: Katumbi and yourself. How do you get out of this imbroglio?
Muzito: We do not have to look for a solution to a problem that does not exist. Moïse Katumbi and Jean-Pierre Bemba have abandoned our objectives to support a regime that has confiscated democracy. They cannot be in power with their party and in the resistance with us. They have to make a choice.
According to Lamuka’s statutes, leaving the coalition can only be done by voluntary renunciation…
Attitudes sometimes speak louder than a simple declaration. They went to the Sacred Union on their own, but they do not want to assume the future balance sheet of the government and it suits them to keep a foot in the opposition. It is disrespectful to our people to think that they can play both sides.
Why did you refuse to participate in the consultations when you were invited?
The exchange should have taken place under the mediation of a neutral personality. We have always asked for a dialogue, so that what happened in 2018 does not happen to us again. But Felix Tshisekedi is part of the problem, he cannot be part of the solution.
He has nevertheless succeeded in isolating Joseph Kabila, which is what he also wanted…
From the point of view of his power perhaps, but that does not take away his lack of legitimacy. Tshisekedi owes his current position to the fraud orchestrated by Joseph Kabila. They are pursuing the same anti-democratic cause.
Does it bother you to share the label of opposition with Joseph Kabila?
To recognise us as being in the opposition would be to register us in the republican minority. We are challenging the system, while Kabila serves it.
With 80% of new faces in Sama Lukonde Kyenge’s government, is there no renewal?
From which project, from which political family, do the members of this government emanate? They are continuing what was done before.
The budget presented by the government foresees $36bn over three years. Do you think it is achievable?
When I left the government in 2012, realisation of the budget using own resources was $3.5bn; 10 years later, it hasn’t changed. Today, ambitious figures are promised, but they don’t say what the share in external resources will be to reach this goal. A coherent majority must have a quantified program. We have just completed one third of the year with a budget of $7bn. No one is explaining with which reforms the collective budget will allow for readjustment of the budget.
Félix Tshisekedi has just declared a state of siege in North Kivu and Ituri. Is this a step in the right direction?
It could be useful if there were consequences for other political choices. There are several problems with the army today. One is the inability of the authorities to fund it properly. The other is having generals who are the target of suspicion by NGOs and the international community, and who will replace an already fragile administration.
With Martin Fayulu, you have proposed a reform of the Independent National Electoral Commission (Ceni). How does it differ from the one tabled by Christophe Lutundula, currently before Parliament?
We want to depoliticise the Ceni by putting representatives of the religious confessions at the top. Thus, the latter would no longer be limited to the appointment of actors who supposedly come from civil society, when in fact they have political intentions. They would assume organisation of the elections. There is always the possibility of finding common ground with the majority, provided that there is a framework for equal discussion. We don’t pretend to say that our ideas are the best.
Since the majority of the Union Sacrée is officially 391 members, isn’t it naive to think that they will dialogue with you?
All laws are made in the city first… Tshisekedi’s majority does not reflect the true popular majority. We propose to find a real consensus, together, so that the next elections are no longer contested.
We are in an alliance and will choose our candidate when the time comes. We are convinced that the Lamuka candidate will win. But it is not just about winning the presidency; it is also about winning the parliamentary majority and therefore building alliances. We are working on these two aspects at the same time.
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