By Paul Collins
As the world watches via social media, the Congolese people are rejecting the efforts of Moise Katumbi and his corrupt co-conspirators to undermine the coming national elections, scheduled by the CENI independent election body for this coming December 23rd. While Katumbi's calls for a coup are nothing new, an unfortunate wrinkle is the way Katumbi and his minions have caused DRC's Catholic Church to unwittingly mix religion and politics. This is an unholy combination, and perhaps the Church would be better served using its authority and publicity ministering to the population.
But first, a brief recap. The Democratic Republic of the Congo has overcome huge logistical and financial challenges to set a new national election at the end of the year. These difficulties are hard for the western world to understand; the country is made up of some 82 million people speaking dozens of languages, with limited literacy. This election must encompass so many candidates that the total is estimated to reach the tens of thousands in national, provincial, and local races, which is why the country has invested hundreds of millions of dollars in new voting technology… to avoid a ballot the size of a small novel in multiple languages. The election date itself was selected by an independent voting authority, CENI, based on these issues as well as dozens of others, including the challenges of registering some 45 million voters in the second largest country in Africa. Happily, according to recent reports, these efforts are well underway. Registration is nearly complete, and the country has begun to invest the needed funds in the technology needed to accomplish a daunting task. CENI has a plan, and anyone can read it here (French). (http://www.cenirdc.org)
But a darker effort to subvert this process underlies the good news about these coming elections. For years, a small cabal of insiders led by Moise Katumbi have attempted to undermine the election process through violence and calls for a coup. Katumbi is a fugitive from justice who fled the DRC after his conviction for a number of crimes, and calls for violence while he remains safe at a base in Europe. Katumbi is wildly wealthy despite a career in public service, with vast income that no one has fully explained. He uses this income, according to reports, to buy influence, either directly or in any number of subtle ways.
According to controversial journalist Fiston Komanda (Directeur des Informations” at “RTVS1” , private channel in Kinshasa), it is an “open secret” that Moise Katumbi is providing much needed money to the Catholic Church in the DRC, with an implicit understanding that the Church will support his calls for a coup. Photos show Katumbi meeting the leader of the Catholic Church in the Congo, Laurent Monsengwo, far away from prying eyes in Belgium. Komanda claims via his twitter account (as Kamanda Kela, his online identity), that Moise Katumbi gave “a sum of money” to the Church. In the following weeks the Church has begun to echo Moise Katumbi’s demands that the country be thrown back into chaos by abdicating the will of the people. It is inadvertent that the Church’s echoes of Katumbi have instigated violence and bloodshed across the country.
These church communications have not been well received by the Congolese people, who are anticipating making their own selection of the next President of the Democratic Republic of the Congo this December. Many have taken to social media to request that the Catholic Church stop inserting itself into Congo politics, and return to its noble and valuable role serving the religious and social needs of the people, which are profound.
Some of their public statements include:
“The Catholic church became the Church only of the leaders of opposition in need of positioning.”
“I am a Catholic, and dispute the way our shepherds respond.”
@moise_katumbi Thanks for purchasing the Catholic Church for your cause, (to) facilitate your return to Congo. Congratulations.
Everywhere Moise Katumbi goes, corruption follows. He refuses to explain the source of his great wealth, which many attribute to his years as Governor of Katanga province in the DRC. When he was charged with fraud and other crimes, he fled to Europe rather than face justice at home, yet he calls himself a patriot… from thousands of miles ways. He uses his wealth and power to call for violence and a coup, subverting the will of the people, and many believe he spreads that money around to third parties to buy their loyalty, whether they realize it or not. Most people simply will not bite the hand that feeds them. Today, we see the Catholic Church far from its primary mission of service. The Congolese people object, and ask that they pick the next President themselves.