Zimbabwe: President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s Challenge

Zimbabwe: President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s Challenge

What we have just witnessed in Zimbabwe was not a revolution to overthrow a corrupt system. It was a power struggle within that corrupt system. Former President Mugabe wanted to install his much younger wife as his successor. The old guard, who understandably felt threatened, moved to stop him. The correct question from this point has become, “what happens next?”

The new President has heard the ordinary people of Zimbabwe cheering in the streets at the news of Mugabe’s resignation. Consequently, Mnangagwa is telling them what they want to hear.

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Zimbabwe Was a Victim of Mugabe’s Marxist Ideology

Zimbabwe Was a Victim of Mugabe’s Marxist Ideology

Robert Mugabe began his tenure as a reasonable head of state after leading Zimbabwe to majority rule in 1980. He understood that Zimbabwe’s relative prosperity, and good economic outlook, were highly dependent on the continued cooperation of white commercial farmers. He did everything possible to reassure farmers who wanted to remain on their farms.

Mugabe accepted a constitution guaranteeing seven white members of parliament. He also named a white farmer’s union head to his Cabinet as Minister of Agriculture. His attitude toward the white commercial farmer was so positive that new white farmers came to Zimbabwe to buy land.

Mugabe was also very strong on education. The number of Africans graduating from high school and university rose significantly during the first fifteen years of his administration.

But underlying Mugabe’s constructive view of power was a deep-seated ideology that would eventually cause him to destroy everything that his administration, and the white Rhodesians before him, had worked so hard to build.

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A Well Thought-Out Analysis From a Reader

Commenter Michael had the following to say about my October 30 blog post on the DRC:

"Greatly disagree with this blog entry from Mr. Cohen. The Congolese have come to understand that the international community (IC) is not on their side. The IC is well aware of the atrocities done in Eastern Congo and backed by both staunch western allies like Rwanda and Uganda and greatly detailed through UN reports. There have not been any sanctions or actions against these states. The IC including the US have been very soft against negative forces affecting the Congolese people.

Even with the sanctions directed toward members of the Kabila's entourage, we see that the Minister of Communications Lambert Mende who s under EU sanctions being granted a visa to visit Belgium for "humanitarian" reasons and yet there are Congolese opposition leaders who are rotting in prison without medical care and yet the IC is willing to give "lee-way" to perpetrators and bad actors in the Congo who are under sanctions.

So with all due respect Mr. Cohen, I think people especially in Congo have a right to be suspicious or at least cynical of the propositions of Ambassador Haley. The opposition in 2016 was under pressure of the IC to cede to a dialogue with Kabila when the population were ready for a revolution. The result is non-respect of the agreement, political prisoners still exile or in prison and non-nomination of a true Prime Minister from the opposition and cabinet positions still under the control of the Presidential Majority.

With all due respect Mr. Cohen, Congolese intellectuals should not relax because that's what they did in 2016 and expecting elections in 2017. Look what it produced."

The Trump Administration’s DRC Policy Is Now Formulated

The formulation of the Trump Administration’s policy toward the DRC is now complete. Although the administration has not yet nominated an Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, the Africa Bureau is currently in the very experienced and capable hands of Ambassador Don Yamamoto, and his Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary, Ambassador Stephanie Sullivan.


From a variety of sources, I have determined that the Trump Administration believes an honorable departure from power on the part of President Joseph Kabila, pursuant to the constitutional limitation of two elected terms, would be in the best interests of the Congolese people, and the Great Lakes sub-region. The Administration, therefore, would like to see the next set of elections held at the earliest possible date.

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Congolese Intellectuals’ Misguided Reaction to Ambassador Haley’s Visit to the DRC

Immediately after US UN Ambassador Nikki Haley’s departure from the DRC, the Congolese and international press were reporting great disappointment among that country’s intellectuals and a number of political personalities. They accused Ambassador Haley of assisting President Kabila’s determination to extend his stay in power, as long as possible, well beyond the expiration of his constitutional mandate on December 31, 2016.

This criticism is utterly misguided, and demonstrates a lack of understanding on the part of Congolese critics as to how American diplomacy and international relations are conducted. 

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Ambassador Nikki Haley’s Visit to Africa

US Permanent Representative to the United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley is currently visiting Africa on behalf of President Donald Trump. During his official luncheon for African heads of State at the United Nations General Assembly in September, the President said he was concerned with two countries in crisis: South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. He asked Ambassador Haley to visit these countries and make recommendations.

What is Ambassador Haley likely to find during her visit, and what is she likely to recommend?

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Trump’s Proposed Budget Reductions Will Hurt the U.S. and Africa

The Trump Administration has made known its initial budget proposals for fiscal year 2018, beginning October 1, 2017. African governments should be interested in these proposals because some important U.S. Government activities on the continent could either be abolished or significantly reduced.

President Trump’s budget request for 2018 proposes significant reductions in two spending categories of interest to Africa...

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Update on the Democratic Republic of the Congo

The political drama that began in the DRC over a year ago over the presidential succession continues to fester, and continues to increase tensions. Six months of negotiations have failed to bring about a solution, but the main opposition political leaders have expressed a willingness to make one last effort at compromise before resorting to outright political warfare. The big question is: Will President Kabila recognize the writing on the wall and agree to leave power peacefully?

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République Démocratique du Congo descend dans un état d'anarchie politique dangereuse. Les Nations Unies doivent agir

En République Démocratique du Congo (RDC), l'administration du président Kabila avait amorce la descente de la nation vers l'anarchie politique en novembre 2016 en refusant délibérément de tenir l'élection présidentielle exigée par la constitution au cours de ce mois. En l'absence d'une élection présidentielle, le président Kabila a perdu sa légitimité en tant que chef de l'État le 20 décembre 2016, date à laquelle son deuxième mandat de cinq ans est arrivé à son terme.

Pour tenter de combler le vide politique, le Président Kabila a demandé à la Conférence des évêques catholiques (CENCO) de faire la médiation entre sa majorité parlementaire et les forces politiques de l'opposition afin de parvenir à un accord sur la façon d’avancer vers les élections et de transférer le Pouvoir à un nouveau président. La médiation de la CENCO a commencé en octobre 2016 et s'est poursuivie jusqu'au 27 mars 2017, date à laquelle elle a pris fin parce que les parties ne parvenaient pas à s'entendre sur la voie à suivre.

L'échec de la médiation CENCO laisse la RDC dans un état d'anarchie politique. Aucune des institutions politiques n'a de légitimité, y compris la Présidence, le Sénat et l'Assemblée nationale. La perspective que le président Kabila reste au pouvoir indéfiniment et illégalement a causé des tensions importantes dans tout le pays. Les manifestations majeures demandées par les leaders de l'opposition pour le 10 avril 2017 pourraient devenir dangereusement violentes dans le modèle d’Ouagadougou en 2014.

Déjà, il y a une instabilité croissante dans différentes régions de ce vaste pays. Une unité militaire dans la région du Kasaï au centre de la RDC a été filmée en train de tuer sans raison des civils non combattants. Dans la même région, les milices ont répliqué et tué une quarantaine de policiers. Dans les régions de l'Extrême-Orient, les deux provinces du Kivu et de l'Ituri, diverses milices errent dans les villages en pillant et en violant, tandis que d'autres se disputent les gisements artisanaux miniers.

Pendant les matchs de football, les jeunes dans les tribunes et pourtour, passent plus de temps à appeler "Kabila à quitter" plutôt que d’appuyer leurs équipes.

Le Conseil de sécurité des Nations unies a adopté plusieurs résolutions sur la RDC depuis le début de la crise politique à la fin de 2016. Maintenant que l'anarchie politique s'est installée, que devrait faire l'ONU? Une force de maintien de la paix de l'ONU, la MONUSCO, opère en RDC depuis 2005, avec le mandat de protéger les civils.

Peut-être est-il maintenant temps pour une réflexion créative sur la RDC par le Conseil de sécurité de l'ONU. La décision de ne prendre aucune mesure à ce stade ne contribuerait qu'à la «légitimation» de l'anarchie et à la rupture potentielle de l'ordre.

Il y a un précédent pour la prise de contrôle temporaire par les Nations Unies de la souveraineté. La Namibie, le Cambodge et le Timor oriental sont des exemples appropriés. A titre de rappel, il y a un précédent historique vers les années 1960s aussitôt l’accession du Congo à l’Independence. Par suite de nombreuses d’anarchie et mouvements de sécession, le Président Eisenhower était confronté au même dilemme : Laisse le Congo sombrer dans le chaos ou intervenir ?

Il n’était pas question d’envoyer les forces de l’OTAN pour ne pas ralentir les mouvements de la décolonisation. C’est ainsi que la décision fut prise de mettre la RD Congo sous tutelle des Nations Unies.

Aux mêmes maux, mêmes remèdes dit-on.  Bien que la situation courante n’est pas similaire à celle des années 1960, Il est maintenant pertinent pour l'ONU d'examiner la RDC dans un contexte similaire.

De ce fait, l’ONU prendrait le control de la RD Congo pendant quelques mois pour départager tous les politiciens, le temps d’organiser les élections et remettre le pouvoir au président élu.

The Democratic Republic of the Congo Has Descended to a State of Dangerous Political Anarchy. The United Nations Needs to Act

In the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), the administration of President Kabila began the nation’s descent toward political anarchy in November 2016 by deliberately refusing to hold the presidential election required by the constitution for that month. In the absence of a presidential election, President Kabila lost his legitimacy as the head of state on December 20, 2016, when his second elected five-year term came to an end.

In an attempt to fill the political vacuum, President Kabila asked the Conference of Catholic Bishops (CENCO) to mediate between his parliamentary majority, and the opposition political forces, in order to reach agreement on how to move forward to an election and a transfer of power to a new president. The CENCO mediation began in October 2016, and continued until March 27, 2017 when it was terminated because the parties could not reach agreement on the way forward.

The failure of the CENCO mediation leaves the DRC in a state of political anarchy. None of the political institutions has legitimacy, including the Presidency, the Senate, and the National Assembly. The prospect of President Kabila remaining in power indefinitely and illegally has caused major tensions throughout the nation. Major demonstrations called for by opposition leaders for the week of April 3, 2017 could become dangerously violent in the model of Ouagadougou in 2014.

Already, there is growing instability in different regions of this vast country. A military unit in the Kasai region in central DRC has been photographed killing non-combatant civilians wantonly. In the same region, militias have retaliated and killed about forty policemen. In the far eastern regions of the two Kivu provinces and Ituri, various militias roam through villages pillaging and raping, while they and others fight over artisanal mineral deposits.

During football matches, the young people in the audience spend more time calling for “Kabila to go” than shouting in support of their teams.

The United Nations Security Council has enacted several resolutions about the DRC since the beginning of the political crisis in late 2016. Now that political anarchy has set in, what should the UN should be doing? A UN peace-keeping force, MONUSCO, has been operating in the DRC since 2005, with a mandate to protect civilians.

Perhaps now is the time for some creative thinking about the DRC by the UN Security Council. A decision to take no action at this point would only be contributing to the “legitimization” of anarchy, and to the potential breakdown of order.

There is precedent for the temporary UN takeover of sovereignty. Namibia, Cambodia and East Timor are suitable examples. It may now be relevant for the UN to look at the DRC in a similar context.

It is important to recall that the DRC had a very successful UN assistance experience from 1960 to 1967.  When the security situation deteriorated immediately after independence, President Eisenhower asked the UN Security Council to start a stabilization program with UN troops and civil servants. (There were no NATO forces allowed.) The UN operation assisted in the training of Congolese military units, helped reorganize administrative departments, and stabilized difficult regions such as Katanga and Kivu.  If this experience could be repeated immediately, then the Congo will be assured of free and fair elections in 2017, and a smooth transfer of power to a new governing team by the end of the year.  

The UN Security Council, and its most powerful member, the United States, need to think seriously about this option.

Reject Trump's Proposed Budget

(from GlobalSecurity.org)

As part of his quest to "put America first," President Trump is requesting a $55 billion increase in the Defense Department budget at the expense of agencies typically characterized as "non-defense": The Department of State and the Agency for International Development (USAID) face reductions of approximately 20 percent.

Trump has a misguided notion of defense. The State Department and USAID are recognized by defense leaders as irreplaceable components of our national security bulwark. Slashing the budgets of the diplomacy, aid and development agencies will create new threats to national security, diminish our international influence, harm American workers and the American economy.

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En République Démocratique Du Congo, l'Opposition Doit Se Concentrer sur la Transition Vers les Elections, et NON Sur les Conflits Personnels

La mort récente du leader vénéré de l'opposition politique congolaise, Etienne Tshisekedi, a nécessité une réorganisation de la direction du mouvement.

Les hauts responsables politiques du mouvement, connu sous le nom de «Rassemblement des Forces Politiques Acquises au Changement», se sont réunis le 2 mars 2017 pour choisir leurs nouveaux coordonnateurs principaux. Ils ont choisi Felix Tshisekedi comme Président du Mouvement et Pierre Lumbi comme Président du Conseil des Sages.

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Democratic Republic of the Congo Opposition Must Concentrate on the Transition to Elections, NOT on Personal Feuds

The recent death of the Congolese political opposition’s revered leader Etienne Tshisekedi has required a reorganization of the movement’s leadership.

The senior politicians in the movement, known as the “Reunion of Political Forces Committed to Change”, met on March 2, 2017 to select their new principal coordinators. They selected Felix Tshisekedi as President of the Movement, and Pierre Lumbi as President of the Council of Elders.

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En RDC, Les menaces de Lambert Mende Pour Emprisonner Moise Katumbi sont une Insulte à la Mémoire du Feu Tshisekedi

A la veille du retour du feu Etienne Tshisekedi au Congo pour ses funérailles d'Etat, le porte-parole du gouvernement Lambert Mende menace Moise Katumbi de prison s'il accompagnait les dépouilles du héros sur la route de Kinshasa.

La déclaration de Mende sur Katumbi est à la fois une insulte à son ami et allié, le feu Tshisekedi, et un acte illégitime. Le juge qui a trouvé Katumbi coupable de fraude, s'est ensuite enfui en Belgique où elle a dit à la presse qu'elle avait agit seulement sous la menace de mort, et qu'il n'y avait aucune base pour les accusations portées contre lui. La juge a également informé les enquêteurs de la CENCO que les accusations contre Katumbi sont totalement fausses.

M. Mende devrait avoir honte de lui-même pour avoir profané en ce moment solennel de deuil national pour Etienne Tshisekedi. Il devrait également avoir honte d'essayer de faire pression sur la CENCO qui a la responsabilité de décider du sort de M. Katumbi en ce qui concerne les accusations douteuses contre lui.

Monsieur Mende, soyez adulte. Votre Président et le peuple de la République Démocratique du Congo méritent d'être traités avec respect.

In the DRC, Lambert Mende’s Threats to Jail Moise Katumbi are an Insult to the Memory of the late Tshisekedi

On the eve of the late Etienne Tshisekedi’s return to the Congo for his state funeral, presidential spokesman Lambert Mende is threatening Moise Katumbi with prison if he accompanies the hero’s remains on route to Kinshasa.

Mende’s statement about Katumbi is both an insult to his friend and ally, the late Tshisekedi, and an illegitimate act. The judge who found Katumbi guilty of fraud later fled to Belgium, where she told the press that she acted only under the threat of death, and that there was no basis for the charges against him. The judge also informed the CENCO investigators that the accusations against Katumbi are totally false.

Mr. Mende should be ashamed of himself for profaning this solemn moment of national mourning for Etienne Tshisekedi.  He should also be ashamed of trying to put pressure on the CENCO that has responsibility for deciding Mr. Katumbi’s fate with respect to the dubious accusations against him.

Mr. Mende, be an adult. Your President and the people of the Democratic Republic of the Congo deserve to be treated with respect.


Status Report on the Political Situation in the DRC as of January 20, 2017

Status Report on the Political Situation in the DRC as of January 20, 2017

The original, and most important, violation of the DRC constitution took place on November 19, 2016 when the scheduled presidential election did NOT take place. One month later on December 19, President Kabila ceased to be the elected President of the DRC. On this date, President Kabila became the Transitional President of the DRC. 

As Transitional president of the DRC, President Kabila no longer commands the majority of the Congolese people. He must, therefore, share power with the opposition until the new presidential election takes place.

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RDC: Rapport d'Etape au 20 janvier 2017 sur la Situation Politique

RDC: Rapport d'Etape au 20 janvier 2017 sur la Situation Politique

La violation initiale et la plus importante de la constitution de la RDC a eu lieu le 19 novembre 2016 lorsque l’élection présidentielle prévue n’a PAS eu lieu. Un mois plus tard, le 19 décembre 2016, le président Kabila a cessé d’être le président élu de la RDC. Aujourd’hui, le Président Kabila est devenu Président de la Transition de la RDC.

En tant que Président de la Transition de la RDC, le président Kabila ne commande plus la majorité de la population de la RDC. Il doit donc partager le pouvoir avec l’opposition jusqu’à ce que la nouvelle élection présidentielle ait lieu.

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Questions on Africa for Secretary of State Designate Rex Tillerson

Questions on Africa for Secretary of State Designate Rex Tillerson

President-elect Donald Trump has nominated Rex Tillerson, the President of the Exxon Mobil Corporation, to be the next Secretary of State. On Wednesday January 11, 2017, Mr. Tillerson will testify before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, which will later vote on whether or not to recommend his confirmation to the full Senate.

It is expected that the senators will concentrate at the outset on Mr. Tillerson’s close relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Under Tillerson’s leadership, ExxonMobil has invested heavily in oil and gas fields in the Russian Arctic. The senators will want to know if Tillerson’s special and close relations with the Russian leadership could cause problems for US policy toward Russia after he becomes Secretary of State.

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