Congolese in SA rejoicing at prospect of return to DRC after 'landmark' election

2019-01-12 21:11
Felix Tshisekedi (File: AFP)

Felix Tshisekedi (File: AFP)

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Members of the Congolese diaspora living in the Western Cape are rejoicing at the prospect of a change of government in their native land, a spokesperson has said.

Leonard Mulunda, spokesperson of the Congolese Community of the Western Cape, told News24 on Thursday that an opposition victory in his home country had been a long and hard-won fight.

"It is a landmark victory. We've been fighting for it. Many of us thought we'll never leave South Africa," he said. 

He estimated that about 80% of the Congolese citizens who live in South Africa would return to the DRC if the situation normalised.

Some of his countrymen are qualified medical doctors or other professionals, but are working as car guards in South Africa because their status made it difficult to find work in the country, he added.

He said they wanted to engage with South African institutions on how the country changed from apartheid to democracy.

"The lesson we learnt [in South Africa] is democracy is not about strong people, it is about a strong system."

He said they wanted to build strong institutions in the Congo to hold politicians accountable. 

Acknowledge Felix Tshisekedi as president

Mulunda also called on the South African government to acknowledge Felix Tshisekedi as president and for President Cyril Ramaphosa to personally congratulate him.

He acknowledged the "goodwill" shown by outgoing president Joseph Kabila to relinquish power.

He thanked South Africans.

There isn't clarity yet on the results of the December 30 elections. Election chief Corneille Nangaa declared Tshisekedi the winner with 38.57% of the vote, just ahead of Martin Fayulu with 34.8%, AFP reported.

The candidate backed by Kabila, hardline former interior minister Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary, came in a distant third with just 23.8%.

The influential Catholic Church notably said the result "does not correspond" with the data collected from polling stations and counting centres by its 40 000 election monitors, although it did not identify the person it believed had won.

France contests results

France too said Tshisekedi's win was "not consistent with the true results".

Ramaphosa "noted the provisional results" released by the DRC's electoral commission, his spokesperson Khusela Diko said in a statement released on Thursday. 

READ: Ramaphosa 'takes note' of DRC's provisional vote results

He called on the Independent National Electoral Commission (CENI) of the DRC to finalise the process with speed to ensure the credibility of the election and to maintain peace and stability.

"The president wishes to congratulate all parties and stakeholders in the DRC for ensuring peace and stability during the election processes and urge all regional and international interested parties to refrain from speculation and allow CENI to complete the process," reads the statement.

"President Ramaphosa also urges all political parties and their supporters to also allow CENI to perform its legal and constitutional duties without interference and pressure."


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