The people of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) took to the streets on December 9, 2011 in response to the announcement by Daniel Ngoy Mulunda, leader of the Independent National Electoral Commission (CENI), that Joseph Kabanga Kabila had been declared the winner of the November 2011 presidential elections.
Kabila was challenged in the election by Etienne Tshisekedi, president of Union for Democracy and Social Progress (UDPS). Tshisekedi is considered the most popular politician in Congo today.
It is an open secret that Kabila could not win a fair electoral contest against Tshisekedi, so this time, the unpopular and hated Kabila regime decided to hold only one round of presidential elections, which were coupled with legislative elections for 500 seats.
Despite the fact that most of the so-called international observers recognized massive fraud, including all sorts of irregularities and unsatisfactory election preparations, CENI declared Kabila the winner, with 49 percent of the vote, against Tshisekedi, with 32 percent.
Under Kabila’s rule, the Congolese outside Congo were not allowed to vote because most living outside the country are opposed to Congo’s neocolonial government.
The theft of this election has sparked mass protest worldwide.
We welcome and salute this sudden emergence and expansion of African mass mobilizations in many major European and North American cities, including London, Brussels, Paris, Nantes, Tokyo, Rabat, Morocco, Denver, New York, Hague, Cologne, Dusseldorf, Montreal, Ottawa and elsewhere.
For the past nearly three weeks, these demonstrations have taken place without a coordinated national or international leadership, without a clearly articulated worldview.
Nevertheless, each action has had the participation of hundreds to several thousands of people, which clearly indicates a readiness and willingness of African people to resist.
Masses of people across all ages, political persuasions and faiths have joined.
It is clear that around the world, masses of people increasingly are concluding that if we want genuine change, we must first be the actors for the change we want.
Congo election crisis had roots in the 1960s
There has not been a fair and free election in Congo since the one won by Patrice Lumumba in June 1960.
During the Sixties, the Belgian government attempted to avoid the radicalization of the Congo’s masses, as radicalization had the potential to lead to social revolution.
The Belgians instead supported a political regime change that would continue colonial rule with a black skin.
When they organized general elections in May 1960, they were convinced that their African petty bourgeoisie agents would win, establishing a servile, pro-imperialist government that would maintain the status quo.
But Lumumba’s victory disrupted their program.
His demands—total independence for Congo from colonial control, and that the Congo’s resources must benefit the people of Congo and help build a united Africa—won him the support of the majority of Congolese and of the African world.
The Belgians and the whole white colonial world worked overtime to overturn the victory and government of Lumumba, including the anti-colonial mass movement that created him and put him to power.
Belgian and U.S. counterinsurgencies flowed into Congo soon after the celebrations and festivities of June 30, 1960, independence. They sometimes worked separately, sometimes together.
The Belgian army began the military re-occupation of Congo when they occupied the airport of Ndjli and the port of Matadi.
On July 10, under the guise of secession, the Belgian military occupied Katanga province, and by July 18, they occupied 23 key places in the Congo.
In August they triggered the secession of Kasai, and in September, both the Belgian and U.S. governments launched the coups of Kasa-Vubu and Mobutu, which arrested Lumumba and effectively overthrew his government.
The betrayal of Congo by the U.N. troops, although invited by the legitimate government of Lumumba, and the assassinations of Lumumba, Mpolo and Okito in Lubumbashi conspired to make it possible to consolidate the African petty bourgeoisie as the ruling class in Congo and effectively replace the white Belgian colonial rulers.
This imperialist assault failed to crush the Congo’s national resistance against colonialism.
The masses, inspired and determined to complete Lumumba’s struggle, continued the resistance under the leadership of Pierre Mulele, Christophe Gbenye, Gaston Soumialot and Laurent Kabila.
In January 1963, the masses launched an uprising offensive that brought three quarters of Congo under the control of anti-imperialist forces.
The Belgian- and U.S.-backed military assault of Kisangani in November 1964 culminated with the murder of at least 500,000 supporters of the revolution and marked the beginning of a long decline of Congolese revolutionary forces.
Mobutu’s second coup in November 1965 and his long, brutal reign of terror saw the 1968 murder of Mulele and many other revolutionaries, all direct consequences of the military defeat of Congo’s revolution.
Since then, the existence of and neocolonial rule by the Congolese petty bourgeoisie depends on their ability and ferocity to maintain the status quo, which means preventing the re-emergence of Lumumba’s ideas and practice in Congo, as well as mass movement throughout the Congo.
Lumumba has been the only leader to have spoken to the interests and aspirations of the masses of Congo and to uncompromisingly defend people’s interests, to the peril of his life.
Lumumba understood that until the imperialist international order is broken in Africa, Congo would never be free; alien imperialist forces will always decide what we produce and who we produce it for.
Who is Tshisekedi?
Etienne Tshisekedi, a law school graduate, began his political career as a deputy minister for justice in the government set up by Mobutu after the military coup of September 14, 1960 (the coup that was responsible for the abolition of most of the civil and political rights that had been won on the back of the struggle for flag independence in June of that year).
Mobutu’s was a counterinsurgency government, the first illegitimate government, and the first neocolonial government comprised essentially of students and young university graduates.
Known as the College Commissioners, these were the people in power when Lumumba, Okito and Mpolo were sent to Katanga to be murdered.
Tshisekedi became the first home minister of Mobutu’s new government in November 1965 and became an active member of the regime when he coauthored the Popular Movement of the Revolution’s (MPR) manifesto.
In the aftermath of the Shaba (Katanga) wars in 1977 and 1978 that weakened Mobutu’s prestige and control of the masses, the imperialist powers started thinking of replacing Mobutu with a friendly figure who could control the people’s emerging discontent.
It was under these circumstances that, in 1982, Tshisekedi and another member of the College of Commissioners, Lihau, created UDPS.
UDPS was in opposition to Mobutu but in unity with imperialism, and it grew to the point that it became the largest national organization in opposition to Mobutu.
In April 1990, Mobutu was forced by the people’s growing demand for democracy to reinstate multiparty politics, which paved the way for collaboration between Tshisekedi and Mobutu.
Under the charter of transition negotiated by the national conference in 1992, and to the dismay of the people, Tshisekedi and the other opposition leaders extended Mobutu’s rule.
Tshisekedi was, three times between 1991 and 1996, appointed the prime minister of the Mobutu regime.
He and his UDPS boycotted the 2006 elections discussed below.
Kabila’s rise to power
With the collapse of the Soviet Union and the growing mass social discontent against Mobutu, the U.S. concluded that Mobutu had become dispensable and organized his overthrow.
But the centre of this counterinsurgency was not in the Congo. It was, instead, in Rwanda and Uganda, with the armies of Kagame and Museveni, respectively.
They united their soldiers under the banner of the Alliance of Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Congo (AFDL) and placed Laurent Kabila as a figure leader.
It was common knowledge that the U.S. funded this Rwanda-Uganda alliance.
Joseph Kabila served in AFDL army as a commander, under the supervision of James Kababere, a senior Rwandan patriotic Army officer, who would become the chief of staff of Laurent Kabila following the fall of Mobutu.
In August 1998, Laurent Kabila turned his back on his Rwandan and Ugandan allies.
It is reported that he refused to honour the deals he signed with the U.S., Ugandan and Rwandan neocolonial regimes, particularly conceding lucrative mining contracts to those who put him in power.
Under the pretext of stopping the new dictatorship of Laurent Kabila, Kagame and Museveni launched another war to topple Laurent Kabila, but their effort failed when the Angolan and Zimbabwean armies intervened in favour of Laurent Kabila.
Nevertheless, Rwanda and Uganda succeeded in weakening Laurent Kabila’s power, and this war has played a key role in the death toll of more than 5 million Africans in Congo today.
Laurent Kabila was assassinated on January 18, 2001. No light has yet been shed on the authors and backers of this crime.
Joseph Kabila, unknown to the masses of people of Congo, emerged as the successor to father at 29 years old. He inherited the 1998 proxy wars that continue today in the Congo.
In 2002, Joseph Kabila agreed to a government of national unity under the peace agreement at the Inter-Congolese Dialogue in South Africa, with the puppet Congolese leaders of the proxy wars at the mercy of Kagame and Museveni.
The resulting arrangement was that Kabila would govern with four vice presidents, two of which would represent the proxy armed groups and two other deputy presidents from the civil society opposition and government’s supporters.
Proxy wars carried on despite the global peace agreement in 2002.
Elections were organized in 2006, publicized all over the world by the imperialists as the first free and democratic elections in the Congo.
An armed struggle emerged in the capital, Kinshasa, between the two contenders.
Bemba eventually agreed to go into exile, where he was later arrested by the International Criminal Court for atrocities committed by its troops in Central African Republic.
In 2006 Kabila‘s party made alliances with the parties of Antoine Gizenga, a former deputy minister of Patrice Lumumba, who had lived in exile for decades before returning in Congo (the Unified Lumumbist Party, PALU) and the party of François Joseph Zanga, Mobutu’s son.
With the aid of these alliances, Kabila was declared the winner of the 2006 elections against Jean Pierre Bemba.
However, the vast majority of Congolese believed that Bemba had actually won the popular vote.
The responsibility of revolutionaries in response to the mass protests
Most bourgeois reports suggest that imperialism is not warm to a Tshisekedi presidency.
Our national liberation struggle is bigger than Kabila and Tshisekedi. For us the question has never been the replacement of Kabila by Tshisekedi or another element of the African petty bourgeoisie.
It is our view that if a revolutionary movement comes to emerge in Congo today, imperialism would have no quarrel to turn on Tshisekedi in opposition of that revolution.
The real questions involve reconnecting the national liberation movement for self-determination with the emergence of a mass democratic movement, which is still under the influence of African petty bourgeoisie worldviews.
The responsibility of revolutionaries in response to the mass protests is to elevate the consciousness of the movement and spell out new tasks for our national liberation struggle.
The re-entry of the masses of people into political life on their own motion can’t be left in the hands of spontaneous, visionless forces of compromise of the African petty bourgeoisie.
The political scene in Congo today is dominated by several factions of the African petty bourgeoisie, which define the oppressors of our people as partners and friends.
They rest on the military defeat of the Congo revolution when, in fact, Mobutu, Tshisekedi and Kabila are only in power because of the assassination of Patrice Lumumba, Mpolo, Okito and other genuine freedom fighters.
The petty bourgeoisie are doing all they can to take control of the movement, or to pull the movement backwards with slogans and programs that do not project the strategic interests of the masses of the Congo.
We have the responsibility to intervene to prevent this movement from being used for the benefit of the self- serving elements of the African petty bourgeoisie, who see these demonstrations as another opportunity to enhance their chances to get noticed by neocolonialist powers and to secure their power base.
Our demands speak to the needs and interests of the people at the expense of imperialists and their collaborators: demand for self-determination and demand for reparations from Belgium for years of direct colonialism and neocolonialism.
Our role is to elevate the tasks and the scope of Congo’s democratic movement, which must be consistent with our goal to achieve African self-determination. This is the reason we will not limit our democratic mass movement to a call for a change of president in Congo.
The elevation of the consciousness of our people and the elevation of the tasks of our movement are necessary if we want to be free. We must discover what tasks have been left unachieved since Congo’s independence flag was first raised.
We are calling for a democratic movement against imperialism and its African collaborators in Congo and in the region.
We are not neutral, and we do not believe in democracy for everybody, just like imperialism and its Congolese collaborators do not believe in democracy for everybody, but for only a tiny minority.
Democracy must mean social justice for the majority, and African labor and resources must be paid their real value in the Congo and around the world.
We must become sharp critics of our oppressor nations, while offering our solidarity to all oppressed peoples fighting for their own national liberation.
Our presence in imperialist centers allows us also to directly confront the self-styled European progressives who sometimes call themselves socialists and communists but who have never offered genuine solidarity to the people of Congo.
No more self-serving struggles on the back of colonialism in Africa and around the world.
Our presence, particularly in Europe, must ensure that there is a real solidarity with Africa and African people.
Our mass democratic movement must criticize the bourgeois imperialist voting system, which is controlled by two or three parties that all represent the ruling class.
Access to electoral power depends on the wealth of the candidates.
It is not the will of the people, but the will of the powerful that sets the agenda in the U.S., Canada, Britain and throughout the imperialist world.
We must criticize the U.S. electoral system, which denies African, Mexican and native Indians the right to self-determination, for the simple reason that the U.S. is a nation of prisons that has held the African population captive since 1619.
We must criticize France, where immigrants are not allowed to vote, despite having worked and paid taxes all their lives.
We must be in solidarity with the indigenous people of America, who live in concentration camps called reservations. They are internally displaced people in their own land.
We must be in solidarity with Mexicans, half of whose land was stolen by the United States of America.
Democracy must mean the end of genocidal living conditions
There is more at stake here than the results of the elections.
Since 1996, Congo has been targeted with renewed intensity by the U.S. government’s counterinsurgency warfare, the most deadly undeclared war in the world.
This, in combination with 51 years of neocolonial rule and the looting of Congo’s resources and public treasury, which was facilitated by the African petty bourgeoisie, has created a situation of genocide that claims some 2500 deaths each day, 48 women raped every hour.
Most hospitals lack basic equipment and medicine. Patients can get treatment only if they can afford it, leaving millions of people at the mercy of preventable and curable diseases.
Most infrastructure — roads, bridges, public buildings, schools and etc. — have been left to decay for decades.
More than 60 percent of children no longer attend school.
Only some six percent of the population has access to clean water and electricity. The vast majority of the population are malnourished because they can’t afford even one meal a day.
Workers are regularly and deliberately unpaid for weeks, months or years.
We must complete the Congo revolution of the sixties
In today’s world, crisis is everywhere, significantly impacting the peoples of the world and shaping consciousness the world over.
Everywhere the people of the world want back their land, their freedom and their independence.
They will no longer tolerate the puppet leaders imposed upon them by imperialist oppressors.
This is not a new phenomena but, rather, a new development of the old phenomenon, a continuity of the colonized peoples’ struggles that began to achieve strategic significance just after the end of the second imperialist world war, when India gained independence in 1947 and the Chinese revolution in 1949, followed by the victories in Cuba and Vietnam.
Some 60 years later, the shift of power caused by these strategic changes expresses itself in the form of China as a world power, India as a growing industrialized power, and a host of other countries previously dominated by imperialism, who are achieving power for themselves at the expense of traditional white colonial rulers like the U.S., Britain and France.
The struggles of Chavez in Venezuela, Morales in Bolivia and others are all struggles to achieve power at the expense of imperialism.
Consequently, such shifts are fuelling the imperialist crisis, which imperialism cannot resolve short of re-colonizing the world.
Africa and the African world in general, have not achieved power on world stage because our revolution of the Sixties was destroyed by the U.S.-led coalition of white imperialist states, in collaboration with sell-out black petty bourgeoisie.
These are the reasons they killed Lumumba, Malcolm X, Felix Moumie and other African patriots.
The struggle in Egypt, Tunisia, Yemen and the resistance struggle of Congolese people around the world all are a renewal of the unfinished struggles of the 1960s, struggles of peoples who did not achieve genuine self determination and power in the Sixties.
This renewal of the people’s struggles is shaping the world before our eyes.
Elections alone will never free us
Neocolonial elections do not bring democracy and freedom to the masses of our people.
The re-election of Kabila follows the same pattern we have already seen elsewhere in Africa: arbitrary arrests, brutalization and murder of opponents and democratic forces.
Elections do not stop the constantly increasing costs for basic food and commodities, nor the theft and looting of our resources to the benefit of Europe, North America, Japan, China and other places.
In a world characterized by the split between oppressor and oppressed, elections serve to help the oppressors choose the leaders whose mission is to maintain the oppression and exploitation of the oppressed.
Elections in oppressed nations serve to choose leaders who will accept the domination of their countries.
In Congo, Rwanda and Uganda, those who control state power declared themselves winner after they have rigged the polls.
In Ivory Coast, the U.N. and French armies used the contested elections to bomb the presidential palace and impose their own choice to power, a well-known, servile IMF puppet.
In Sudan, the electoral process was effectively used by U.S.-led imperialism to balkanize Sudan, transforming ethnic differences and peaceful contradictions into antagonistic contradictions that made it easier for imperialists to further their own interests in the region.
In Nigeria, sectors of the African bourgeoisie are using state terrorism and non-state terrorism to advance their respective interests.
Where have you seen African people, or any oppressed people anywhere, being freed by elections?
The objective of the election was to get the people to rubber stamp the next neocolonial government; it does not matter who wins because it will not bring about a government of self-determination.
Imperialism and African determination are ferociously opposed to one another.
An international strategy to end all wars on Africa and African people everywhere
The proxy wars in Congo are U.S.-led, white imperialist-funded wars of looting and colonial violence against the peoples of Congo, and particularly against women.
The recent histories of DRC, Rwanda, and Uganda and of Africa, in general, show us that the armed struggle is not synonymous with national liberation struggle.
We understand that the political disagreement between pro-Hutu armed groups like Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) and pro-Tutsi Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) have nothing to do with the liberation of Rwanda, because these two organizations are in the pay of the imperialists.
Today, Uganda and Rwanda are key allies in the U.S. plan to control African resources; evidence shows cooperation between Hutu and Tutsi armed groups in exploiting minerals at gunpoint.
Insecurity in eastern Congo continues to this day.
Museveni and Kagame proxy killings continue.
The Congolese army’s wars against its own citizens know no end.
Museveni claims to fight against the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), hiding in the Congo and in Central African Republic.
Obama has recently sent troops to help Museveni fight against this LRA.
The Rwandan Tutsi rulers have been demanding that Kivu be detached from Congo and be handed to Rwanda.
Ugandan rulers also are behaving as if a part of Congo’s Oriental Province belongs to them, as the Uganda proxy war is concentrated in that region.
Since its creation under the genocidal Belgian king, Leopold II, the Congolese army has retained its essential character: a colonial army, meant to keep the people subdued and terrorized in order to facilitate the looting of Congo and protect the administrators themselves against the peoples.
And the imperialist media’s silence on the Congo’s situation goes on.
One sector of the Congo’s African petty bourgeoisie has submitted to Rwanda and Uganda’s petty bourgeoisie influence, while another sector has rejected it by labelling Kabila a Rwandan.
Many of the Congo leaders have been part of the proxy wars by joining either Kagame’s backed political parties or Museveni’s backed party.
Bemba’s party, Movement for the Liberation of Congo (MLC) was the Congo covering Museveni’s proxy war in the Congo.
Today MLC is the one big party in Congo, despite the fact that Bemba himself is incarcerated in The Hague in Holland.
Congolese Rally for Democracy (RCD), created by Kagame to cover for his proxy war, was a dominant proxy war organization in Kivu Region.
Some of its members today are key ruling elite: Alexis Tambwe Mwamba and Mbusa Nyamwisi joined Kabila’s governments.
What is happening in Congo is, first of all, a struggle between social forces for control of the mineral resources of Congo.
It is the African petty bourgeoisie from Burundi and Rwanda, who are united with the U.S. ruling class to use war as the main form of struggle to achieve U.S. strategic goals: colonization, genocide and balkanization of Congo.
The general belief is that Kabila is a Rwandan puppet in power in Congo.
Some, like Honoré Ngwanda, a former chief of Mobutu’s political police, has gone as far as to suggest that Kabila is neither Congolese nor the son of Laurent Kabila, but instead is of Tutsi origin.
This suggestion has greatly influenced the slogan heard in many Congolese demonstrations, “Ya tshitshi Zongissa ye na Rwanda!” which translates as “Tshitshi (short for Tshisekedi) send him back to Rwanda!”
This is the Congolese petty bourgeoisie respect and defense for imperialism.
The correct slogan should be, “Imperialism out of Africa! African people in Congo and Rwanda unite against Kabila, Tutsi and Hutu puppet leaders! All power to the people!“
The task of our movement is to help the masses of our people to distinguish genuine grievances from self-serving petty bourgeois interests.
We must sharpen the ideological battles to help the masses see clearly where we need to go, who are our friends and who are our enemies.
We need to help the people realise the nature of contradictions that besiege African people everywhere, which ones are contradictions amongst the people and which ones are contradictions with imperialists.
The people need to know the difference between the people and the enemy.
Not everyone who is black is part of the African people, not everyone who is Congolese is part of the masses of Congo.
Everywhere, the bourgeois compradors and bureaucrats — the enemies of the peoples — must be fought against fiercely and uncompromisingly until they are defeated.
A robust worldwide campaign against the proxy wars and genocide in the Congo must be a landmark of any genuine movement against these injustices.
The Black Is Back Coalition for Social Justice, Peace and Reparations has waged a campaign against the proxy wars and colonial rape.
Our Congo’s mass democratic movement can add a new dimension to the struggle against these wars by joining Black Is Back.
We are all fighting against the same imperialism
Wherever we are located, particularly in imperialist centers where there is already an African population involved in national resistance, we all are part of the same African resistance.
We must not fight alone, but in unity with those masses of African workers who have resided for hundreds of years in the U.S., Europe and Canada.
The African petty bourgeoisie has made the question of colonial identity criteria for political support in many places in Africa.
In Congo today, because of the influence of the African politicians who embraced the imperialist definition of who we are, many believe that the leader of Congo should be someone who is 100 percent Congolese.
This belief also explains, in part, the popularity of Tshisekedi over Kabila, because it is not based on any program but on a colonially defined nationality imposed on us by our white oppressors.
We are African people first!
We are one African people separated by slavery and by the colonial borders that have been imposed on us.
We need to unite all fronts of our resistance to bring imperialism down.
We need to show the connection between Congo’s struggles and the struggles of the rest of African people around the world, with African people everywhere.
This is why the African Socialist International is creating the “We Are Patrice Lumumba Coalition.”
One Africa! One Nation!