Sunday, 4 March 2007

The invisible Minister of Trade resigns

Democratic clowning

Indeed, one would like to read some news about things positive, interesting and worthy of commendation about Africa, but there is always the clown factor of certain leaders that brings our continent into ridicule and laughable derision.

One such situation comes out of the Democratic Republic of Congo, once known as Zaire - I have always been skeptical of any country that uses democratic as a qualifier in its official title - it is a very cynical exercise in claiming what they really are not or are pretending to be.

Algeria as the People's Democratic Republic of Algeria

Congo Democratic Republic of the Congo which is quite different from the Republic of Congo

Ethiopia - Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia

North Korea as Democratic People's Republic of Korea which is quite distinct from the Republic of Korea commonly known as South Korea

Laos - Lao People's Democratic Republic

São Tomé and Príncipe - Democratic Republic of São Tomé and Príncipe

Sri Lanka - Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka

East Timor - Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste

Western Sahara - Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic

You can draw your own conclusions, but it is clear none of the great Western democracies bear this moniker and Sri Lanka - well, simply the socialist bent can be enough for conflict and there is much conflict in that country at the moment, they probably need to move into the 21st Century - Pretty Damn Quick.

Some would say the elections in DR Congo were fair enough, that the losing party accepted the result was probably a unique African miracle - it was time for the winner to govern.

Appointing a phantom

A Prime Minister - Antoine Gizenga - is appointed, to form his government, he makes requests for names to be put forward for ministerial positions, it transpired that the party leader Honorius Kisimba Ngoy put forward two names in the hope that an unknown name along with his would guarantee his being selected for the cabinet.

The name seemingly unknown to the Prime Minister now has the trade portfolio, his name; Andre Kasongo Ilunga.

Mr. Ilunga, it appears has now resigned this appointment without having taken it up in a supposedly secret letter to prime minister. It would appear Mr. Ilunga is either a very reclusive person or a phantom - a political ploy and creative invention of the Mr. Ngoy.

There is no reason to assume that Mr. Ngoy has been up to any foul play, his name Honorius is derived from the word "Honour", he must be an honourable man - I buy that line, NOT!

Meanwhile, the Prime Minister having "read" the secret letter from the "phantom" Mr. Ilunga has somewhat rejected the resignation, launched an investigation and said Mr. Ilunga whom he has never seen would remain in his post till the reality and truth dawns or maybe till he is embarrassed enough to note that we are laughing our heads off.

Seriously ...

But seriously, DR Congo has been in turmoil for years, it finally has a prospect of peace and "good" governance to move its people out of the violent and sorry history of dictatorship and war, with the key areas of importance requiring attention being the economy, infrastructure, resources and trade.

How a Prime Minister could select someone for such an important portfolio without interviewing the candidate and ascertaining the credentials, suitability or even ideology of the prospect escapes me.

If I wanted anyone on my team, I would really want to know what make them tick, if we can work together and what our common goals and purposes are.

DR Congo is a country in need of learned technocrats and visionary who would bring real solutions to the country and its people it should not be sacrificed to nepotism, vented interests, sycophancy and unfair patronage.

When it comes to a cabinet, taking the word of one man for ascertaining the eligibility or availability of another is just not enough; in this it is not so much the party leader that has been dishonest but the prime minister who has been remiss in a requisite responsibility and has not been embarrassed enough to right this debacle with the utmost alacrity.

This is one of the challenges of true leadership that faces Africa today.

For now, the mention of DR Congo does bring a laugh developing into a guffaw.

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