Namibia: DRC Nationals Say Country Can Emulate Namibian Stability

11 January 2019

Alvine Kapitako and Selma Ikela

WINDHOEK - Nationals of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) living in Namibia positively welcomed news that opposition leader Felix Tshisekedi is the provisional winner of that country's presidential elections - saying he can learn a lot from stability in Namibia.

Joy and relief was written all over the faces of Congolese nationals who spoke to New Era about the politics of the DRC, saying Tshisekedi is a "real Congolese".

"We were up all night waiting for the results to be announced. I don't know how to explain my emotions but we didn't know that President Joseph Kabila would accept that the opposition has won," said 33-year-old Steve Jules, who could not hide his joy at the news of Tshisekedi's victory.

The political instability in the DRC forced him to relocate to Namibia in 2014 with hopes to better his living conditions.

Jules, who has a qualification in chemistry and biology, said he could not practice what he studied because of the instability in his country of birth.

As a result, he ended up working as a trader, buying goods from neighbouring countries and selling them in the DRC.

Another Congolese national Prosper Kabangu, 49, has a degree in psychology but never had the privilege of practicing. He blamed his ordeal on political instability in DRC.

Jules and Kabangu hope for change in their country.

"Namibia is a very peaceful country. There is so much stability and peace. You have no idea what it means to go to bed knowing that you will wake up the next morning. It's not like in Congo where you go to sleep and do not know if you will wake up," said Jules.

DRC is Africa's biggest copper producer and the world's largest source of cobalt, an essential ingredient in batteries for everything from Apple's iPhones to Tesla's electric cars.

During Kabila's rule, foreign investors such as Glencore have poured billions of dollars into the country, though grand-scale corruption and continuing violence have allegedly held back development.

Jules and Kabangu remarked that no development has taken place during Kabila's regime.

Other than peace, Jules and Kabangu hope to see development in the road infrastructure, electricity, free education, free healthcare and civil servants being paid better for their services.

"People go without salaries for months," said Kabangu.

John Mutobo, another citizen, hopes for peace in the DRC henceforth.

Sadness and relief was evident on the face of Mutobo, who moved to Namibia in 2004. Both his parents were killed under the regime of Joseph Kabila, he said.

"He made Congo to suffer," said Mutobo with a tone of frustration and anguish. "This morning when I came to work and saw the news on developments back home I thought I was dreaming. I've been drinking alcohol a lot the past weeks because I didn't want to think about the situation back home," added Mutobo, barber in Windhoek.

"I am very, very happy that Tshisekedi won. He is a real Congolese and he will put the affairs of his country before his interests," said Mutobo.

If fully confirmed as winner, Tshisekedi will be the first opposition challenger to win a presidential election since the DRC gained independence some 59 years ago - in 1960.

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