DRC: One year in and Félix Tshisekedi is yet to make his mark

By Romain Gras, Stanis Bujakera Tshiamala
Posted on Monday, 27 January 2020 16:29

After 12 months in power, Félix Tshisekedi has yet to find a way to stand out from his influential predecessor and, above all, to meet the pressing expectations of his fellow citizens.

With a bulging torso, furrowed brow, shorts and T-shirt damp with sweat, Félix Tshisekedi looks like a boxer ready to get back into the ring. Taking advantage of a few days off, the Congolese president at the beginning of the year was walking on the beach of Muanda. Was he thinking back to his inauguration on 24 January 2019?

Just over a year ago, Tshisekedi was sitting next to a Joseph Kabila. He was without his khaki fatigues and goatee and although a bit tense, seemed to savour the moment. Did he anticipate the difficulties that would arise from this unlikely alliance with his predecessor?

His detractors at the time described him as a man who could be influenced, making a point of underlining that Joseph Kabila had been a fine strategist. The task promised to be monumental.

“We weren’t naïve, we knew that everything wasn’t going to be presented to us on a platter, we were prepared,” argued one of Tshisekedi’s close collaborators.

Time is short

A year later, to those who still doubt the basis of his power, Tshisekedi gives only one answer: “Congo has only one boss, and that’s me.” He promised 2020 would be the year of action, during his speech on the state of the nation, as if responding to those who, like the opponent Olivier Kamitatu, accuse him of being an “automatic distributor of promises”.

The Head of State knows it, the workload is immense, and time is already running out. As soon as he was elected, he must have been thinking about the next election.

“2023 is tomorrow,” confirmed one councillor.