Elections in the DRC: Congolese Ceni spending under the microscope

Elections in the DRC: Congolese Ceni spending under the microscope

The failure to vote on December 20 cost more than a billion dollars in total opacity.

While the Congolese and the international community continue to discover day after day the chaos knowingly organized by the president of the Independent National Electoral Commission (Ceni) Denis Kadima to prohibit any control over the figures for the presidential vote and the legislative elections at various levels, Congolese experts have carried out a study on the budgetary functioning of this commission.

The observation is pathetic and once again reflects either candid amateurism or an obvious desire to circumvent the standard, the texts and the controls to get a maximum amount of money out of the State coffers with a minimum traceability.

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This expenditure analysis was carried out by the Center for Research in Public Finance and Local Development (CREFDL), supported by the German NGO Democracy Reporting International.

This approach, which is primarily intended to be civic-minded, is based on more than 1,500 documents collected.

The observation is clear: Denis Kadima’s CENI, to achieve what appears to be an electoral fraud, spent 25.1% more than in the previous electoral cycle. It received 1,091 million dollars from the Congolese government out of the 1,100 million requested and one of the budgets voted for 711 million, an overrun of 53.31%. The authors of the report also point out the fact that the Ceni, for its part, declared having received… only $930 million. Where did the 161 million go between what was paid by the government and what the Ceni declares having received? Mystery !

Explosion of workforce

CREFDL experts also point to the increase in the number of permanent CENI staff. These increased from 1,369 employees in 2200 under the presidency of Corneille Nangaa to 3,240 in 2022, after the installation of the current Office, an increase of 1,871 agents. In addition, notes the report, “the workforce not recognized by the public treasury and on the payroll is estimated at 117 agents… paid by the Ceni. An observation which makes an electoral expert experienced in these exercises in Africa say that “the money spent by the Ceni was not lost for everyone anyway.”

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The experts also noted that many financial flows were carried out through commercial banks and not through the Central Bank of Congo, which allows any internal control to escape. This practice, notes the report, “is likely to encourage money laundering and the financing of terrorism, overheat the foreign exchange market and lead to inflation”.

Uncontrolled spending

The report also looked at how CENI officials spent the funds allocated to them. The observation is always the same, the absence of control, vagueness or even opacity reigned supreme here too. “Once again, this opacity is the door open to all excesses, all uncontrolled outflows of funds”, continues our expert. CREFDL observers say nothing else, pointing out that no less than 80% of expenses with local suppliers were incurred without authorization. The calls for tenders for the CENI’s public expenditure seem to be the biggest exception.

Another suspicious expense: the warehouses rented by the CENI for the storage of equipment belong 83.71% to private individuals. “Enough to arouse the concern of those involved in the electoral process”, cautiously underlines the report which also highlights the countless “salamictions” of the markets to escape the tender procedure.

Hundreds of millions of dollars

Throughout the pages, Congolese experts demonstrate that hundreds of millions of dollars were spent or allegedly spent on bases that were at least suspect.

We thus discover that the Ceni ordered 33,000 new voting machines, at a cost of 109,869,726 dollars. Objective: to complete the stock of 80,000 machines recovered from the previous electoral cycle. “After observing the allocations, this amount paid to Miru Systems (the Korean company which markets these machines) for the 33,000 machines results in an excess of 62,778,726 dollars,” notes the report. The findings of this report are obvious. The electoral cycle was an opportunity for some to line their pockets with overbilling, missed purchases, commissions, kickbacks, etc.

A total waste. One more charge against the president of the Ceni Denis Kadima who appears more and more as the great organizer of exceptional money and money which could not however be carried out without the agreement of the top of the hierarchy.