DR Congo: The president rekindles the debate on his “victory” in the 2018 presidential election

“With Tshisekedi in power, it’s the return of the Belgian Congo”

The wife of the president of the Democratic Republic of Congo but also his sister-in-law, a candidate for the legislative elections in the rich province of Lualaba, his chief of staff and his deputy director-cab are all of Belgian nationality.

“Here, in this district of Limete, it’s a bit of a Belgian garden”, laughs Yolande, 52 years old. His friend Gertrude, 54, who walks with him on the commercial square in the commune of Limete, in Kinshasa, two blocks from the historic home of the Tshisekedi family, continues. “At the 10e street, all the arteries are named after flowers. Zinotnias, Canas, Petunias, that’s why we call it the botanical district but also, sometimes, the district of Belgians or Brussels residents », she adds with a burst of laughter.

In this stronghold of the UDPS, the political group which was for a long time the main opposition party to Marshal Mobutu then to Kabila, there is no doubt that the Tshisekedi clan and its friends are mostly of Belgian nationality.

“With the exception of Félix and perhaps Maman Marthe (his mother), they all became Belgian,” continues Yolande. “ They came back to Congo to plunder the country and then when they are chased out, they will return to Belgium with our money.”

Far from Brussels, the two ladies from Kinshasa are not far from the truth. Indeed, according to our research and on the basis of Belgian administrative documents, those around Félix Antoine Tshisekedi have largely renounced their Congolese nationality.

In October, during a press conference given in Brussels, Maître Alexis Deswaef, the lawyer of Chérubin Okende, a former minister, spokesperson for the Ensemble party of Moïse Katumbi, the main adversary of President Tshisekedi for presidential election of December 20, announced that the head of the Congolese military intelligence services, Christian Ndaywell, was of Belgian nationality.

Article 10 of the Congolese Constitution is clear: “Congolese nationality is one and exclusive”. By opting for Belgian nationality, General Christian Ndaywell renounced his Congolese nationality. “ How do you expect us to win the war in eastern Congo if our military leaders have even abandoned their Congolese nationality », Explains a national deputy particularly angry by this announcement.

“At the end of the era of President Joseph Kabila, we even had a Belgian Prime Minister in Congo,” explains a European diplomat stationed for a time in Kinshasa. “Indeed, Prime Minister Samy Badibanga was of Belgian nationality. He had supposedly regained his Congolese nationality by a decree from the Minister of Justice at the time, Alexis Thambwe, but all this was absolutely illegal.”

During his press conference in Brussels, Maître Deswaef clearly explained that to regain their Congolese nationality, Messrs. Ndaywell or Badibanga had to formally renounce their Belgian nationality, which was never done.

A very Belgian presidential cabinet

They are not the only ones to have “forgotten” to resume their Congolese nationality in the first circle of power.

Indeed, the first lady, Denise Nyakeru, the wife of the head of state who is leading her electoral campaign by castigating “foreigners” who are her adversaries, took Belgian nationality on September 13, 2002. Nothing illegal, just a little surprising in a clan which tries to unite public opinion around an exacerbated nationalism.

The president’s sister-in-law Isabelle Kibasa Maliba-Tshisekedi also acquired Belgian nationality in 2000 which allowed her to become, during her long stay in Belgium, in the province of Walloon Brabant, a permanent socialist deputy (provincial minister). Today, she resigned from this position and is running – completely illegally – as a candidate for the legislative elections on the UDPS-Kibassa list in the province of Lualaba.

In the first circle of power in Kinshasaa, the Belgians occupy prominent places. Which makes a parliamentarian well aware of this “secret” say that “with Tshisekedi in power, it’s the return of the Belgian Congo.” Indeed, the chief of staff of the President of the Republic Guylain Nyembo, like the deputy chief of staff André Wameso, are both of Belgian nationality.

“Nothing illegal but new, it is difficult to present yourself as a nationalist and criticize other candidates for their lack of “Congolity” when you have preferred to surround yourself with people who have denied Congolese nationality,” explains a Congolese lawyer close to the opposition.