Despite, the socio-political, economic and humanitarian situation of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), the young Congolese have not lost hope and continue in the struggle for democracy and for the good of the country. Meanwhile, the Catholic Bishops contest the electronic voting machines.
According to Father Simon-Pierre Kakiau, Congolese missionary and theologian of the Society for African Missions (SMA), the fate of the Congolese youth, like that of the entire nation, is uncertain. And there are negative indicators of strong concern, the persistence of the war fuelled by the various militias, in the East and in the centre of the country; the revision of the growth rate and the rate of inflation; the general worsening of transport infrastructure and quality of life (famine, lack of clean water, electricity and access to basic health care); insecurity and repeated kidnappings in Kinshasa and in militia-controlled areas.
Faced with this tragic situation, “what will tomorrow’s DRC be? Has the DRC not already suffered enough? And what is the role of the local Church in this historical phase?”, asks the missionary. “By virtue of its prophetic mission, the Church remains the only hope for the young. It is not limited to denouncing social injustices in all directions, but it also supports the young Congolese with its teaching of the Gospel and with social service, giving hope for a better future. The Church is a moral force for the nation in this dark period in the history of the DRC”.
“Already after the serious electoral fraud of 2011”, highlights Fr. Kakiau, “only the Church had openly declared that these elections were neither in conformity with the law nor in accordance with the law. From that moment on, the only word heard by the Congolese is that of the Church. Thanks to the accompaniment of the Pastors, young people are aware of taking their destiny and that of the nation in their hands”.
Now a moral rebirth of the young Congolese is underway. The Congolese youth, through the accompaniment of the Church, feels responsible for the destiny of the Country and is even ready for sacrifice. Many died during the peaceful marches of December 31, 2017, January 21 and February 25, 2018. Many are still in prison or hospital. Despite the bloody repression of the police, our young people are always ready to move on, to really make the Democratic Republic of Congo a democratic state, where the common good is the essence of any political action”.
In recent years, young Congolese have developed a keen sense of patriotism, the missionary concludes, which “makes them willing to sacrifice themselves and sees them become the protagonists of their destiny. The Gospel of hope is their guide. They continue to struggle to ensure a future of justice and peace, for the good of the nation”.
Meanwhile the Catholic Bishops have questioned the electronic voting machines. The machines in question are in fact manufactured by a South Korean company. According to the South Korean Electoral Commission, the company managed to impose its product on the DR Congo by bribing some local officials. The electoral body of Seoul sent a note to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in DR Congo stating that it “can not officially support or offer any guarantee to the project to adopt a voting system through a touch screen for the presidential election in the DRC scheduled for December 2018”, expressing “serious concerns about the mandatory introduction of these instruments in the DRC despite the unstable political situation, precarious electrical infrastructures, impassable roads, high rate of illiteracy and the tropical climate that can lead to the malfunctioning of these machines”.
The statement from Seoul has caused strong controversy in the DRC. “The electors’ lack of trust in the organising institution (INEC) remains a worrying topic”, says the Committee of Catholic Laity, which asks INEC to “immediately withdraw the electoral machine project”.
The Congolese Episcopal Conference (CENCO) has requested a certification of the electoral machines on behalf of independent experts.
“There are many conflicting voices about the manufacture and origin of these machines”, said Fr. Donatien Nshole, Secretary General of CENCO. “We renew the request for the certification of the electoral machines by national and international experts in order to find a consensus capable of reassuring all parties both on a technical and legal level”, concluded Fr. Nshole. The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has set the date of the elections on December 23, 2018, and established the use of electronic voting machines.