HARARE - Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) Ambassador to Zimbabwe Mwana Nanga Mawampanga says president Joseph Kabila is sincere in his claims that he will hand over power to a democratically-elected leader.
Kabila has been in office since the assassination of his father, Laurent Kabila, in 2001.
He was elected in 2006 and again in 2011 in disputed polls.
And while his term of office came to an end on December 19, 2016, the 45-year-old has remained in power on the grounds that the country’s election infrastructure is not ready.
Opposition leaders had vowed never to allow Kabila to stay in office beyond December 20 as they threatened to mobilise millions in an Arab Spring-like uprising to drive him out.
However, there seems to be some modicum agreement following a political deal mediated by Roman Catholic bishops in which political parties agreed to allow Kabila to step down after elections to be held before the end of 2017.
And Mawampanga believes Kabila has no ambition of clinging onto power, adding that even if he wanted to, he had no capacity to subvert the will of the people.
“ . . . you cannot convince the Congolese on something they don’t want”, he said.
“He (Kabila) has been saying it over and over again. He wants to hand over power but is waiting for the right time to do so,” Mawampanga said, adding that the “DRC is the second-largest country in Africa by area with a population of over 80 million. There are over 400 ethnic groups”.
“In the 1950s, the Belgians believed it would take the people 30 years to take over. But a few years later, Congo gained its independence in 1960. Same with Mobutu Sese Seko, when the people did not want him he was overthrown.”
Mawampanga said contrary to allegations that Kabila is a dictator bent on clinging on to power to protect his allegedly ill-gotten wealth, the DRC leader was still loved by his people.
He added that elements causing havoc in the DRC were opposition parties sponsored by the West.
“Kabila is not a dictator and he has shown it, time and time again. He could have been African Union chairman from January last year but he passed the baton. That is not the work of a dictator.”
Turning to the situation in Zimbabwe where he has lived for the last 15 years, Mawampanga acknowledged that the ruling party had its weaknesses but contended that they were trying to keep the country afloat.
“ . . . Zanu PF are not angels, they do make mistakes but on the broad line they have great policies,” he said.