Fear in Kinshasa over restrictions

Report
from Network for the Defence of Independent Media in Africa
Published on 06 Aug 1997
"Liberate the liberator" wrote the Congoles daily ,"Le Potentiel" thus indicating what many of the five million Kinois fear that the President 'Pappa' Kabila is a hostage to his Rwandan advisors and actually in grave danger.
Ever since the arrival of Kabila's rebel troops of the AFDL (Alliance for the Liberation of the Congo) on 17th May the people of Kinshasa had to witness a subsequent cutting back on liberties. Newspaper editors are being taken in for questionning, houses and cars of people who are being accused of alliances with Mobutu's regime are confiscated and used by politicians and soldiers of the AFDL. Human rights organsations are being disturbed and political parties are not allowed to operate.

Whereas the Kinois do understand that Kabila and his AFDL-dominated government are trying to prevent further political chaos in Mobutu style - the 400 or so political parties which came up after the democratisation only strengthened Mobutus grip - they don't like to be told what is good for them. "We haven't fought all these years" says an inhabitant of the pulsating city "to be told now that all that is not worth anything." Many exiles are returning from Europe and the USA, proclaiming to introduce some kind of socialism with a hardcore capitalist touch. The chinese leader Mao Tse Tung is being quoted by many of the returnees who also claim that they are followers of Congos independence hero, Patrice Lumumba. Lumumba was murdered in 1960 with the assistance of the CIA and the then American Administration. Ironically it was the USA who let Kabila and his supporters have their way when they fought Mobutu, the former enemy of Lumumba. The eight months-long war against the desolate Mobutu army would not have been possible without the consent from Washington. But Lumumbas daughter, Juliane, who is now deputy minister for information, can't really say what Lumumbaism is all about these days. "My father stood for development and democracy."

Ms Lumumba is one of the very few independent members of Kabila's cabinet. Asked about the poor state of journalism in the Democratic Republic of Congo she says: , "It is a mess, but newspapers these days are a luxury item." So the government doesn't bother too much. In the former , "Voice of Zaire" which is now called the "Voice of the people" most journalists who worked under Mobutu have been taken over. "There is a tremendous spirit amongst them," says Juliane Lumumba. The next months will have to show whether Kabila allows the press freedom that the Kinois are demanding or whether he tries to streamline the media like an old style dictator from the 1960's.

LETTER FROM NAIROBIIS A WEEKLY TOPICAL, COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS ON CULTURAL, POLITICAL AND SOCIAL ISSUES TAKING PLACE IN AFRICA AND THE WORLD AT LARGE.

This week's issue was written by - Hanriette Schild
Programme Coordinator - Sam Mbure
Editorial Consultant - Muriuki Njeru

Network for the Defence of Independent Media in Africa ((NDIMA)
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