Close

Support Global Voices

To stay independent, free, and sustainable, our community needs the help of friends and readers like you.

Donate now »

See all those languages up there? We translate Global Voices stories to make the world's citizen media available to everyone.

Learn more about Lingua Translation  »

Congo-Brazzaville: How Long for Sassou Nguesso?

pointenoirecongo
Hot afternoon in Pointe-Noire, Congo. Photo by Kaysha.

As Guinea has started a process that may lead to the dismantling of its 50-year dictatorship, bloggers from the Republic of Congo (not to be confused with the Democratic Republic of Congo), a country with its own dinosaur dictator Denis Sassou Nguesso are daring to dream of ways in which he might be brought down. That being said, they are definitely at a much earlier phase in the process and are mainly discussing how the opposition might get its act together and unify against him.

Sassou Nguesso Under Pressure via… Flickr

According to Vous Reprendrez Bien Un Peu D'Humanisme, Sassou Nguesso has started an anti-corruption campaign, implicating several of his close relatives and allies one of which has just “repented”. But the blogger is skeptical:

Le Président veut faire croire qu'il s'attaque à la corruption. C'est dans le but de faire plaisir à la société civile qui commence à ne plus supporter les débordements et les exactions du clan. Mais pour être crédible, il faut jeter des gens en pâtures.

The President would have us believe that he is attacking corruption. That's in order to please civil society which is starting to be fed up with the clan's excesses. But in order for the effort to be credible, some heads have to roll.


The chosen sacrificial lamb, alleges the blog, is the French former head of the SOCAB company, who conveniently has no family ties to the President. The blogger continues:

Le dossier de ce premier repenti se trouve sur flickr. Il s'intitule “ces pauvres voleurs congolais“. Il a visiblement été mis par un complice du clan de malfrats. Un repenti qui, après de bons et loyaux services, a perdu la confiance des autres malfaiteurs. Ceux-ci, par opportunisme se sont retournés contre lui. Le résultat est là: le repenti a décidé de rompre la loi du silence en diffusant des documents qui en disent long sur la gangrène qui mine le régime congolais et le cynisme sans limite de ces gens.

Le dossier contient 51 photos dont certaines sont des documents scannés parmi lesquels différentes lettres à des dignitaires du régime comme le Président de la République, Denis Sassou Nguesso. Les photos sont annotées avec des explications ou des commentaires du repenti.

The file of the first one to have “repented” is on Flickr. It is called “Those Poor Congolese Thieves.” It has visibly been uploaded there by a [former] accomplice of the thieving clan. By someone who after good and loyal services lost the trust of the other thieves. They, by opportunism, then turned against him. The result is here: the repented one has decided to break his silence by publishing documents which speak volumes on the gangrain that eats away at the Congolese regime and its limitless cynicism.

The file comprises 51 pictures some of which are scanned documents including different letters to the regime's officials, including President Sassou Nguesso himself. The pictures are annotated with explanations or comments by the repenting one.

The blogger then goes on to quote and analyze the letter addressed to the President. He also explains that the betrayed “thieves” include the son and the nephew of the President. (The Flickr page and the blog allege that the son Edgard Nguesso was recently robbed of 270,000 Euros in a Paris hotel room.)

A Blueprint for Corruption

The blogger continues with what he believes to be the President's plan for political survival:

1. Faire main basse sur une grande partie de l'argent lié au pétrole par les sociétés écrans de Gokana en le plaçant dans des paradis fiscaux

2. Obtenir le maximum d'aide publique et d'effacement de la dette (vous comprenez nous on est de pauvres africains, on n'a pas d'argent…)

3. L'argent qui parvient tout de même au trésor sert à des grands chantiers pour construire des bâtiments inutiles. Ces chantiers sont accordés aux entreprises du clan Nguesso qui en profitent pour se faire bâtir un patrimoine de rois.

Mais à côté de cela, le FMI est content car il y a de la croissance au Congo. Même si cette croissance est une croissance contre-productive qui risque de générer ce qui se produit actuellement en Guinée avec un autre champion du cynisme Lansana Conté.

  • Take the majority of the oil money through the ghost companies of Gokana by putting it in fiscal havens.
  • Obtain a maximum of public aid and erasing of debt (“you see, we are poor Africans with no money…”)
  • The money that makes it nonetheless to the treasury is used on big construction projects to build useless buildings. The contracts are given to companies owned by Nguesso allies who can develop their networth.

But next to that the IMF is happy because there is growth in the Congo. Even though this growth is counter-productive and risks generating what is currently happening in Guinea with another champion of cynicism, Lansana Conté.

The blogger seems unconvinced that the flurry of resulting construction will be of use to the population:

Pendant que le reste du peuple congolais meurt prématurément de malnutrition, de choléra, de paludisme …. des différents maux de la pauvreté pour faire simple, le clan construit des édifices de prestiges. Mais, il est incapable de faire sortir de terre des hôpitaux dignes de ce nom.

Ces palais présidentiels qui fleurissent partout au Congo,… au-delà de leur inutilité pour la lutte contre la pauvreté (voir les objectifs du millénaire), sont au contraire les meilleurs alibis pour les riches dignitaires du régime afin d'augmenter toujours plus la valeur de leur patrimoine immobilier.

While the rest of the Congolese people dies prematurely of malnutrition, cholera and malaria … or all the ills of poverty, the clan erects buildings of prestige. Meanwhile, it is incapable of coming up with hospitals worth that name.

The presidential palaces that are flourishing all around the Congo … beyond their uselessness for any fight against poverty (forget about the UN's millenium goals) are instead the best alibis for rich regime affiliates so that they may continually increase their real estate empires.

Murder of Guy Yombo

Le Pangolin links to a local human rights group's outcry faced with the death in detention of Guy Yombo, zeroing in on other ways in which the regime is creating discontents:

L’Observatoire congolais des droits de l’homme (OCDH) exprime sa vive préoccupation et condamne le meurtre, commis le 23 janvier 2007, au commissariat de police de Ouenzé 2 (Ouenzé mandzandza) sur la personne de M. Guy Yombo.

Arrêté depuis le 13 janvier 2007, par des agents de police du Commissariat de Ouenzé 2 dans le 5ème arrondissement de Brazzaville, sans mandat et visiblement sans motif connu de la famille, la victime est décédée dans des conditions non encore élucidées, après 12 jours de garde à vue dans les geôles du commissariat susmentionné. Selon des informations parvenues à l’OCDH, Guy Yombo, la trentaine révolue, a succombé à la suite des actes de torture et de mauvais traitements qui ont laissé des stigmates sur son corps.

The Congolese Human Rights Watch (OCDH) expresses its great preoccupation and condemns the murder, committed January 23, 2007 in the police station of Ouenzé 2 of Mr. Guy Yombo.

Arrested since January 13, 2007 by police officers of the Ouenzé Police Station 2 in the 5th section of Brazzaville without warrant and without any motive known to the family, the victim died in as of yet unknown circumstances, after 12 days of incarceration in the police station's jail. According to information given to OCDH, Guy Yombo who was in his thirties, passed following acts of torture and bad treatment which left scars on his body.


Will Congo-Brazzaville be the next Guinea?

Not unless the opposition gets its act together says one blogger. Over at Forum Réalisance, in a plea to the diaspora, Patrick Mampouya asked:

Les Congolais sont en général des personnes de qualités et bien formés (quand ils sont formés); pourquoi donc n'arrivons nous pas à nous organiser, à nous ras, a sembler autour d'un leader?

The Congolese are generally quality people who are highly trained when educated; why then can we not organize ourselves, rally around a leader, party or a movement?

Les structures qui oeuvrent pour le Congo (Partis politiques, cercles de réflexions et autres mouvements) sont sclérosés par leurs dirigeants qui se disputent le leadership. … et font le jeu du dictateur Sassou. … Au lieu de multiplier les groupes et associations, nous devrions investir et renforcer en masse les partis politiques existants pour y créer des courants, y apporter d'autres manières de fonctionnements, des idées neuves et des concepts d'aujourd'hui.

The structures at play in the Congo (political parties, think tanks and other movements) are paralyzed by their heads who are fighting each other for leadership…. They are playing right into the hands of Sassou the dictator. Instead of multiplying groups and associations, we should invest in and reinforce existing political parties to create movements, bring new ways of functioning, new ideas and updated concepts.

Le Pangolin comes up with concrete steps for the opposition, claiming anything else is (Fr) “intellectual masturbation”:

C'est de déclarer à la face du monde et des congolais qu'elle ne participera à aucune élection et de faire un travail de lobbying africain et international surtout en l'endroit de la France et USA qu'elle ne participera pas à aucune élection qu'elle veut un changement en profondeur, une transition de 3 à 5 ans, dès aujourd'hui.

Declare to the face of the world and to the Congolese that it [the opposition] will not participate in elections. Lobby to that effect in in Africa and abroad (especially France and the USA), stressing that it [the opposition] will not participate in elections but that instead it wants in-depth change, a transition of 3-5 years, starting today.

Over at Demain le Congo Brazzaville, a discussion is taking place about whether “Sassou” is the only one capable of leading the Congo in the near future. One answer:

Rien ne prédestinait Sassou à être le président du Congo. Son avènement au pouvoir est lié à un contexte politique : le tribalisme du président Marien Ngouabi qui s'était largement entouré de ressortissants du nord Congo qui ont fini par l'assassiner quand il a voulu restituer le pouvoir à l'ex-président Massambat-Débat.

Nothing predestined Sassou to be President of the Congo. His rise to power is linked to a political context: the tribalism of [former] President Marien Ngouabi who had largely surrounded himself with North Congolese who ended up murdering him when he planned to return power to predecesor Massambat-Débat.

And another:

Sassou fait croire que la paix dépend de lui alors que c'est tout le contraire : c'est le désordre qui dépend de lui, lui le premier facteur de troubles sociaux depuis trente ans : quand il ne fait pas de désordre, il y a le calme, le statu quo, quoi, la pax romana, la paix armée, la terreur dans sa version “paix” forcée.

Sassou would have you believe that peace depends on him when the truth is quite the opposite: it is chaos that depends on him, as he has been the main maker of social strife for the past 30 years: when he is not fomenting trouble, things are calm, as in armed peace, terror in its forced “peace”version.

8 comments

  • I really love the Flickr wall of shame! There’s another Congo-Brazzaville site operating on the same premise called “Les Nouveaux Riches Congolais.” I wonder if they are related. At any rate, it would be great if there were a site that aggregated similar projects around Africa (or the world). I love the way people are creatively using new technologies to fight old problems.

  • Great articles. I’m satisfied those words aree translated in enhlish. I think those should be tranlated into spanish too.

  • claire

    Very good find and post. Congratulations.

  • Bee-Human:

    If all goes well, there should be mechanisms in place for that very soon. Keep checking back.

  • Thanks, Claire.

  • feran mingui

    dear mr

    my name`s feran mingui i`am a congoles but i study in south africa i want to aply for job back home cause after class we have to work and got a experience for 2 years with welding i will be happy if got your message
    thank you very much

  • Hi Feran. We here at Global Voices are just a website that reports on what blogs of the world have to say. I suggest you contact Congolese or Congo-based organizations with your query.

  • Sandra

    I have been traveling in and out of Brazzaville for the past 3years, and haven’t seen any noticeable change as yet.It’s heartbreaking. Talking to the people here about the current conditions the word “corruption” repeatedly arises. How is it possible that the needs in this country is so obvious yet nothing seems to be improving? What is it going to take to finally see people putting there own interests aside and talk less and start acting? What is the use of wearing an expensive suite and driving expensive cars if your surroundings is so dirty? What does it say about you as a human being? Everyone ought to be proud of his or her country/enviroment.So much has to happen and it’s not always about huge amounts of money. Turning a blind eye will not make the problems disappear. The journey to improvement starts with a simple, single step.

Join the conversation

Authors, please log in »

Guidelines

  • All comments are reviewed by a moderator. Do not submit your comment more than once or it may be identified as spam.
  • Please treat others with respect. Comments containing hate speech, obscenity, and personal attacks will not be approved.