Democracy rests on the principle of” compromise” between political forces as institutional expression of consent of those who are led. This is why we can say that the current system of lack of popular participation in the management in the basic entities and ‘‘parallel government’’ at all levels (“political laboratories”) is not a ‘‘democracy’’! Without a proper state governance, there is no true democracy in the DRC !

1. Reminder of our proposal on decentralization

The DRC could be a heavily decentralized state with 47 autonomous districts with local governments and own public administrations grouped into 20 devolved provinces to give support to these districts..

The administrative hierarchy could be – locally – the following:

  • Devolved province : Support  to autonomous districts
    • Autonomous district : political autonomy
      • Canton : coordinating and supervising activities of municipalities
        • Municipality : internal devolution in a District
          • Cells : Framing populations
  • Table 1: Equivalence of politico-administrative entities

Local equivalence

2. Organization of powers at the national level

  • Table 2 : Powers and executive decision-making bodies at the central level

Central powers

This proposal opts for a new political system fundamentally based on the consideration that ‘‘truth’’ and ‘’justice’’, ‘‘common values’’ and ‘‘common interests’’ are important for a ‘‘centrifugal democratic system’’. The institutional architecture below has been proposed in this direction to fight against the prevailing inertia of underdevelopment in the DRC !

DRC would have two political institutional blocks at the National Assembly:

  • The Institutional Bloc for Justice
  • The Institutional Bloc for Liberty

It is not to oppose” Justice” and” Liberty”, since the two concepts are in fact two sides of the same yearning for human dignity:

  • The ”Justice” focuses on issues like ‘‘equality’’ and ‘‘order’’ in society. This is the question of the ” Republic” in a Nation
  • The ”Liberty” highlights the concepts of ‘‘individuality’’ and ‘‘innovation’’ in society. This is the question of ‘‘Democracy’ in a Nation.

Only at a particular moment, and for the well-being everyone can feel the need to promote one aspect rather than another. Specifically, the elections took place at a specific time and each voter must be able to locate what members of his family, of his community and of people need most – freedom or justice – a that particular time !

More Justice or more Liberty ?

The answer to this question must be – cyclically – a choice that every adult person would be required to operate throughout its life. Only a democratic system allows – politically – the realization of this choice in peace. I suggest a democratic institutional architecture that allows such ideological alternation.

Procedures of setting up those institutional blocs and their conventions could be like below :

  • Presidential elections should be organized after the election of national MP. Elected MP’s must enroll in one or another institutional bloc, via a mandatory preexisting political party. Members of blocs should be political parties.
  • Each national MP should choose his Bloc Institutional membership before the presidential elections. The bloc with a maximum National MP’s should become the ‘‘Majority Bloc’’ in the lower chamber of Parliament (the National Assembly).
  • Institutional Blocs should organize their ‘‘Electoral Conventions’’. Each Elected MP would be entitled to a” ticket” from his political party to the Convention of his Institutional Bloc. The” ticket” for an electoral convention would entitle a National MP to appoint, in addition to himself, two Legislative Councilors (local MP’s) to whom he trusts for this purpose.
  • The Legislative Councilors (local MP’s) who are willing to convey a National MP to an Electoral Convention of any Institutional bloc are themselves ‘‘participants’’ to this convention. The high number of delegates to a particular convention is not only a matter of prestige for a specific political party but also an opportunity to impose its doctrine and its supporters into the country’s political institutions.
  • Registered political parties to institutional bloc would have therefore – from the outset – the daunting task of attracting most Elected National MP’s to control an Institutional Bloc which they belong within the National Assembly.

Better still, these political parties would then have the chance to attract – later-most Legislative Councilors (local MP’s) to the Convention of their institutional Bloc. Registered political parties have an interest in developing doctrines and political alliance strategies – as much as possible-to get more elected National MP’s and more Legislative Councilors from districts – hoping to get more tickets to the above conventions and control institutional blocs.

The triumph of a leader of a political party would be his election an Electoral Convention as Candidate to Presidential Elections or as Head of Institutional Bloc within the National Assembly. To do this, it is not necessary for him to be a MP but it would suffice to have a very good reputation, very clear political ideas, good relationship with people, good personnel and make an excellent outreach to get elected in a convention.

Moreover, the fact that national MPs can attract Legislative Councilors from districts , this involves ongoing and fruitful contacts between the two levels of people ‘s representation of the people ( National Assembly and local Assemblies), while ensuring political confrontation of ideas at national level with a possibility of political convergence of those ideas at the local level. That is why there would be ”institutional blocs” at the National and not local level. The Senate, as extension of the local Assemblies at national level would the place to attest or not those political ”confrontations” and ”convergences”!

Therefore, Institutional blocs should be :

  • Ex-post ‘’political groups’’ for a control of the National Assembly and local Assemblies.
  • Ex-ante ‘‘political groups’’ for the presidential elections. .

The Institutional Majority bloc having scored the highest National MP’s, elected into the National Assembly (Bloc) should appoint :

  • Its Presidential candidate.
  • The Head of its Parliamentary Group within the National Assembly.
  • The Leader of the Institutional Majority Bloc outside of National Assembly

The Institutional Minority Bloc would become parliamentary opposition and should appoint its leaders:

  • Its presidential candidate.
  • Head of the Parliamentary Group within National Assembly).
  • The Leader of the minority institutional bloc outside of National Assembly.

The Senate would be – above all, a matter of” wise” to moderate the ideological and political fervor expressed at the National Assembly. The Officers of institutional blocs should have the function of preparing essential elements of the political agenda and form national key political alliances.

Once elected, the leader of an institutional bloc should keep contact with the leaders and cadres of political parties who participated in the convention and would ensure that its resolutions are implemented by political parties on the ground on behalf of institutional block. He and members of his office would report to the National Assembly of the next Parliament, before formation of new blocs, majority and minority. A financial arrangement should be found to finance the activities of the Office of Institutional Blocs.

The Heads of Parliamentary Groups would rather oriented their activities inside the National Assembly.

3. Presidential elections

The President of the Republic should be elected by universal, direct, secret and chosen by the people between the two candidates, one from the Institutional Majority Bloc and another from the Institutional Minority Bloc.

The purpose of the elections by universal, direct and secret suffrage President of the Republic is to highlight modern and democratic aspects of the political system. It would be a presidential system in which Parliament would possess very important legislative powers of control but could not overthrow the government! Political powers should significantly be separated to mark the republican character of the new political system.

Two cases are possible: the President of the Republic may be elected from either the Bloc Institutional of Majority or Institutional Bloc of Minority !

In the event that the elected President of the Republic is from the Institutional Bloc of Majority, there shouldn’t be – in principle – a confrontation with Parliament.

Once elected, the President of the Republic would have these following key functions:

  • He would appoint a Prime Minister, coordinator of government activities. In this case, The President of the Republic is responsible for the governmental policy before the National Parliament, by interposed Prime Minister.
  • He would lead the policy of the Central Government and oversee all activities of government agencies by interposed ministers.
  • He would appoint Resident-Ministers in provinces on the basis of proposals regularly discussed in the Council of Ministers.
  • It would represent the State, within and outside the country. It can not be signed cooperation agreements or international conventions without regularly discusses in the Council of Ministers.
  • He would chair the National Security Council.
  • He would appoint ambassadors on the proposal of the Council of Ministers.
  • It promulgate laws and decrees regularly discussed in the Council of Ministers.

In case the President of the Republic is elected from the Institutional Minority Bloc,he should constantly seek to be reconciled with the Legislative Majority, headed by the Leader of the Institutional Majority Bloc

He would appoint a Prime Minister from the parliamentary majority as the main coordinator of government activities. This Prime Minister would appoint ministers, lead the policy of the Central Government and oversee the activities of government agencies by interposed ministers. It would be entirely responsible for government policy before Parliament.

The functions of the President of the Republic would be the following :

  • He would represent the State, within and outside the country. He would sign all cooperation agreements or international conventions as regularly discussed in the Council of Ministers.
  • He would chair the National Security Council.
  • He would appoint Resident-Ministers in provinces, on the proposal of the Council of Ministers.
  • He would appoint ambassadors on the proposal of the Council of Ministers.
  • He would promulgate laws and decrees regularly discussed in the Council of Ministers.

Both leaders should constantly strive for a consensus on the key issues of the nation in a stylish and modern political uses. The Government of the Republic should be headed by the Prime Minister and -the policy of the nation conducted by him but the areas of Defense, Security and Foreign Affairs would be lead in collaboration with President of the Republic. So – in all cases – the Prime Minister would define, in consultation with the President of the Republic, the politics of the nation and assume responsibility.

In case of major difficulties with Prime Minister, the President of the Republic renegotiate with the majority bloc to appoint another. If the President of the Republic considers that cohabitation is really impossible with the parliamentary majority on fundamental issues of social values, he would convene a National Congress composed of the Senate, National Assembly and all Local Assemblies.

If the President of the Republic receives the majority and therefore the confidence of the National Congress, the President of the Republic may appoint its own Prime Minister. Here, we return on the first case where governmental policy of government Republic is conducted under the political leadership of the President of the Republic, …but by using a systematic veto against any resolution of Parliament contrary to government policy during the remainder of his mandate.

If the President of the Republic does not obtain the confidence of the National Congress, the Presidency of the Republic would be automatically vacant. In case of vacancy – and law enforcement on the vacancy of the presidential office, the President of the Senate would act on behalf of the State, as acting President of the Republic.

In this case, the acting President of the Republic would ensure the organization of the election of the new President of the Republic at the National Congress level to finish the term of the previous President of the Republic. However, if the remaining term of the previous mandate is less than 12 months, the acting President should hold general elections.

4. Mandate of elected leaders

The question is important in terms of the die which must be used to influence the policy of the Government of the Republic.

It seems reasonable to give the President of the Republic a single non-renewable term of eight years in the DRC. The mandate of 8 years is two terms of the United States President in which political structures are stable from long time ago. It also corresponds to a long legislature to deal with big issues of internal development in our African countries.

In the institutional logic above, this implies also 8 years mandate for National MP’s who has the power to organize conventions for the election of the President of the Republic. For these National MP’s, the mandate should be only once renewable (maximum 16 years)!

To influence these 8 years mandates, The Constitution should contain some mechanisms to over control them. Therefore, the Senators should be elected for a term of four years, renewable 2 times (maximum 12 years) ! This implies that local elections would be held every 4 years !

In fact. the renewal of local political instances (Municipal colleges, local Assemblies and local governments) every 4 years would be also an important moment at the national. It is necessary to give the Senate the power to convene the National Congress – concurrently the President of the Republic:

  • To ‘‘punish’’ the Government of the Republic, despite strong support at the National Assembly.
  • To ‘‘punish’’ the President of the Republic or the Prime Minister on a matter of social values lurking behind his political management, …by forcing him to resign either before or after a motion of no confidence at the National Congress or …by passing a ‘‘Question’’ to a popular referendum.
  • To prevent, in cases of high treason, the President of the Republic to exercise if the National Assembly fails to bring him to justice.

In the institutional architecture here proposed, Congolese democracy would require – every 8 years – to organize presidential elections before the end of September. In November, all National MP’s and all local Legislative Councilors – should have been elected and in February, it should indeed mark the beginning of the term of the elected President.

Jean Munyampenda, Economist

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