The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is going through a complex series of crises since long ago that requires analyzing deeply their root causes. Their tackling needs also to consider comprehensive solutions on timeframe basis due to how some responses could take time to be implemented. Additionally, DRC socio-political and geographical characteristics like its size, provinces’ socio-cultural differences and specificities of some regions must also be taken into account for prescribing long term solutions. It is in this regard that 2006 DRC’s constitution initiated a territorial reconfiguration, 26 Provinces and had defined decentralization as an administrative system that could enhance the country’s management.
However, neither territorial reconfiguration nor decentralization process none of them had been fully implemented, since 8 years ago. Though both aspects would have had a positive effect on country’s management, its failure expresses likely that they were not contextual fitting. To some extent, it is possible that politicians and country leaders seem to disagree on the territorial reconfiguration; hence delaying the decentralization process. Nevertheless, despite the DRC commitment within Addis-Ababa agreement, decentralization has been underscored during the national Consultations held in Kinshasa, September 2013. Surprisingly, the President’s speech before parliamentary members had mentioned it again while he is among key decision-makers who have the responsibility of having implemented it.
Though the president’s speech has not discussed challenges around the decentralization process, it is hard to state that the process gets delayed as matter of waiting the national consultations. Consequently, the implementation of territorial reconfiguration and decentralization process can still be facing challenges ahead and delayed again and again.
My contribution in this short essay consists in advising to parting these twin processes. It sounds unlikely that decentralizing power complicates as does territorial reconfiguration. Therefore, rather than being stagnant, the country can leave out the latter and implement the former. Simply because a territorial reconfiguration unaccompanied by power de-concentration in Kinshasa’s hand would be an empty mission given to provinces. Strikingly, as stated by 204 DRC constitution article, competences and responsibilities allocated to the future provinces make them vulnerable entities. Provinces remain hugely dependent to central government, thus falling into a masked centralized government. Recall that these entities are on average as large as Portugal (93,400 Km2). Provinces responsibilities and competences get diluted when analysis involves central level interferences stated by article 203 of the constitution.
Although I am not a decentralization specialist, my reading tends to point out that country leaders need to reconsider and reinforce competences and responsibilities given to Provinces rather that sticking on territorial reconfiguration. Consequently, decentralizing power and decision making from Kinshasa’s hand would expand the possibility of creating competition among provinces and hence expecting from the latter to provide better socio-economic services to the public. Especially as social services constitute a priority to the DRC government stipulated into Addis-Ababa agreement and stressed by National consultations. As result, DRC could grow economically while improving socio-economic conditions of its population who have been suffering for long time. In addition, decentralization can also ease the process of decision making for local and provincial issues. It can also be urged that there is a possibility of establishing a political system that consider sociocultural differences of Provinces and give opportunity to their easy management within specific Provinces.
NTANYOMA R. Delphin