Like the rest of the world, our country, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, is also affected by the Coronavirus pandemic. With the first cases confirmed by the authorities on March 10, 2020, this scourge arrived much earlier than expected. In addition to mourning families and slowing the economy, this pandemic is revealing our “nudity” and spreading our collective inability to offer guarantees of protection and resilience to shocks, especially health. It also puts us face to face with our political, economic and social weaknesses.
The heavy passive
However, this “nudity” in the face of the horrors of COVID-19 was predictable, after almost 30 years of non-investment in our health system, in research and development. If the developed countries have been badly shaken, they, unlike us, have the reserves to cushion the shocks. What can a poor country like ours expect?
It is now clear that the DRC lacks infrastructure, adequate equipment and the structural and human capacities commensurate with its population to properly conduct the health response. Our hospitals are dilapidated and under-equipped, our health personnel are deprived of sufficient motivation. We have only one screening center, the INRB, to support more than 80 million inhabitants in 26 provinces, weighing the weight of the organisation of the response to the frail shoulders of the illustrious Doctor Muyembe and his dynamically patriotic team.
On the economic front, the modest state budget suggests that the latter will not be able to support the revival of the economy which will be hard hit by the Covid-19. Our food supply chains will be badly affected, given his outgoing nature.
In this context, external aid becomes crucial to fill our gaps. But unlike past crises, our partners must also face the same challenges during this Covid19 period. We must therefore count first on ourselves, on our experience, on our intelligence, on our creative capacity, on the bravery of our young people and the faith that has always inhabited us.
I salute, at this stage, the care efforts that have been deployed by the President of the Republic, and by the Government led by the Prime Minister to contain the spread of the Covid-19 and their obvious desire to mitigate its shocks socio-economic.
The heavy liabilities inherited by the Executive will not allow it to meet the important challenge we face. We must all accept to sacrifice ourselves and to support the action of the Government to transform this crisis into a real opportunity for recovery.
This is where I would like to invite us, our leaders, to civic responsibility and to a duty of solidarity which is imposed on us and on the whole people.
We decision makers need:
Show the greatest responsibility.
The experience of advanced countries tells us that it is not enough to have drugs, hospitals or respirators to control the pandemic. Significant organisational and logistical resources are also required.
The preparation was punctuated by regrettable incidents which resurfaced our usual wars of ego and leadership, our inability to unite even in the face of a common threat.
To date, no one knows exactly how we will get out of the COVID-19 threat. But it is certain that the cost of any form of laxity, complacency or incompetence will be paid in human lives. It is a matter of life and death for more than 80 million souls.
Today, from the President of the Republic to the last ordinary citizen, nobody is spared. We are all exposed in the same way. The wealthiest among us can no longer go for treatment abroad. Danger is at our door. The shock is not only sanitary. It is above all economic and social. The consequences will be more lasting throughout the national territory. This forces us to act accordingly and with full responsibility.
To prevent the Coronavirus pandemic crisis in the crisis and the post-crisis.
The ruling elite and the entire political class have an obligation to demonstrate their highest level of responsibility in the management of this health crisis. They must put away their usual demons: selfishness, tribalism, division, corruption, etc. They won’t be of any use to us.
This responsibility must translate, first of all, by supporting the effective implementation of the adapted multi sectoral response plan and the transparent management of the related resources. And in a second moment, it should allow us to anticipate the post-health crisis. We need a coherent strategic recovery plan, adapted and benefiting from the means of its implementation. This plan requires public policies that reform our education system, our health system with an emphasis on scientific research.
Meanwhile, it is obvious that the Government, in this period, must carry out a clear reallocation of its resources. These should be used as a priority to finance response efforts, which include confinement, screening of all contact persons for patients and suspected cases, as well as decontamination of targeted sites conducive to the spread of the virus. Substantial resources must be made available to support a vast prevention campaign which appears to date to be the best way to fight Covid-19.
The more we respect the rules, the more we enforce the rules, the more we will save human lives. The imperative of government responsibility is also to ensure that no dollar of the response against the Covid-19 goes to fatten a group of privileged people instead of saving lives in Ituri and Kwilu which make part of the affected provinces. Because any form of corruption around the response could only lead to a massacre.
What is valid for Treasury resources is also valid for donor support. The means made available to our country would only be useful if they were judiciously used for the response and eradication of Covid19 and the economic shock it would generate.
To the Congolese people, we must insist on:
The duty of solidarity:
I appeal to the expression of the greatest solidarity. The evil that threatens us is insidious. And we are not all equipped to fight it and protect ourselves from it. It is essential that those who have a few resources of all kinds come to the aid of those who lack them. Contrary to popular belief, the Coronavirus makes no distinction between leaders and led. It is essential that we accept the constraints imposed and scrupulously apply the barrier gestures and recommendations emanating from the competent authorities.
With this in mind, I launched a 24-hour Twitter survey on April 1, 2020.
I invited my followers to answer the following question: “For or against the introduction of a deduction on each refill of units to finance the National Solidarity Fund to support the response against Covid19? Vote and retweet ”.
I proposed this mode of contribution considering that a third of the Congolese population has a telephone. The tweet was viewed 50,119 times with 7,878 interactions experienced by 4,421 voters, 226 retweets, 252 likes and 533 comments. The participants, in their plurality, voted and gave their opinions.
After reading and analysis, I learned three lessons mainly:
The anchoring of democracy
The Congolese have volunteered for the exercise. And they freely expressed themselves sometimes with very regular harsh expressions elsewhere on Twitter. The poll captured the magnitude of the trust gap between leaders and the people. This was explained in particular by the taking, considered to be “late”, of government decisions to combat the spread of Covid-19.
The need for everyone to contribute
Congolese believe that leaders should be the first to lead by example by sacrificing all or part of their wages and other bonuses. Especially since they are perceived by many as those by whom the pandemic arrived. Others believe that telecom companies will be the primary beneficiaries in this time of confinement, where telework is encouraged. They should therefore be among the first contributors, beyond the campaign SMS they send.
The readiness of the people to contribute
The main lesson of this survey shows that the Congolese are ready to contribute to a national solidarity effort to cope with the harmful effects of the Covid19. Each one within the limits of his means is ready to agree to concede a part of his recharge but on condition that this is managed in strict transparency.
Many wanted the management of this Fund to be entrusted to an independent personality who will be supported by an international audit firm to ensure the transparency and traceability of all donations.
In the light of this survey, I would like to propose, as one of the mechanisms for mobilizing the means of the National Solidarity Fund against Covid-19 recently created by the Head of State, a 5% deduction for any recharge not more than 10 dollars and a 10% deduction on any recharge above 10 dollars during a year. Revenues could be directed towards the motivation of staff working for the response, the acquisition of equipment and finally to support the most disadvantaged.
To this end, Telecom will play the role of money collectors beyond what these companies could make as a contribution, under the watchful eye of the Government, through the Post and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (ARPTC) ).
Break us down to rebuild us
60 years after independence, our country, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, is still failing. This crisis offers us a real opportunity to break down to rebuild ourselves. Failure to do so would condemn not only our children, who are paying the heavy price today, but also and above all our future generations. To understand it now is to act immediately.
In this period of crisis, more than in normal times, the Congolese are waiting to be led, to be oriented, to be reassured.
The chain broadcast of bad news from European and American countries, the spread of fake News through social media, has put us in unbearable anguish. It is more and more growing when we look at the attitude of certain leaders, when we imagine the fragility of our health system, the inexistence of social services and the absence of an economic mattress to cushion economic shocks. and social issues of this pandemic.
To defeat the Coronavirus, we need discipline, a lot of discipline both in making quick decisions and in actually implementing them. Political authorities should therefore not shirk their
“Sovereign obligations”. Their maintenance or consolidation in power depends intimately on their attitude during this period.
We have an obligation of transcendence over our legal-political-tribal quarrels. A duty of exemplarity through strict compliance with barrier gestures and containment measures. We must improve the way we act, the way we communicate to vigorously fight fake news and earn the trust of the people without which no political action can succeed.
At the end of this crisis which is breaking us down, the urgency will be to start the task of reconstruction. It notably involves the adoption of a good economic recovery strategy. And from it will flow a good public health and social protection policy. The closing of the borders of all the countries of the world reminds us that we must mainly rely on ourselves to build our capacity for resilience.
Finally, the duty of solidarity is imposed on both the leaders and the people. Faced with such a situation, solidarity first translates into the observation of barrier measures, by protecting themselves and others.
And if extreme confinement were taken, compassion and charity would prevail.
It is said that something bad is good.
The passage of the Covid-19 should be an opportunity for us to revive and radically change methods, both in the governance of the country and in our daily habits.
60 years after independence, so we have the opportunity to start off on the right foot after being so tired. This will not be done without collective awareness and without sacrifices.
Strongly break us to rebuild us.
Patrick Muyaya Katembwe