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New governors for the Kivus?

South Kivu will soon have a new governor. On May 12th, the application process was concluded. The main contenders are Marcellin Cisambo, who was nominated by Kabila’s AMP coalition, and Francois Rubota Masumbuko a provincial MP from the PCBG party.

A lot of people in Bukavu aren’t very happy with Cisambo’s nomination. Many say they don’t want Kinshasa to impose yet another governor on South Kivu who will work for the AMP’s and Kabila’s interest and not for the province. Cisambo, like the previous governor Leonce Muderwa, is known to be a smooth operator and somewhat arrogant.

Cisambo lived in Belgium for 20 years and returned several years ago to become Joseph Kabila’s political adviser. He began one of the most influential members of the Rais’ entourage until he was shuffled out last year.

South Kivu is getting a reputation for being ungovernable – Cisambo would be the third governor in as many years. There have been 7 (I think) governors since the transitional government began in 2003. So an average of one a year. Some of the problems: a strong and raucous civil society, a weak party system with little internal coherence, and a few local resources, as most revenues are sent to Kinshasa.

North Kivu is also looking shaky, as Governor Julien Paluku might finally be kicked out of office. Several reports have now been issued by parliamentary commissions on the corruption within his provincial government, but until now he has survived with the backing of Kinshasa. The Goma court of appeal had thrown out legislature’s corruption report on procedural grounds. However, it looks like Paluku’s fortunes might be changing. There are rumors that Kabila is increasingly unhappy with him. Now, the Supreme Court in Kinshasa issued a verdict on May 12th saying that the parliamentary case against him can be heard.

In any case, the stakes are high. Kabila want to put on a happy face for the 50th anniversary of Congolese independence celebrations on June 30th.

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