Positions are being taken against a contentious bill on “congolity” in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, starting with the first concerned parties and going all the way up to the Catholic bishops, passing through political parties and organizations of civil society. People often call this proposed law the “Tshiani law” after its main supporter, Noel Tshiani, who ran for president in the 2018 election.
The bill was brought to the National Assembly in July 2021, but its opponents quickly voted against it because they thought it was “dangerous.” The public didn’t hear about it again until March, when it was announced that it would be on the agenda for the current parliamentary session. The members of the Association of Mestizos in the Congo (Asmeco) felt that they were being directly targeted by this bill. On Friday, they staged a demonstration in front of the Parliament building and submitted a memorandum in which they voiced their opposition to what they called a “discriminatory law.”
According to the draft of the proposed law, which was reviewed by AFP, it states that the law “on Congoleseness is unfair, ambiguous,” and that its intent is to “harm a category of Congolese.” Asmeco strongly urges elected officials to “reject” it so that the Congolese people can “keep peace, harmony, tranquility, and cohesion among themselves.” This association was established in 2007, and its president, Ferdinand Lokunda, indicated that its members include Congolese people who were born to Congolese parents and parents from other continents (African, Asian, European, etc.).
A “dangerous law” that “threatens social peace” was also condemned by the highly influential Episcopal Conference, which did so through the medium of its secretary general, Father Donatien Nshole. Across the country, political parties and groups that represent civil society have set up protests against this law in a number of different places.
If this legislation were to be passed, for instance, the businessman Moe Katumbi, who has already declared that he will run in the presidential elections that will take place in December, would be disqualified from the competition due to the fact that his father is Italian.
In an interview conducted on Monday by AFP, Mike Mukebay, a provincial deputy of Kinshasa and the communicator for Mr. Katumbi’s party, expressed his belief that this measure is “in reality a trap” for the power “to proceed to a constitutional revision with vague outlines. “With it, “we are forbidden to marry nationals of other nationalities; they want to pass on the idea that the children of mixed marriages have blood that has been denatured. “This cannot be tolerated in any way,” he added.
In recent decades of the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s history, Congolese people whose parents were not originally from the country have held a variety of positions of responsibility and even campaigned for president.