Medard Mulangala, the leader of the parliamentary opposition in the Democratic Republic of Congo, has called for an overhaul of what he called a "bad" investment environment, as he prepares to lead a fragmented opposition into elections. "The current investment climate is bad. There are too many red tapes in business, little respect for contractual rules, and latent systemic corruption,” he told fDi Magazine in a meeting in London on September 30. 

Although the Africa Economic Outlook reports that GDP grew from 6.1% in 2010 to 6.7% in 2011, largely due to developments in the mining sector, DRC ranks 175 in the World Bank’s Doing Business report and three out of five people live on less than $1.25 a day. 


Mr Mulangala said: “Future development must build structures that facilitate foreign investors as the capacity of our administration is ill-equipped. We must simplify administrative processes, and we should reform the judicial system to protect investors effectively.” The political landscape is uncertain as the opposition remains deeply fractured. Mr Mulangala has emerged as a mediator and a political force to be reckoned with. Yet promoting a single candidate to oppose the incumbent president Joseph Kabila will be a challenge. 

He told fDi Magazine: “While it will be difficult to find a unity leader, we have agreed we should, and Etienne Tshisekedi, out of the top contenders, has a strong profile.” Appearing as the opposition’s presumed frontrunner, Mr Tshisekedi has called on candidates to unite behind him. Facing a divided opposition with limited resources, President Kabila is a formidable opponent with deep pockets, the state media and the state security at his service. However, Mr Mulangala is optimistic, saying: "The time has come for change." 

Following clashes in September between protesting opposition groups and the police leaving one person dead and scores more injured, "siasa" is the hot topic as this large Central African country prepares for elections on November 28 : the Swahili word for politics, it has become synonymous with politically motivated disputes in everyday parlance among Swahili-speakers in the DRC. 

Elections are not a panacea for the DRC, and “siasa” remains afflicted with decayed infrastructure, a collapsed formal economy and weak state institutions. The opposition will need to display a unified front and show that politics this time round will be dominated by institutions, not politically motivated men.