Friday, November 25, 2011

Boda boda man eyes seat in DRC poll

KISANGANI, Friday

For 20 years, Mr Alphonse Awenze Makiaba has been a courier ferrying anything from farm produce to passengers on his bicycle, commonly known as toleka in the DR Congo.

But the penniless tolekist or boda boda rider is the centre of attention among the candidates running for seats in the national parliament.

At the official launch of the election campaigns last month, Mr Makiaba hit the road in a unique way.

Unlike his competitors who put up flashy posters and mounted loudspeakers on cars to solicit votes, he reported to work on his rickety bicycle.

He made sure everyone he met accepted to support him.

Within a short time, news of his candidacy had spread like a bushfire in Kisangani.

At the central market in downtown Kisangani, women, men and youth support this man, who earns at most $2 (Sh186) a day.

“We have known him for years, he is one of us and I think he understands the pain of being a poor man in Congo and has our interests at heart,” said Mr Alphonse Bahia, a supporter .

With this kind of support, 47-year-old Makiaba is convinced he will be the next MP for Kisangani commune (constituency).

Meanwhile, as campaigns for the DRC’s elections enter the home stretch, voters in the capital voiced pessimism yesterday on whether the polls can bring change to their war-torn, impoverished country.

President Joseph Kabila’s decade in power has not inspired much hope in many residents of Kinshasa, capital of a country driven by back-to-back wars from 1996 to 2003 and stuck near the bottom of the list of the world’s least developed nations despite a wealth of resources.

“I’m a thief! I’m 20 years old, I don’t go to school,” Ouzounza, a local resident, told AFP. He said he is not proud of what he does but has no other options. (AFP, BBC)

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