Monday, March 21, 2016

Sylvestre Ossiala MP: Profile of a brilliant open minded politician

Sylvestre Ossiala MP: he is a Member of Parliament for the Talangai 3 electoral district, for the ruling PCT party. Talangai is a neighborhood located in the north of Brazzaville. Mr Ossiala is a brilliant open minded person, who claims that, he wants to modernize the country. But how does he want to modernize the Congo? That is where the problem the problem begins, for how can an MP belonging to a party that has ruin a country and destroy a generation pretend under the same banner to change a country that, his party has helped destroy? Perhaps the answer is found in this book in titled in French: «L’action économique de Denis Sassou Nguesso: force et faiblesse» or in English: The economic achievement of Denis Sassou Nguesso: its advantages and weaknesses.   However, his only problem with his modernization drive is that, he wants to perpetuate the reign of the ruling PCT party and also of President Denis Sassou Nguesso and his clan. He belongs nonetheless to a group of young intellectuals within the ruling party, whose ambition is to steer the party away from its old fashion of doing politics and governing. 

Contrary to most of his colleague, he is not a great fan of China. He is pro-western and admires liberal democracies such as those of the United States, UK and Australia. This simply means that, Sylvestre Ossiala and his friends who are in their early 50s might be the reformers within ruling party, who might become the fulcrum of change when the appropriate template is found. He is an economist by profession and one of his strong points or qualities are that, he is not afraid to express his opinions on the limitations and failure of the regime. Perhaps it explains the reason why he wrote the book mentioned above, which examines the economic actions of Denis Sassou Nguesso.  His detractors however claims that, his critical words toward the government and the ruling party that he is still a member are well planned strategies, meant to seduce and mollify, people who are not supporting the regime.

Those same detractors adds that, if he is not in accord with the regime, let him  show it by resigning  to join the opposition, for no matter hard are his criticisms of the regime, his is remains one of the strong supporters of the ruling party and of President Denis Sassou Nguesso. Regarding those accusations, Ossiala’s response is that, the fact that, he has the liberty to express his views is a sign that, there is democracy within the ruling party. I met him on the 10th of July 2014 in his large and beautiful residence, located at the Mpila neighborhood of Ouenze, north east of Brazzaville. He was the one who called or invited me, but, his invitation was through Joachim Mbanza. Mr Mbanza is the publisher of La Semaine Africaine, the oldest newspaper in Congo and also one of the oldest newspapers within the central African sub region. It is owned by the Roman Catholic Church. Mr Mbanza is also one of the finest journalists in Congo. Ossiala’s desire to see me was simple. He wanted me to interview Mr Bonaventure Mbaya. And when we met, he did not go about browbeating, he told me straight forward on that day or should I say, that night this following: I want the constitution to be changed, in order to create the posts of Vice president and Prime minister. 

The strange thing in his statement was that, it was the same ideology shared by Bonaventure Mbaya. However, Mr Mbaya made his point known to me and Congolese on the day that he was the guest of my TV programme: La Grande Interview. Toward the ambition of changing the constitution of Congo, Ossiala, was working in tandem with Bonaventure Mbaya. The irony was that, Bonaventure Mbaya was officially, member of the opposition. Sylvestre Ossiala’s plan or marketing strategy prior to the officialisation of constitutional change, which came into actualization, one year after, was to tell people, all what they knew and hated from the regime. Most Congolese knew that, the current regime is not only tribal but it is glued in unspeakable nepotism. Hence, they wanted it to go or leave. It was an extraordinary attractive marketing point, but having said that, he does not want the regime to be change or be replaced. But what he suggested or was marketing was a change of the constitution for a new one that would permit all parts of the country to feel or be part and parcel in the running of the country or have a share in the national cake. Unfortunately for him, his strategy was synonymous to pouring an old wine in a new bottle.  And Congolese were tired of Denis Sassou Nguesso and were just waiting to show him the door.

In his circumstantial populist speech to convince me, he told me that, the Mbouchis, which is the name of the ethnic group of the president, have taken over everything in the country and also that, his fight was not to be considered just as an isolated Congolese case.  He added that, his fight was that of Africa and Africans. He wanted governments to be more inclusive in their governmental policies. That is the inclusion of social measures that, might contribute in lifting a majority out of poverty, like what Lulu did in Brazil.  While he spoke well and could convince a naïve person, I noticed that day that, there was something that was missing. What he forgot was that, the most representative or inclusive governments are only those that are elected in free and faire elections. Thus accountable to the people, hence they can act as Lulu did in Brazil, but in Congo where elections are not free and faire, elected officials don’t care. Mr. Ossiala, who is Member of Parliament since 2002, was first an MP for the opposition RDR. Like most, he carpet crossed and joined the ruling PCT party.  

He doesn’t explained the reason why he carpet crossed and on that, I didn’t ask him, the reason why he left his former party for the ruling PCT.  Sylvestre Ossiala is married to two wives and has several children. He is currently the chair of the Economy and finance Commission at the national assembly. He is also a lecturer at the University of Marien Ngouabi in Brazzaville. Although he is bright, rich and sometimes courageous in his declarations, he does not have the courage to jump out of the ship of the ruling party that has helped him to become what he is today. That is the paradox that I have observed with many political elite in Congo. They hate what is going on within the system, but they don’t have the courage to say it openly. Whatever the case, he would still have a role to play in current and future regimes in the country unlike Pierre Ngolo.

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