Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Mathias Dzon: Profile of Denis Sassou Nguesso's principal challenger

Mathias Dzon: he is the national chair of a political party called l’Union Patriotique pour le Renouveau National, or the National Patriotic Renewal Union abbreviated in French as UPRN, which is the main extra parliamentary opposition in Congo. He is also the leader of the extra parliamentary opposition and heads a coalition of opposition political parties. Mathias Dzon according to Jean Baptise Ondaye, secretary general at the Presidency of the republic, is one of Congo’s best civil servant and technocrat.  Mathias Dzon was formerly the finance minister of Denis Sassou Nguesso. Professionally, he was also the General manger of a Congolese bank called Banque International pour le Developpement du Congo or Congo International Development Bank. The first time that I met him was in 2009. It was in his posh home located on the outskirts of Paris, precisely 13km from the centre of Paris. The locality is called Enghien-les-bains. It was some months before the presidential elections of that same year of 2009, which he emerged second and Denis Sassou Nguesso was declared the winner. Since then, I have met with him a number of times and I got the impression that, he is the best prepared in the opposition to lead Congo, one day. Especially if the elections will be or are free and fair. And according to Jean Michel Odzocki, who is spokesman of the ruling PCT party, with whom they were in Paris, preparing for the return of Denis Sassou Nguesso in power in 1997, he says: Mathias Dzon has always dreamt of succeeding Denis Sassou Nguesso or of becoming President of Congo, one day.

In order to corroborate his claims about Mathias Dzon and his long nursed presidential ambitions, Jean Michel Odzocki recounted me an anecdote that took place in Paris, precisely at the Boulevard Magenta, where the headquarters of Denis Sassou Nguesso, was located.  He said: In the building or on floor that, we were occupying, there was a  seat reserve exclusively for President Denis Sassou Nguesso and no one ever dare to sit on. But one day, Mathias Dzon went and sat on that seat reserved for Denis Sassou Nguesso and said: what are all these ceremonies, traditional rites all about? Does it mean that, Denis Sassou Nguesso is the only one who deserves to sit on a special chair or is he the only one fit to be become president and also to govern Congo? We all have the right to have the ambition to govern Congo one day. And Jean Michel Odzocki told me that, Mathias Dzon concluded his defiance of Denis Sassou Nguesso in absentia by saying: one day, I will lead Congo. Then, I asked, Jean Michel Odzocki: do you think Mathias Dzon can govern Congo one day? Evidently, he replied: No! Then, he smiled and asked me: why do ask such a question, when Denis Sassou Nguesso is still president and strong enough? I replied: I share Mathias Dzon’s view that, everyone must be ambitious in life. One good honest observation from Jean Michel Odzocki was the following: Mathias Dzon certainly has the mastery of the Congolese administration and he added: he also knows Denis Sassou Nguesso very well.

Mathias Dzon is truly a statesman for in spite his current travails with his erstwhile friend and boss, he avoids exposing or divulging state secrets that he knows or deals that he stroke with President Denis Sassou Nguesso. Were he immature or like other disgruntled politicians or individuals, he would have decided to spill the bin. And contrary to what many people, especially Congolese may be thinking, Mathias Dzon is willing to meet or speak with President Denis Sassou Nguesso or even join his government. But one condition, that the state should be run like a state and not like a family affair or chiefdom. For what he fears the most is the repeat of the 1997,98 and 99 civil wars that, they orchestrated to drive away Congo’s only post independent democratically elected president and later on all those resisting their rule.. He is equally determined to see that President Denis Sassou Nguesso doesn’t stand for a third mandate, which is against the provisions of the constitution. How will he proceed, it is something I don’t know, because he has never told me and I think it is his secret. For all the qualities that, I think that Mathias Dzon has, there is one thing that he is lacking. It is courage. He might be sharp tongued, but he is not ready to face the steam. In short, he is not courageous or at least, the way I look at things. He is also not a rabble rousing politician. However, he has a very sharp tongue as already mentioned. During private conversations with him and also during interviews, especially when it has something to do with the president of the Republic and his entourage, he knows how to say things that drive his adversaries mad. He also gives or makes keen observers to have the impression that, he is self-sufficient, an impression that he exudes and which tilts toward arrogance.

Mathias Dzon is arrogant and sometimes tempestuous. On the 10th of January 2014, Mathias Dzon told me that, Congolese would not accept a third term for President Denis Sassou Nguesso and I also noticed on that day that, he was really determined in the way and manner that he spoke. And that was about the third time that he was telling me the same thing. On those three occasions, I asked him what they will do to prevent Denis Sassou Nguesso from taking a third run at the presidency of the Republic. He refused again to expose his or their strategy. Even though Mathias Dzon, in my opinion is not a courageous politician or the kind who will go down the street to organize demonstrations or protest marches. But to President Denis Sassou Nguesso, Mathias Dzon seems to be the most dreaded of all those who are his adversary.  President Denis Sassou Nguesso might not want Congolese or even other people who visits him to know, that he is afraid of Mathias Dzon. I still don’t understand the reason why. Perhaps, it is because, Mathias Dzon may know most of his strategic secrets, in particular, financial, hence the fear.  There is an interview that I recorded with Mathias Dzon on the 29th of July 2011. When that interview was broadcast on MNTV at 9:45 pm, I can recall that, it was on that day or should I say on that night, that I knew that, Mathias Dzon was the real challenger of President Denis Sassou Nguesso.

For the reaction from the presidency of the Republic was brutal. It was as though I had committed the worse sin on earth or in Congo and I was almost expelled from the country. That was my first threat of expulsion. And again, during the 2012 legislative elections, Mathias Dzon won in the Gamboma 1 electoral district or constituency against Hughes Ngouelondele, the lord mayor of the Brazzaville Greater City Council and son-in-law of the President of the Republic. But his electoral victory was overturn from the instruction of the president of the Republic who had vowed not to see Mathias Dzon at the national assembly as an MP. This is another prove that, Mathias Dzon is really a threat to Denis Sassou Nguesso. If not, why refuse or bar him from going to parliament? Whatever the case, Mathias Dzon has proven that, even within the region of the president, someone could rise and resist or challenge Denis Sassou Nguesso. And it is a thing that, the President cannot stand. President Denis Sassou Nguesso, contrary to appearances, he is highly tribal and regional based. He thinks in a very tribal term and not in a national way or manner.

For President Denis Sassou Nguesso can stand or accept opposition from someone from the south, but, he can’t stand any opposition from anybody from the north. He wants all northerners to always be united behind him against the south. For the foundation of his power is based on the cleavage between the north and the south that, he has created and fans the embers in a subtle manner. His fear is unity of Congolese. Because, the day that, Congolese even those working with him will be united, it will mark the beginning of his rule. Whatever things that some detractors of Mathias Dzon and also sometimes his admirers may say or write the reality is that, he is the only one besides Clement Mierassa, amongst most of those pretending to govern Congo, who is best prepared. He has the intellectual capacity and the national and international connections needed for the post of President of the Republic. He is the Alassane Dramane Ouattara of Congolese politics, but without the armed rebellion or the desire to sponsor or create one. His only weaknesses are that, he is sometimes too suspicious, tempestuous and arrogant. Just like most African elite of his age, he enjoys to consult witch doctors. But his greatest weakness in my opinion is that, he doesn’t have the courage to go down the street to organize protest marches against the President. Whereas, that is what president Denis Sassou Nguesso hates and also fears the most.

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