DRC Elections: Citizens Grapple with Monetization of Voter ID Duplicates

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As the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) prepares for general elections just a week away, ongoing preparations include the distribution of duplicates of voter ID cards. Many cards initially distributed earlier in the year were of poor quality, leading to significant wear and tear. The demand for replacement copies is high, and the production of these documents is not keeping pace. Consequently, instances of monetizing the issuance of duplicates are not uncommon.

Outside the center of the Independent National Electoral Commission (CENI) in the Karisimbi district of Goma, the distribution of voter ID duplicates is underway. Dozens of individuals leave with their essential documents, while many others patiently wait around the building. However, some citizens express disappointment, having submitted requests for duplicates weeks ago with no resolution in sight.

One frustrated voter shares his experience, “I submitted the request for a duplicate on the 25th, and up to today, there is still no solution. Some people suggest paying money because a friend told me to take shortcuts instead of waiting for the card that may never come. He paid five dollars yesterday and received his card today.”

Such allegations are dismissed as “rumors” by the Goma CENI. Maître Jacques Kambale Ngayiremawa, the second deputy secretary in charge of legal matters, challenges these claims: “In Karisimbi, we only have three agents, so it’s easy to identify: provide names or describe the person. What do you want? You make accusations but stop halfway. Provide evidence. It’s quite serious, isn’t it?”

Stewart Muhindo, a Lucha civil society organization activist, denounces what he sees as a lack of transparency on the part of the CENI: “We organized a demonstration in June and were arrested by the police on our way to the CENI because we were denouncing the monetization of duplicate issuance. The CENI, at the national level, itself acknowledged that unscrupulous agents continue to demand money for duplicates.”

Next Wednesday, nearly 44 million voters are expected to cast their ballots.

Soukaina Sghir

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