“I am not in denial about it! Since Mobutu era, nobody has ever made me dream. How do you deal with a company sacrosanct ruling, stating that besides the natives of Bandundu and Bas-Congo Provinces, no one else shall be entitled to run ONATRA as a CEO? Are you not suppressing clever minds here?”, inquired the President of the Congolese Federation of Football Association – FECOFA, 1st Vice-President of the Confederation of African Football – CAF and Executive Member of the Council of the International Federation of Football Association – FIFA, Mr. Constant OmariSelemaani, even if he never questioned his relationships with the family of the late Marshal Mobutu.
Harbouring acolourfulabacost(tieless costume) – slim fit, made from locally producedFabrics- Maputa,Mr Constant Omaristands all well-dressed up as usual, portraying his eternal Goliath lookalike appearance which he displays so well, one of the cornerstones of Congolese sport in general, goes in full sword to convincingly respond to Q & A session which Jean Marie Kasamba takes him into during an interview broadcast on Télé 50, one of the audio-television platforms usedby the previous regime, on December 10th, 2019, in front of cameras and Congolese people as a witness, within a readily set up TV Studio,Omari continues to shine over the sporting and footballing history of his country for sixteen years. The Chairman is repeatedly incriminated by default and had become the target of plotssummed up as Coups, but heappeared much unperturbed and less fearsome, making no bones about it.
From the onset, Jean Marie Kasamba leads us into unprecedented amateurism. Lacking useful expertise over football matters, the interviewer strove to embellish his shortcomings with a half-fig, half-grape French phraseology. The ethics of amateurism is so dominant that skills, talent and knowledge are losing ground. Superficial football analyzes, eccentric conclusions, corroborated by a pitiful video retracing the career of the interviewee are obvious evidence thereof. I was left speechless when the voiceover artist called CAF-, the Conference of African Football. Blasphemous approach! Whereas knowledge basic rules require due diligence on the subjectto grasp appropriate terminology, come out with great stories andrelevant content in order to properly conduct the interview with the assistance of the Channel Editor. None of this could be taken into accounts throughout.
The history of football in the DRC, even more than other sports, has long been an ostracism fairytale, stemming from an indisputable disdain, underlying causes which can easily be guessed. By becoming one of the cogs in social life, football in the Congo is gradually imbued with the standards and norms governing contemporary Congolese society at the same time as it expresses. It is therefore likely to air meaningful footage and self-explanatory images. How could not Jean Marie Kasamba – JMK attention be awakened? But he tried as hard as he knows how to give scientific legitimacy to his interview, when he should have gone beyond his journalistic approach as owing football knowledge monopoly with anecdotal and picturesque stories of bad taste during the tête-à-tête. Télé 50 could have availed itself of another expertise than the incandescent comedy demonstrated by the Station Boss in front of a seasoned football administrator who mastered the debate all along, because Omari is very comfortable in this exercise. It is in the DRC where I nonchalantly notice that a journalist has the necessary expertise in all areas of society asshamelessly defy accusations asboastfully yes. JMK paid the price in front of Constant,stating his case so strongly each time he was given opportunity.
Immediately the Boss of Congolese football brushes aside allegations that he has a role model who inspires his positioning and influences his life; affirming that each one has his own perfection model, specific to him. With a certain arrogance which corresponds to his stature fittingly, the man claims to have brain cells much more affluent which allow him to be one step ahead on the psychic and psychological level for an enlightened thought. He owes his lucidity and clairvoyance to his longevity, more than a decade, at the helm of the national football body. Betrayed and bruised, Constant Omarileaves the choice for pundits to make up their mind and justify his innocence. It is clear that FECOFA Statutes have never been amended or modified whatsoever since taking office in 2004, holding Slim Aloulou, former President of the Tunisian Football Federation and formerly an executive member of FIFA, liable to having approved them under FIFA guidance.
At the same time, I watch ConstantOmariquoting verbatim various responses during our meeting in Kinshasa, in his opulent residence of Gombeon October 6th, 2019, my first ever meeting with him. I admit to having been convinced by a fringe of inveterate potential usurpers who, in the past, tried empty-handedly to expose through my journalistic skills, the embezzlement possibly committed by the native of Bukavu, who would settle ad vitam at aeternam at the helm of FECOFA, without sharing power. This face to face with him opened my eyes to his steadfast ambitions and achievements, which were so little, insufficient for the time being, given the elephantine size of this country (-continent). On the set of Télé 50, his imperturbability suffered from no collision, as he was in control, giving JMK a hard time in trying to exhaust and suffocate Constant with unmatched tough questioning without succeeding. Constant is blessed with a rich vocabulary and public speaking astuteness to finish off any one who dares to confront him professionally.
Testimonies brought to the public by Constant Omari also elucidated national and international opinion, in particular the construction of the new FECOFA Headquarters, ongoing negotiations with the neighbourfacing Boulevard du 30 Juin whom FECOFA Office shares the common wall with, just behind the current headquarters, the decisions by the General Assembly of FECOFA to host its meetings in a rotating manner in all the provinces of the Republic, the construction of a new stadium in accordance with international standards, the construction of Offices for Provincial Football Bodies (except Lubumbashi -preferring the erection of a new building – a very expensive work), unfinished works at the Stade des Martyres which sits without a VIP Lounge, the improvement of the playgrounds on GD, Asosa, Ekankar, and Ebondo (in Ngiri-Ngiri) municipal youth centres (with the assistance of FIFA), the replacement of synthetic turf both at Stade Tata Raphaël as well asStade des Martyres (being in state of accelerated aging). So many achievements and projects that are close to his heart, for which he wishes to complete before retiring in case the General Assembly gives him more office terms during the next electoral contests. He nevertheless takes a refractory look at the role of the Government in the State hierarchy of Sport among its priority objectives, including the non-professionalization of football which remains this child eternally hung on to the bottle of Mother Republic for its survival. However, the results recorded so far, under Constant tenure have not been disputed. They are as Giants as him (two CHANs 2009 & 2016, Bronze Medalist at CAN 2015 as well as the participation of Congolese clubs in the group stages of interclub competition).
During this interview, 1st Vice-President of CAF will eventually lash a bombshell when he affirms before the nation fearlessly, the pathetic expropriation of the lands belonging to FECOFA. With an original area of 360 ha, the plot of land in the suburbs of N’Sele was intended to serve as a place to build sports infrastructure – two football fields: one for female, and the other for male, not to mention a swimming pool complying with Olympic set standards. But the announcement of a superficial conspiracy orchestrated by the Chief of Staff in the Presidency wowed thousands of viewers. Faced with such an ubiquitous perfidy of a bourgeoisie that steals away the happiness of its youth, these regrettable deviations by crooked politicians are so heartbreaking that they dishonour Congolese thought, responding to criticisms, sometimes nuance less and whose primacy is no more than praising their own ego. They obstruct the path of hope for youth, which is nevertheless a necessity.
The “untouchables” continue to impoverish the DRC and its children, and push them to immigrate in the aftermath of an uncertain future, without anyone preoccupied in denouncing these thugs’ misdemeanours. In a country that abides by legal instruments, such nonsense is the residue of human thought that meets the full might of the law. The FIFA Council member’s claims back up his statement that the deed titles registrar participated in the expropriation activity by delivering the Titles to new Chinese owners, in broad daylight disrespect of President Kabila’s orders to leave the land in the name FECOFA untouched. Omari’sperplexity when facingby-passwas a blow which prompted him to contact relevant authorities, resulting inthe saga of dismissal and appointment of Ministers of Land Affairs. Constant Omari makes the recovery of the land his mission to prevent Congolese youth from taking the path of exile and face the Mediterranean Sea in fury.
Accordingly, only 214 ha will be returned to FECOFA in fine, with no retroactive effects. Such practices fuel the inaccessibility of the youth’s global sports platforms in the DRC. The other salient point raised by the boss of football in the DRC concerns the organization of Clubs. TP Mazembe stands out thanks to the know-how of its Chairman, MoiseKatumbi whose agreed investment translates into team respectability. Recently, FIFA President Gianni Infantinohas realized that the Chairman would like to build a stadium with a capacity of 50,000 seats, meeting international standards. FIFA has readied to grant him the loan with an interest rate capped at 2%. This therefore justifies why TP Mazembe, which is one of the top three (3) clubs on the continent.
I shift the blame on Mr President of FECOFA, for keeping all the unpacked truths unpublished. It is time for him to adopt a strategic mindset in solving the problems that prompted him to spew off abovestated facts, by choosing a team of communication experts who will keep the DRC and the world fully informed. This is how he will succeed, so quickly, in restoring his reputation and status as a respectful manager and a seasoned administrator. In any case, the political edge is immediately boosted mathematically. There are some whom, inenjoying this exercise, foresee a reconciling and magnanimous signal. Congolese, African and acrobatic critics and fanatics will not also forget the fact that he vanquished disinformation up a notch. Often, I am noting thatMrOmari failedto strike while that the iron was still hot.
So between those contemplating the capsizing of the development boat to bail out that of failure, it is acoward love, sprinkled with a good dose of absurd misunderstandings, as if unconsciousnessis not tailored around desired happenstance in reality but from impulses that are sometimes incongruously irrational. Ultimately imbroglio cuckolds are those wishing to let detractors and raptors have their say, thinking they are the ones who would have been the most empowered to make a decision to detriment of the people, and property expropriation for sporting youth with no regret in respect of their well-being.
Jeff M Katala
Johannesburg – South Africa
December 13, 2019