Katumbi, blocked from entering his country both by air and road, in his bid to beat the August 8 deadline for filing of nominations for the December 23 is holed up in the Copperbelt of Zambia.
The businessman was due to arrive in the second largest city Lubumbashi by private jet on Friday but opted to attempt entering the DRC by road through the Zambian border of Kasumbalesa where he was again blocked.
Katumbi and his entourage were met by a huge presence of army and police personnel at the border with immigration officials deserting their posts on Friday and Saturday.
Authorities had earlier on Friday denied Katumbi landing rights at Luano International Airport in Lubumbashi.
“I am not going to surrender,” he said in an interview, adding “How can you refuse a fugitive to go back in his country and to face the law?”
Katumbi says the only reason authorities have blocked his return is the fear of his popularity.
“They have seen there is no case. It’s just the interference of Mr. Kabila to make me not to run in my country,” he says.
Katumbi, met with jubilation and song at Kasumbalesa on Friday and Saturday, says his foremost mission is the stability and peace of the DRC but stopping him from contesting the polls is recipe for anarchy.
A huge army of Congolese supporters sang in praise of Katumbi as he pitched up at the border.
Most popular among the chants is a swahili rendition loosely translated, “at the sight of Moise, they begin to tremble.”
Leading a coalition of opposition parties dubbed Ensemble, Katumbi is determined to contest the polls.
“I am going to use our constitution to stand. This thing of me not standing is going to bring back again problems in the country and instability in the sub region. And instability in the whole of Africa,” he warns.
Katumbi says authorities in the DRC have advanced no reason for their decision to deny him entry.
“There is no reason, [but] I knew all the charges which they gave me in Congo. Those were bogus charges and masquerades. If you can remember, the bishops went to investigate and there was nothing.
“They’re going to give me all the bad things in this world. Anyway, the truth remains the truths. Mr. Kabila is scared about me. He knows I’ll win the election because when I was governor I had a very good record,” he says.
Katumbi has since called for regional and international support to avert a potentially catastrophic situation in the DRC.
“Congo on its own is a continent. Why we can’t follow the example of others; [the] Zambian example where everyone can participate in elections.
“Let the people of Congo choose. Mr. Kabila is not a man of peace. He is thinking maybe he is clever, [but] one day is one day. All these bad things he is doing for our country I think [time] is going to catch him,” he says.
Katumbi says now that he has been blocked, he will use legal means to find his way on the ballot .
“I am going to make sure I use my constitution. Since he is refusing for me to stand my lawyers are working on this one and I am going to use all the Heads of state.
“If they allow this man to decide the future of Congo they are totally wrong because this is going to catch the region and it’s not going to be very good.
“There are going to be people in exile; we don’t need that for Congo. We need peaceful [elections] in the SADC region and this man the only thing he knows is about instability.
“Look at Congo. It’s the only country where there is instability. 5.7 million people internally displaced which is really sad and also the neighboring countries you can check; they’re receiving up to now refugees.
“If Kabila is talking to other Heads of State saying there is stability or he wants to bring stability, it’s a fake story. Stability where every day there is killing; women are being raped and people are hungry, very poor and the life of Congo is going down because of one man,” lamented the TP Mazembe supremo.
Katumbi says he was aware time for filing nominations was running out.
Presidential candidates are left with only three days before the process closes on Wednesday, August 8, 2018.
“I have got up to Wednesday, [but] even after Wednesday I am not going to surrender. What is important for me is to make sure I will participate in these coming election; it’s going to be an inclusive election,” he confidently adds.
Katumbi warns that Kabila will extend his machinations to other presidential candidates so as to stay in power illegally.
“What he is doing to me, there is a period where there are going to check the other candidates.
“You’re going to see Kabila, he is going to remove other candidates. The strongest candidates he is going to remove them finding something against them using the law of Congo through the Constitution Court.
“They’re going to invalidate [disqualify] some candidates. So what is important, the Heads of State must know [that] we need a stable Congo where everyone is going to participate.
“They don’t have to listen to this outgoing President saying he is going to bring peace in the Congo. I think what is important for us is inclusive, peaceful election,” he says.
Katumbi also welcomed the candidature of ex warlord Jean Pierre Bemba who was recently acquitted by the International Criminal Court.
He dismissed assertions that Bemba would pose as a strong hurdle to his mission of becoming president.
Katumbi says Bemba’s candidature was good for democracy.
“Jean Pierre Bemba is not a competitor. We are both in opposition so we are one. At one time [the] opposition are going to get together to see who is who in the zoo. Who did what, who has a good record, achievement etc. If it’s Jean Pierre Bemba we will leave it to Jean Pierre Bemba, if it’s myself, he is going to leave it to me or if it’s Felix Tshisekedi or if it’s anyone else. I think what is important to us is to have the change of power; have peaceful and inclusive election,” he explains.
“Everyone must participate not where Kabila points figure at someone to say that ‘this one can’t over my dead body.’ He found Congo. I was born in Congo. I grew up in Congo so we don’t have to go and create [a] problem where there is no problem.”
Katumbi says Kabila was not after a peaceful Congo and would do anything to plunge the country into chaos.
“Kabila is not a man of peace. If he was a man of peace, Congo is supposed to be peaceful. If there was these agreement – Sun City – we thank all the southern African people because they contributed to the peace.
“Kabila didn’t find the war. The war was stopped by these talks in Sun City, by the region, by the late president [Frederick] Chiluba of Zambia, all the countries of SADC and the international community.
“This war was not won by Mr. Kabila. But what we don’t need is to go back to the war.
“We need a new Congo which is going to bring back the peace; which is going to brink back prosperity for the people of Congo,” he says.
There are fears Katumbi’s life may also be at stake if allowed back in the country.
The opposition leader; however, is not swayed declaring he is ready to die for his people.
“Even if you are killing one Katumbi, you are not killing all the 80 million Congolese people.
“Kabila has [already] killed a lot of people some in church [who] are just going to pray with the rosary going to pray and ask God, ‘please God help Congo to have peaceful election ‘.
“The witnesses are there. All the international community, even the SADC have seen this even if they didn’t say any word.
“Really what is happening to Congo is very, very sad. This man Kabila does not only have [a] problem with me so am not surprised if I get killed,” he says.
Kabila has been in power for 17 years having served a transitional 5 year period since 2001, thereafter his two term mandate and now an illegal two years in which he has delayed polls without cause.