-Says he will work for his father’s re-election
-Defends actions of his Foundation Perspective D’Avenir
By Elie Smith
The publication of a book,a seat in Parliament , and the growing tentacles of his foundation across Congo have fueled speculation that Denis Christel Sassou Nguesso is nursing plans to succeed his father as President when elections come up in 2021. In the interview that follows, with Denis Christel Sassou Nguesso, MP, says unequivocally that, he has no plans to succeed his father but instead working for his re-election in 2021.
Elie SMITH: Since the publication of your book, there are rumors circulating in the Congo and beyond that, your book is actually your political manifesto for the 2021 presidential race. Can you confirm or deny here your 2021 presidential ambitions?
Denis Christel Sassou Nguesso: No, I am not a candidate in the presidential election of 2021. I wish the President of the Republic, Denis Sassou Nguesso, should and I have been working with others for a few months now, to actualise our goal of helping him to be reelected. To say that my book: “What I believe” is a political manifesto is wrong. Readers will find in it that, there are no promises, no electoral statement, but a vision of what Congo could be in areas where, the Fondation Perspective D’Avenir that I created can boast of a solid record with less favored citizens of our country.
Elie SMITH: What do you do make of accusations from some Congolese, who think that your father is encouraging you to run for the 2021 presidential election, even though you have refuted the claims, simply because he wants political power to stay within the Nguesso family?
Denis Christel Sassou Nguesso: These are allegations from Congolese who don’t know who the President of the Republic truly is. These repeated rumours; most often offends him because they are untrue. He has a different idea of his function. The facts still contradict the rumor. If he had encouraged me to run for the 2021 presidential election as the rumour mill claims, why then have I taken this solemn commitment that, I won’t run for the 2021 presidential election, but support him?
Elie SMITH: You are a member of parliament for Oyo, why carry out humanitarian actions in other places like Kouilou or Niari, which are way out of your constituency? Don’t you think that, it will be difficult to convince people that all you are doing is not because you want to run in the 2021 presidential election?
Denis Christel Sassou Nguesso: This last question is like an obsession. I answered it. For the rest, I did not create this fondation, Fondation Perspective D’Avenir, in order to make a career, but because my natural empathy has always led me to turn toward others. I enjoy helping or coming to the aid of the less privileged. When I was elected MP in 2012, the after, that is 2013 I did something similar, so there is no link between my mandate and these humanitarian actions, which could or is being be interpreted as laying the ground work for my presidential ambitions. Granted that, I am a member of Oyo, but I am an elected representative of the nation, therefore, of all Congo. My actions are the constitutional rights of a member of parliament, which is a national representation and not sectional. Let me use this opportunity to recall what our actions and our record are, we have carried out: large-scale vaccinations, community health campaigns, qualified professional training projects and offered scholarships to young people and those from less privileged backgrounds. I have always had as guideline that, the Foundation will intervene wherever there are needs and these simply means all over the national territory. In doing so, I or May I say, we are refusing acts of ethnocentrism or regionalism. Why will I focus everything in Oyo under the guise that I am an MP for Oyo, whereas I could help nationally? Is it bad what Fondation Perspective D’Avenir is doing nationally? Please I will glad to know.
Elie SMITH: Thanks to your foundation, you have awarded scholarships, paid hospital bills and carried out many other generous actions in the country. Where did you get the money when the country cannot pay medical staff or pensions?
Denis Christel Sassou Nguesso: I thank you for qualifying the Foundation’s actions as generous. But I must restore a number of truths. We are autonomous, independent of the State, even if we act complimentarily. It is wrong to say, for example, as you have just done, that we pay hospital bills. We have a mobile hospital, with all the latest technologies. These equipments are gift from our partners in Brazil and Morocco. When we vaccinated 130,000 girls against cervical cancer, the vaccines were offered to us by partners. As President of this foundation, I am constantly looking for sponsors and new partners.
Elie SMITH: As a Congolese, what is your view on the country’s economic situation?
Denis Christel Sassou Nguesso: We are having difficulty diversifying our economy and we are too dependent on the oil and oil revenues. I am also aware that, we can’t overnight change an economy that has relied for decades on Oil. But also I think humbly that, we did not go far enough in what we undertook to develop an alternative economy in order to get out of the oil business. Diversification paths are possible. I mention them in my book. The government is committed to the development of certain sectors such as: transformation agriculture, forestry, livestock breeding, developing tourism or creating industrial zones, all of which contribute to job creation. It is necessary for the government to be resolute in its plans to diversify the economy, without which we won’t be able fight unemployment and maintained sustained economic growth. My role as MP, like that of the majority that supports the President of the Republic is precisely to help improve the situation even if much has been done under his leadership. It is also to provide solutions to help solve the problems facing Congolese, correct what does not give us complete satisfaction, because do not forget, this is the work of a politician and nothing else.
Elie SMITH: You left the SNPC, was it because of the pressure of the IMF, as some Congolese claim or as a result of a family quarrel?
Denis Christel Sassou Nguesso: When our leaders negotiate with the IMF, I can assure you that the issues and questions are not at the level of the people. So there was no pressure for my appointment in 2011 and parallelism of forms making, there was none so, when I left. I move to another professional opportunity. It is as simple as that. As for the other questions, they do not even deserve me to answer them.
Elie SMITH: What doing you make of the recent accusations by Pascal Tsaty Mabiala in parliament, where he claimed Prime Minister Clément Mouamba is afraid of leading a global fight against corruption? And also that, your name protect you from investigations? Denis Christel Sassou Nguesso: Mr. Tsaty Mabiala is forgetting even the internal rules in parliament, he must in my opinion have a selective indignation or a variable geometry, which in Congo is often, dictated either by “belly politics” or when we are remote controlled by a major player of the presidential majority who wants to mess someone up. But let me reassure Tsaty Mabiala that I am doing very well, and that, the actions that, I am taking with my international partners with my foundation in favor of our fellow citizens from difficult backgrounds will continue because what we are doing is just right.
Elie SMITH: What do you make of accusations by a former trader with the Swiss based company that, between 2010 and 2011 you were paid through a certain Maxime Gandzion the sum of $ 15million for the sale of 13 million tons of crude oil?
Denis Christel Sassou Nguesso: It is an affabulation. I don’t know why my name or that of my family must always appears in such cases. The SNPC has specific and responsible managers handling dealings with external companies or traders. And on the specific case of Gunvor, I think Thierry Mongalla has already responded to it in the newspaper La Tribune D’afrique and I support his declaration and may I repeat what he said: “there was no case of corruption at the SNPC in connection with that company. If anyone has proves, let the person produce them”.
Elie SMITH: Thank you very much
Denis Christel Sassou Nguesso: It is my pleasure