2020, countdown

Burundi President Pierre Nkurunziza called for a voluntary contribution to finance the 2020 elections. A rather complicated bet.

President Pierre Nkurunziza launches a fund-raiser for the 2020 elections

President Pierre Nkurunziza launches a fund-raiser for the 2020 elections

The image circulates on the internet since the celebration of the 55th anniversary of the independence of Burundi. You can see Pierre Nkurunziza, immaculately dressed, with a smile. He launches a fund-raiser for the 2020 elections.

The sign he holds in his hand displays an account number at the Bank of the Republic of Burundi. The aim is to show the international community that Burundians are able to organize credible elections without begging anyone. That is at least what the Head of State said on the eve of the Independence Day. Pierre Nkurunziza warns his compatriots: Do not fall into the 2015 trap. “They promised to help us before pulling out just one week before the elections”
“It was” the European Union and the United States that decided to freeze the funds for the elections. According to them, the latter were neither credible nor free. There was no question of financing them.

How much should be paid?

We need at least $ 40 million. According to the general report on the 2015 electoral process of the Independent National Electoral Commission-CENI, it is the sum that narrowly covered the 2015 elections.

The Government had contributed more than $ 22 million. There has also been this basket fund by the technical and financial partners to the tune of $ 15 million. Finally, the Independent National Electoral Commission has received less than $ 1 million in out-of-basket fund contributions.

The government wants to find approximately $ 40 million for 2020 but there is a financing related problem. It planned some BIF 6.2 billion, about 3 million US dollars in the general budget of the state fiscal year 2017. Until 2020, the government will approximately pay this amount every year. The total amount will be about12 million USD in 2020.

Hence, the mobilization of the population launched by President Nkurunziza to ask them about 38 million dollars.


Willy NyamitweWilly Nyamitwe: “The contribution will be voluntary”

For the Senior Adviser in charge of communication to the President, calling the population to contribute 3 years before the elections is a good thing. In 2015, the EU withdrew from the basket fund a few weeks before the elections.

According to him, some people believed Burundi could not organize its elections and would thus fall into a state of constitutional vacuum. “A few weeks later, the population mobilized voluntarily and contributed to the success of the elections. Ambassador Willy Nyamitwe says Burundi must rely on itself to organize its elections independently.

Contributions will be voluntary. Burundians will gradually contribute to the organization of electoral consultations of 2020 and even those that will follow, in transparency and peace.

Charles NditijeCharles Nditije: “One more message”

According to the president of the opposition coalition Cnared, President Pierre Nkurunziza continues his forced and obstinate march towards the amendment to the Constitution. “The aim is to seek to run for endless terms and thus bury the Arusha Agreement and end the negotiations under the meditation of the EAC.” For Charles Nditije, this request for fundraising is another message to say to everyone: shout, talk, threaten, I go on with my project. But it also reflects the financial difficulties that the current government faces. It needs the cash to be able to continue to function. Normally, campaign funds are not raised three years before elections.

Pierre-Claver-Kazihise-300x235Pierre Claver Kazihise: “To become free from the West”

For this activist of the civil society, the elections are a citizens’ duty, the reason why the population is called to contribute, “which is a very good thing”. For Pierre Claver Kazihise, it will be a barometer in relation to the Burundians’ desire to become free from the West. “This will enable us to gauge the will of citizens to choose democracy and independence.”

anschaireAnschaire Nikoyagize: “Contributing to save one’s own life”

This activist of the civil society in exile says it is the dictatorship that reigns in the country. According to him, several people will contribute for fear of reprisals. President Nkurunziza’s henchmen will ensure everyone’s contribution. Afterwards, the ruling party will release the figures to legitimize the fourth term of Nkurunziza. “If I were in the country, I would contribute to save my life. Anschaire Nikoyagize said with a disenchanted laugh: “Contribute and keep safe your deposit slips, you never know…”


A kitty and the message

The poster of the mobilization of funds, alongside the photo of President Pierre Nkurunziza, is undoubtedly a marketing campaign which is about mobilizing the “Nkuruzizians”. All those who feel themselves accountable to the President will feel compelled to contribute. One could see fundraising campaigns like this one in evangelical churches that swarm our neighborhoods where a sweating pastor harangues the crowd for instance when looking for donations: “5 million, 10 million, who says better?”, on a voluntary basis, one would say. But to please the master, people might rush to the central bank-BRB.

But here, we are talking about the haves, because there are others; those who terribly suffer the crisis in the country and constitute more than 90% of the Burundian population.

One wonders how they will contribute to the elections with their meager budget, in good faith. They hardly make ends meet and already suffer more taxes.

But beyond finance, President Pierre Nkurunziza launches a strong political message: Business will continue without the West. The Constitution will be amended; the ‘inclusive’ dialogue will not take place. Bujumbura has to do otherwise without taking into account EU standards and its Cotonou agreement. As if to say to the West that froze its direct aids: “Go, we move forward … without you.”