Get Red Pepper's email newsletter. Enter your email address to receive our latest articles, updates and news.
When did you first become politically engaged?
My work with Abako began in 1993. My father had told me about political issues, particularly about the Bakongo people, and I was always very interested. After joining the party I was nominated youth president for my borough, and I taught youngsters about Abako’s politics and campaigning.
What were conditions like for political activity at that time?
Mobutu was in power. He was a dictator and we struggled against his government.
In 1995 the government sent the military to a Bakongo meeting I attended. They killed many people, and the security services were searching for the participants. So my wife and I left the capital, Kinshasa, for my province, Bakongo.
I stayed there until 1997. When Mobutu fled the country I returned to Kinshasa to see the political situation. Laurent Kabila took power and banned political parties. When he died in 2001, his son replaced him. This was bad for political men like me because the country was now governed as a monarchy.
How did you react to this?
I again campaigned against the government, speaking to young people and giving them courage, but our meetings were infiltrated. On 31 December 2001 I was abducted by the military.
After three days in a subterranean prison – where many people had been for years – they put me in a cell, and I was interrogated, beaten and tortured.
How did you get from there to the UK?
Surprisingly, one day soldiers took me away to the house of the officer who had interrogated me. They spoke in my dialect, and said they had spoken with my father and wanted to help. The officer took me to a businessman, who took me to Angola in June 2002. I was given a French passport, and we travelled to London.
What happened when you arrived?
I didn’t know where I was supposed to be going. I passed immigration and the businessman gave me clothes and money.
I went to the immigration centre in Croydon, and sought asylum. After one week in London they sent me to Stoke-on-Trent.
What has been your experience of the asylum process?
My asylum claim was rejected. They said I lacked information about my party, and didn’t believe my escape from prison. It was difficult giving evidence because I was traumatised, and my eyes were damaged from torture. I then had no living support, and had to stay with friends.
My new solicitor in 2003 was also very bad. She said she’d make a new claim, but didn’t use the new evidence I gave her. In 2005 I met a French solicitor at a Congolese meeting. After seeing my file she made a proper fresh claim. The Home Office still have not given me an answer.
What contact have you had with your family since you arrived here?
My wife escaped the DRC in 2005. Earlier that year she had been arrested and our two children were lost. In prison she was raped and badly beaten. She went to Paris and by chance saw one lady from our borough, who told her I was in London. She tried to join me, but at Calais the English border police arrested her and tried to deport her to Congo. She spent 14 days in Sangatte detention centre and was very traumatised, but was eventually accepted in France as a refugee.
I’m hoping to rejoin my wife in Paris, but I’ve had six years here, and have made friends, studied and had political activities here. My case is good, and we want to take the Home Office to the High Court and get a judicial review. If we go to the tribunal, I’m sure we’ll win – if my case wasn’t strong the Home Office would have refused me already.
And in the UK you have continued your work with Abako?
Yes. I can’t stop the work I started in my country. We support a federalist system with autonomy for different regions, but those in power want centralisation. They take our resources and call us separatists that will cause ‘Balkanisation’.
I’m now general secretary of Abako until the next elections. I feel intimidated because we hear the Congolese government is sending agents here to kill activists. But I’m happy to continue – I like this work. One day our generation may pass, but another will come to solve this problem. We can win one day, this is my faith! For the moment I’ll continue.
n Joaquin Nzuzi Mbambi spoke to Andy Bowman and Amanda Sebestyen. The Home Office has now accepted his fresh asylum claim and asked his solicitor to withdraw the judicial review in the High Court. He is currently awaiting the Home Office decision, and if refused again will have the right to go to the immigration court
Nick Dowson looks at the new wave of co-ops and community groups where people are building their own truly affordable homes
Hsiao-Hung Pai meets people affected by the fire, and finds sadness and suffering mixed with a continuing wariness of the official investigations
Chris Williamson MP, winner of the election's tightest marginal, Derby North, and recently reappointed shadow minister for fire services, talks to Ashish Ghadiali about Jeremy Corbyn, the housing crisis and winning from the left
The Corbyn-supporting group is preparing for another election at any moment, writes Adam Peggs – and now has the potential to create powerful training initiatives, union links and party reform efforts
’We believe in you. We are with you. We will never forget.’ Grenfell solidarity sweeps East London in mass banner drops from housing estates
Michael Calderbank profiles Jeremy Corbyn's new supporters in parliament
The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) continues to witness devastating political violence, but the world refuses to act. Ishiaba Kasonga and Serge Egola Angbakodolo ask why?
When fire safety has become a privilege for the rich, it’s time to stop austerity and fund emergency mass works to raise standards immediately, writes Jane Shallice
Interview: Queer British Art
James O'Nions talks to author Alex Pilcher about the Tate’s Queer British Art exhibition and her book A Queer Little History of Art
Cable the enabler: new Lib Dem leader shows a party in crisis
Vince Cable's stale politics and collusion with the Conservatives belong in the dustbin of history, writes Adam Peggs
Anti-Corbyn groupthink and the media: how pundits called the election so wrong
Reporting based on the current consensus will always vastly underestimate the possibility of change, argues James Fox
Michael Cashman: Commander of the Blairite Empire
Lord Cashman, a candidate in Labour’s internal elections, claims to stand for Labour’s grassroots members. He is a phony, writes Cathy Cole
Contribute to Conter – the new cross-party platform linking Scottish socialists
Jonathan Rimmer, editor of Conter, says it’s time for a new non-sectarian space for Scottish anti-capitalists and invites you to take part
Editorial: Empire will eat itself
Ashish Ghadiali introduces the June/July issue of Red Pepper
Eddie Chambers: Black artists and the DIY aesthetic
Eddie Chambers, artist and art historian, speaks to Ashish Ghadiali about the cultural strategies that he, as founder of the Black Art Group, helped to define in the 1980s
Despite Erdogan, Turkey is still alive
With this year's referendum consolidating President Erdogan’s autocracy in Turkey, Nazim A argues that the way forward for democrats lies in a more radical approach
Red Pepper Race Section: open editorial meeting – 11 August in Leeds
The next open editorial meeting of the Red Pepper Race Section will take place between 3.30-5.30pm, Friday 11th August in Leeds.
Mogg-mentum? Thatcherite die-hard Jacob Rees-Mogg is no man of the people
Adam Peggs says Rees-Mogg is no joke – he is a living embodiment of Britain's repulsive ruling elite
Power to the renters: Turning the tide on our broken housing system
Heather Kennedy, from the Renters Power Project, argues it’s time to reject Thatcher’s dream of a 'property-owning democracy' and build renters' power instead
Your vote can help Corbyn supporters win these vital Labour Party positions
Left candidate Seema Chandwani speaks to Red Pepper ahead of ballot papers going out to all members for a crucial Labour committee
Join the Rolling Resistance to the frackers
Al Wilson invites you to take part in a month of anti-fracking action in Lancashire with Reclaim the Power
The Grenfell public inquiry must listen to the residents who have been ignored for so long
Councils handed housing over to obscure, unaccountable organisations, writes Anna Minton – now we must hear the voices they silenced
India: Modi’s ‘development model’ is built on violence and theft from the poorest
Development in India is at the expense of minorities and the poor, writes Gargi Battacharya
North Korea is just the start of potentially deadly tensions between the US and China
US-China relations have taken on a disturbing new dimension under Donald Trump, writes Dorothy Guerrero
The feminist army leading the fight against ISIS
Dilar Dirik salutes militant women-organised democracy in action in Rojava
France: The colonial republic
The roots of France’s ascendant racism lie as deep as the origins of the French republic itself, argues Yasser Louati
This is why it’s an important time to support Caroline Lucas
A vital voice of dissent in Parliament: Caroline Lucas explains why she is asking for your help
PLP committee elections: it seems like most Labour backbenchers still haven’t learned their lesson
Corbyn is riding high in the polls - so he can face down the secret malcontents among Labour MPs, writes Michael Calderbank
Going from a top BBC job to Tory spin chief should be banned – it’s that simple
This revolving door between the 'impartial' broadcaster and the Conservatives stinks, writes Louis Mendee – we need a different media
I read Gavin Barwell’s ‘marginal seat’ book and it was incredibly awkward
Gavin Barwell was mocked for writing a book called How to Win a Marginal Seat, then losing his. But what does the book itself reveal about Theresa May’s new top adviser? Matt Thompson reads it so you don’t have to
We can defeat this weak Tory government on the pay cap
With the government in chaos, this is our chance to lift the pay cap for everyone, writes Mark Serwotka, general secretary of public service workers’ union PCS
Corbyn supporters surge in Labour’s internal elections
A big rise in left nominations from constituency Labour parties suggests Corbynites are getting better organised, reports Michael Calderbank
Undercover policing – the need for a public inquiry for Scotland
Tilly Gifford, who exposed police efforts to recruit her as a paid informer, calls for the inquiry into undercover policing to extend to Scotland
Becoming a better ally: how to understand intersectionality
Intersectionality can provide the basis of our solidarity in this new age of empire, writes Peninah Wangari-Jones
The myth of the ‘white working class’ stops us seeing the working class as it really is
The right imagines a socially conservative working class while the left pines for the days of mass workplaces. Neither represent today's reality, argues Gargi Bhattacharyya
The government played the public for fools, and lost
The High Court has ruled that the government cannot veto local council investment decisions. This is a victory for local democracy and the BDS movement, and shows what can happen when we stand together, writes War on Want’s Ross Hemingway.
An ‘obscure’ party? I’m amazed at how little people in Britain know about the DUP
After the Tories' deal with the Democratic Unionists, Denis Burke asks why people in Britain weren't a bit more curious about Northern Ireland before now
The Tories’ deal with the DUP is outright bribery – but this government won’t last
Theresa May’s £1.5 billion bung to the DUP is the last nail in the coffin of the austerity myth, writes Louis Mendee