Monday, December 08, 2014

New Congolese Government

President Joseph Kabila named a new government on Sunday, December 7th. Since national consultations in October 2013, many observers have been awaiting the naming of a so-called government of cohesion, which would include members of the opposition. Seven members from the opposition were included in the new cabinet, which will be led Prime Minister Augustin Matata Ponyo, who also led the previous government.

Over a year later, Kabila issued the names of the representatives of the new government. The number of members of the government increased by 11 from 37 in the former government to 48 in the new government. The new government led by Prime Minister Augustin Matata Ponyo is made up of three vice prime ministers, two ministers of state, 32 ministries and ten vice ministries

The new government is a far cry from a unity government or government of cohesion. The presidential majority has merely strengthened its hand in advance of the end of the presidential mandate of Joseph Kabila, which is supposed to come to an end in December 2016 when he will have completed the second of two five-year terms. Many signals have come from Kabila's camp that he aims to stay in power beyond 2016 by any means necessary. Decisions made over the next couple years by Kabila and his supporters is best viewed through the lens of methods or means he can leverage to remain in power beyond 2016.

Although the new government is dubbed as a government of cohesion or national unity, it is far from such. Major parties in the opposition such as UDPS (apparently a card carrying member of UDPS has joined the government but is not at all endorsed by the party) of Etienne Tshisekedi is not a part of the new government and neither are any members of Vital Kamerhe's UNC. Three members of Jean Pierre Bemba's MLC joined the new government, however, they were immediately dismissed from the party for not adhering to the policies of the party. The new government is without doubt dominated by the Presidential Majority and overtures to the opposition are symbolic at best. One cannot call the new government a cohesion government or a government of national unity.  Furthermore, the major thrust of the democratic forces in the country is around the departure of Kabila in 2016 and a peaceful transition via elections, the dominant concern is not being a part of a government that lacks legitimacy among the majority of the Congolese public.

Major ministries such as defense, finance, economy, mines are all under the full control of Joseph Kabila.

Premier Ministre:
Augustin Matata Ponyo

Article 1
Vice Prime Ministers:

1. Vice-premier et ministre de l’Intérieur et Sécurité : M. Evariste Boshab
2. Vice-premier et ministre des PT&NTIC : M. Thomas Luhaka Losendjola
3. Vice-premier et ministre de l’Emploi, Travail et Prévoyance Sociale : M. Willy Makiashi

Article 2 :
Ministres d’Etat et ministres en fonction:

4. Ministre d’Etat et ministre du Budget : M. Michel Bongongo
5. Ministre d’Etat et ministre de la Décentralisation et Affaire Coutumière : M. Simon Banamuhere

Article 3 :
Ministres en fonction:

6. Ministre des Affaires Etrangères et Coopération Internationale : M. Raymond Tshibanda
7. Ministre de la Défense, Anciens combattants et Réinsertion : M. Aimé Ngoy Mukena
8. Ministre de la Justice, Garde Sceau et Droits Humains : M. Alexis Thambwe Mwamba
9. Ministre du Portefeuille : Mme Louise Munga
10. Ministre de Relation avec le Parlement : M. Tryphon Kin-kiey Mulumba
11. Ministre de la Communication et Médias : M. Lambert Mende
12. Ministre de l’EPSP et Initiation à la Nouvelle Citoyenneté : M. Maker Mwangu Famba
13. Ministre du Plan et Révolution de la Modernité : M. Olivier Kamitatu
14. Ministre de la Fonction Publique : M. Jean-Claude Kibala
15. Ministre des Infrastructures : M. Fridolin Kasweshi
16. Ministre des Finances : Henri Yav Muland
17. Ministre de l’Economie Nationale : M. Modeste Bahati Lukwebo
8. Ministre de l’Environnement et Développement Durable : M. Bienvenu Lihota Ndjoli
19. Ministre du Commerce : Mme Ngudianga Bayokisa
20. Ministre de l’Industrie : M. Germain Kambinga
21. Ministre de l’Agriculture, Pêche et Elevage : M. Kabwe Mwewu
22. Ministre des Affaires Foncières : M. Bolengetenge Balela
23. Ministre des Mines: M. Martin Kabwelulu
24 : Ministre des Hydrocarbures : M. Crispin Atama Tabe
25. Ministre de l’Energie et Ressources Hydrauliques : M. Jeannot Matadi Nenga Gamanda
26. Ministre de la Culture et des Arts : M. Banza Mukalay
27. Ministre du Tourisme : M. Elvis Muntiri wa Bashala
28. Ministre de la Santé Publique : M. Félix Kabange Numbi
29. Ministre de l’ESU : M. Théophile Mbemba Fundu
30. Ministre de l’Enseignement Technique et Professionnel : M. Jean Nengbangba
31. Ministre de l’Aménagement du Territoire, Urbanisme et habitat : M. Omer Egwake
32. Ministre des Transports et Voies de Communication : M. Justin Kalumba
33. Ministre de la Recherche Scientifique et Technologique : M. Daniel Madimba Kalonji
34. Ministre du Genre, Famille et Enfant : Mme Bijoux Kat
35. Ministre des PME et Classe Moyenne : M. Bohongo Nkoy
36. Ministre du Développement Rural : M. Eugène Serufuli
37. Ministre de la Jeunesse, Sports et Loisirs : M. Sama Lukonde Kienge

Article 4 :
Vice-ministres en fonction:

38. Vice-ministre de l’Intérieur : Mme Martine Bukasa Ntumba
39. Vice-ministre de la Défense nationale : M. René Nsibu
40. Vice-ministre de la Justice et Droits Humains : M. Mboso Nkodia Mpuanga
41. Vice-ministre du Budget : Mme Ernestine Nyoka
42. Vice-ministre de la Coopération Internationale et Intégration Régionale : M. Franck Mwendi Malila
43. Vice-ministre des Congolais de l’Etranger : M. Antoine Boyamba
44. Vice-ministre de l’Energie : Mme Maguy Rwakabuba
45. Vice-ministre des Finances : M. Albert Mpeti
46. Vice-ministre du Plan : Mme Lisette Bisangana Ngalamulume
47. Vice-ministre des Postes et Télécommunications : M. Enoch Sebineza

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Breaking The Silence: Congo Week, October 19 - 25, 2014

Dear Friend,

The seventh year of Breaking the Silence: Congo Week will take place from October 19 - 25, 2014. It is your commitment to standing in solidarity with the Congolese people that has kept this movement growing each year. Due to your engagement, an increasing number of people throughout the globe is becoming aware of the situation in the Congo and demanding that world leaders do more to help bring an end to the deadliest conflict in the world since World War Two.

The United Nations, African Union, the United States and other countries have gotten more involved, however, greater engagement is not a prescription in and of itself for peace. The application of policies grounded in justice for the Congolese people is paramount to bringing about peace and lasting stability in the Congo and the Great Lakes Region of Africa.

Young Congolese inside and outside of the Congo along with their allies in the global community are mobilizing to assure that policies are implemented to advance peace, justice and democracy in the Congo.

We encourage you to join us this October for Congo Week as we commemorate the millions of lives lost in the conflict while celebrating the country's enormous human and natural potential.

This year we are prioritizing three concrete actions:

1. Host an event during Congo Week. We also encourage you to create a team and recruit individuals and organizations (student, women, peace, labor, faith-based, human rights, environmental, etc) to participate in Congo Week.

2. Participate in the Dear John Campaign (A campaign to send a letter/postcard to Secretary of State John Kerry demanding that the U.S. support democracy in the Congo while holding its allies in the region accountable for their destabilizing of the DRC)

3. Host a fundraiser or benefit event to raise funds to support Congolese youth who are organizing for peace and justice. Find out more here about how you can support the Congo Connect Youth Initiative.

Seize the moment and become a part of a noble pursuit for peace, justice and human dignity in the heart of Africa, our home, the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Samya Lugoma
Congo Week Lead Coordinator

Kambale Musavuli
Spokesperson, Friends of the Congo

  • Stay abreast of Congo Week activities via Twitter by using #CongoWeek2014.
  • Share the Congo Week promotional video with your network.
  • Visit the Breaking the Silence: Congo Week page on Facebook.
  • Support the organizing of Congo Week with a financial contribution.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Congo Swim Kicks Off Today


This Father’s Day, Sunday, June 15th marks the official launch of CongoSwim 2014, an opportunity for everyone to bring deeper meaning to any summer activity. Keris Dahlkamp, CongoSwim founder and a Contra Costa father of two, developed the collective action as a platform to break the silence around the worst humanitarian crisis of our time and raise support for Congolese groups working for a peaceful and just future.  It is estimated that at least 6 million people have died from war-related causes, half being children under the age of 5. 

Keris Dahlkamp swims Lake Tahoe
“If it were my wife or child being affected by violence in this way, I would hope that those who could do something, would do something.  Especially since we benefit so much from Congo’s land, I invite everyone to join me because every action matters.”  Dahlkamp said.

The Democratic Republic of Congo is one of the most mineral-rich countries on our planet.  Minerals such as coltan, tin and gold are necessary to manufacture our computers, cell phones, cars and more.  Control of the land and these resources has played a key role in fueling the conflict. 

Parents are finding CongoSwim a great way to help their children explore global citizenship and how any regular activity can be a vehicle for helping others.  Upon registering, families receive information with appropriate language to speak with children about injustice.

Children participate in Congo Swim
“I joined because there are people in Congo who are suffering and I am here using an iPad made from valuable minerals that are supposed to benefit them,” shared a nine year old participant.

Last summer, Dahlkamp swam 22 miles across Lake Tahoe where he was joined by Coco Ramanzani, a survivor of war and rape in eastern Congo.  Coco, whose story is told in the book, Tell This to My Mother, is an activist and advocate for all women and children.  Coco says, “It is too painful to imagine that all that has happened to me in Congo is happening to other women and children right now… I hope all of you will join CongoSwim. I invite everyone to invest in a future free of violence, full of human dignity.”  Ramazani will return again to the east bay and speak on August 23 following a walk around Lake Merritt. 

To learn more and register visit or call 925.812.2496.

Funds raised will be distributed as grants by Global Fund for Women and Friends of the Congo to women and youth-led groups in Congo.  CongoSwim will be officially launched at the Lafayette-Orinda Presbyterian Church (LOPC) this Father’s Day, with a call to action from Seven Hills graduating 8th grader Suzanna Creasey who walked 22 miles around the Lafayette Reservoir with her family as CongoSwim participants.  While the beneficiaries are not religiously affiliated and participants are from diverse beliefs and backgrounds, key organizing has come from the LOPC Congo Team.

For interview contact
Keris Dahlkamp                                                              
CongoSwim founder                                                                                                  
(925) 812-2496      

Kambale Musavuli
Friends of the Congo
(202) 584-6512

Monday, June 02, 2014

Conflict Minerals and Congolese People's Priorities

Speech to be delivered by Jeanne Kasongo L.Ngondo of the Shalupe Foundation at the Massachusetts State House, House Chamber on May 27, 2014

Members of the Senate and the House,
Distinguished Guests,
And Fellow Citizens of Massachusetts:

On behalf of the Congolese people, I would like to thank the Congo Action Now, Congolese Community of Massachusetts, Congolese Genocide Awareness, Congolese Women's Association of New England, Génération "R", Mwinda Catholic Community, Survivors, Inc., and Women's International League for Peace and Freedom for coming together to raise the profile of the situation in the Congo.

It is a privilege and an honor to be able to address this esteemed body to convey the most pressing concerns of the Congolese people at this time in our history. Although, we are here to discuss conflict minerals and the concerns of the American consumers, I would be remiss if I did not speak to the two most pressing concerns of the Congolese people. The first of these concerns is best expressed in a March 2014 National Geographic feature that recounts an encounter between US Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power and a few displaced Congolese women in a refugee camp. The author writes:
When Power asked, “What would it take for you to feel safe enough to go home?” the women all tried to speak at once. But, aside from repeating salama (peace), they didn't mention the things one usually hears are needed in Congo, and which these women clearly needed very badly: food, homes, jobs, government. Instead, they were concerned with geopolitics. One by one, they execrated their neighbor Rwanda, whose government has, according to UN investigators and others, backed militias in eastern Congo. They called out presidents and warlords by name.

“We don't want Rwanda to take a single meter of our land,” a woman said. Another got on her knees and pleaded for the international community to put sanctions on Rwanda. An old woman in the back called out, “Makenga and the rest of the leaders should be arrested.”

These Congolese women who could have asked the US Ambassador for anything; asked her for accountability, an end to the impunity and justice. The United States has heard the cries of these Congolese grandmothers and mothers and have begun to act by withholding military aid from its erstwhile ally Rwanda and we implore you to call on Secretary of State Kerry and the Obama administration to continue to hold its allies accountable and assure that Rwanda and Uganda cease their destructive interventions in the Congo once and for all.

The second concern and the most pressing, is the upcoming 2016 elections which will mark the end of a leadership that lacks legitimacy headed by President Joseph Kabila. According to the Congolese constitution, the president can only serve two five-year terms and Joseph Kabila's second term will end on December 16, 2016. Unfortunately, we are getting strong signals that Kabila will try to extend his stay in power, in spite of the tenets of the constitution and in direct contradiction to the will of the Congolese people. This represents the biggest threat to stability in the country today. This is the most pressing issue to Congolese inside and outside of the DRC. The Obama administration seems to understand this. During Sec of State John Kerry and Special Envoy Russ Feinglod's recent visit to the DRC, they made it clear in no uncertain terms to President Kabila and the Congolese people that Kabila ought to respect the Congolese constitution and step down. According to the State Department’s read out, Secretary of State Kerry said in response to a question regarding President Kabila respecting the constitution and stepping down at the end of his term in 2016 "the United States of America feels very strongly, as do other people, that the constitutional process needs to be respected and adhered to."

Respecting Congo's constitution and supporting the democratic process in the DRC is the most vital question at hand as it relates to peace and stability in the Congo and the Great Lakes Region of Africa.
I appeal to you to continue to encourage the Obama Administration and the Secretary of State to maintain its current stand and policy which is in alignment with Public Law 109-456, the law that president Obama passed as senator that calls for the US to hold its allies in the region accountable for their destabilizing of the Congo and also calls on the US government to support democracy in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Thank you. God bless you. God bless the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. And God bless the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
National Geographic Article

State Department Read Out From John Kerry's Trip to Congo

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Brandeis & Tufts Issue Statements on Paul Kagame's Visit to their Universities

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Rwandan President Paul Kagame’s visit to Brandeis University this week is part of appearances he is making at several Boston-area universities, including Harvard and Tufts.  President Kagame engaged in a round-table discussion with invited guests and faculty and students affiliated with the Sustainable International Development program at the Heller School for Social Policy and Management and the Brandeis University program in Peace, Conflict and Coexistence as well as with Brandeis students originally from Rwanda.

To clarify, this event was not a public speaking engagement and was an invitation-only, academic event.

President Kagame’s visit is consistent with the principles of academic freedom and a longstanding Brandeis tradition of hosting international dignitaries, some controversial, in the interest of scholarly understanding and academic dialogue.

Thank you for your inquiry.

Ellen de Graffenreid, MA, MBA
Senior Vice President for Communications
Brandeis University
415 South Street, MS 136
Waltham, MA 02453-2728
Phone: 781-736-4213

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

As an institution of higher education, Tufts often invites leaders in public life to campus so that our community of scholars and students can hear first-hand their opinions and perspectives on the important and complex issues facing our global society. Faculty across Tufts bring to their teaching, research, and public service significant expertise in African affairs and issues related to genocide and humanitarian assistance, and many of our faculty and students have been actively involved in research and service projects in support of the Rwandan people. President Kagame was invited to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the Rwandan genocide and we welcomed the opportunity to hear his reflections on the lessons the world has learned from that tragedy. We also anticipated and welcomed the opportunity for the Tufts community to vigorously discuss those views. We are pleased that the event was well-attended and the audience fully  engaged.

Best regards,
Kimberly M. Thurler
Director of Public Relations
Tufts University
80 George Street
Medford MA 02155
Phone: 617-627-3175

Sunday, February 16, 2014

The Pursuit of Democracy Continues

On February 16, 1992, Congolese Christians responded to a call by the Catholic Church to protest peacefully and demand the reopening of the Sovereign National Conference (Conference National Souveraine - CNS in French). The conference was a democratic forum composed of delegates who represented all layers of the society in the Congo (Zaire at the time) from members of civil society, political parties, the military, the diaspora, as well as the president himself (Mobutu Se Seko). This conference was tasked with interrogating the country’s history and finding a way to deal with the multidimensional national crisis (political, economic, social, cultural, and moral) that the country was facing in 1990.

On January 19, 1992, then-Mobutu-appointed prime minister Nguza Karl-I-Bond announced the suspension of the Sovereign National Conference on radio and television. This decision to suspend the CNS angered many Congolese who had high hopes that this democratic process would help the country extricate itself from dictatorial rule. The Catholic Church, which at the time distanced itself from Mobutu's regime and became more vocal about Mobutu's human rights abuse, made a call to all Christians and civil society groups for a massive demonstration to reopen the Sovereign National Conference. Thousands of marchers from all backgrounds converged on the Tata Raphaël stadium. Police and soldiers opened fire on the marchers before they could reach their destination, killing more than forty people. This incident, which caused international outcry as news began to enter the western world, forced the government to reinstate the CNS in April 1991 and served as a pivotal point in Congo's struggle toward democratization.

In his book "The History of the Congo," Dr Didier Gondola revisits this important date and give us the reason why Christians in the Congo took to the streets. He says: "In early 1992, Mobutu decided to disband the Sovereign National Conference (Conference Nationale Souveraine - CNS), an assembly whose main task was to create a new constitution and organize democratic elections. In response to this decision, strong opposition mounted among Kinshasa's independent churches. On February 16, 1992, thousands of church members took their grievances to the streets of the capital in what was dubbed by its organizers as the "March of Hope" (Marche de l'Espoir). Marchers held banners demanding the reopening of the CNS, and they chanted songs against violence and dictatorship. The peaceful march ended in a bloodbath when the army intervened and gunned down dozens of demonstrators. The March of Hope has since been held up as a major turning point in the relations between the church and state. It was also an event that precipitated the end of Mobutu's regime."

In 2014, the pursuit of genuine democracy continues as young Congolese demand that the current government respect the constitution by holding free and fair elections in 2016, when President Joseph Kabila's second term will come to an end. Per its constitution, on December 19, 2016 Congo must be endowed with a new president and hopefully one that benefits from the popular will of the people unlike the current regime which lacks legitimacy due to its appropriation of the 2011 elections.

Saturday, January 04, 2014

Commemorating Independence Martyrs Day

January 4th is a historic day in Congo’s history, which serves as a national holiday. On January 4, 1959, ordinary Congolese stood in defiance of Belgian colonialism demanding independence. Congolese in Kinshasa unleashed a spontaneous uprising out of frustration with the repressive Belgian colonial regime. In his seminal work "Congo: From Leopold to Kabila," Dr Georges Nzongola Ntalaja said the march on January 4, 1959 "sounded the death knell of Belgian Colonialism in the Congo." The unifying chant of the marchers was "Indépendance Immediate" or "Independence Now" in English. The uprising represented the radicalization of the struggle for independence. It frightened not only the Belgian authorities but also the Congolese elites know as évolués.

Nine days later on January 13, 1959 both the King of Belgium and the Belgium government announced that in due time Belgium would grant Congo full independence. In the conscience of the nation, the day represents the historic point of departure for the independence of the Congo from Belgian colonialism.

The courageous stance by that generation of Congolese served as a key catalyst for Congo’s independence in 1960. Since the 1960s Congolese have celebrated and commemorated that generation’s actions and named the day “la journée des martyrs de l’indépendance,” or in English, independence Martyrs Day. Without a doubt, Congolese of that era made enormous sacrifices for freedom and independence.

This year's Martyrs Day is without a doubt dedicated to the recently passed Congolese hero Colonel Mamadou Ndala who was assassinated on January 2nd due to a mortar attack near Beni in the North Kivu province of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Colonel Mamadou was a solider of the people and loved by the people due to his bravery, patriotism and willingness to sacrifice his own life to protect a beleaguered people. Colonel Mamadou is the latest in a long line of martyrs who have fought for peace, justice and human dignity in the heart of Africa.

Congolese youth of today continue to make sacrifice for a better future for the sons and daughters of the Congo?

Join the global movement in support of a peaceful and just Congo!