DRC: Three ministers linked to presidential hopeful Moïse Katumbi quit government

By Anna Sylvestre-Treiner, Stanis Bujakera Tshiamala
Posted on Friday, 30 December 2022 13:25

Moïse Katumbi when he returned to Kinshasa on 6 November 2020. © ARSENE MPIANA/AFP

Christian Mwando, Chérubin Okende, and Véronique Kilumba have left their posts after the Ensemble movement leader announced that he would run against the incumbent Félix Tshisekedi for President of the DRC in 2023.

In response, President Tshisekedi has convened his council of ministers to evaluate the situation. What will happen next?

After Moïse Katumbi announced he was running for president, two members of the incumbent Tshisekedi Government — Christian Mwando, Minister of Planning, and Chérubin Okende, Minister of Transport and Communication — departed from their posts.

They were soon followed by Véronique Kilumba, Deputy Minister of Health.

Should they stay or should they go?

Once President Tshisekedi convened his council of ministers, he sought to reaffirm the loyalties of his cabinet.

Christophe Lutundula, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Modest Mutinga, Minister of Social Affairs, and Muhindo Nzangi, Minister of Higher Education, have chosen to remain in the Tshisekedi Government and support his upcoming candidacy for the 20 December 2023 elections.

According to sources, the Head of State had already been told of these decisions.

In a resignation letter obtained by us, dated Tuesday, 27 December 2022, and addressed to Prime Minister Jean-Michel Sama Lukonde, Chérubin Okende provided an assessment of his tenure as the head of his Ministry, expressed his deep gratitude to leadership, and regretfully announced his departure, taking into account the current political situation and the resolutions of his party’s convention.

Nothing to command

While each political faction is currently preparing for next year’s presidential election and performing a roll call of its supporters, it remains to be seen as to who will join the challenger Katumbi’s movement in advance of next year.

In an interview with Jeune Afrique published on 27 December, the former governor of Katanga explained his decision to sever political ties with President Tshisekedi, instead facing him in a presidential contest.

Katumbi has stated that he has not given instructions to any ministers and deputies who are closely politically aligned with him. “Everyone is free to do as they please. I don’t have to tell them what to do,” he said.

For their part, senior executives of the Sacred Union have continued to privately assure in recent months that no one would follow Katumbi if he were to leave President Tshisekedi’s political movement.

Game on.

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