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Faith Nyasuguta

Early Wednesday, Judith Suminwa Tuluka made history by becoming the first female prime minister of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Before the National Assembly, the lower house of the DRC parliament, Tuluka and the other 54 new government members officially took office after deputies approved Tuluka’s action program with the required absolute majority.

During her presentation of the action program on Tuesday afternoon, Tuluka expressed her pride in breaking the “glass ceiling” as the first Congolese woman to serve as prime minister. 

“By assuming this position, I am fully aware of the historical importance of this moment and the symbolism of this appointment for the Congolese nation. I feel both the weight of the responsibility on me and immense pride in the idea of representing within the Republic the culmination of the efforts of all Congolese men and women tending to break the famous ‘glass ceiling’,” Tuluka remarked.

She outlined her vision for an “emerging Congo,” pledging to create around 2.6 million jobs and establish an academy of mathematics and artificial intelligence in Kinshasa. Her program also includes initiatives on national security, economic diversification, infrastructure connectivity, public services, and climate change.

Tuluka, who holds a master’s degree in applied economics from the Universitè libre de Bruxelles in Belgium, was appointed state minister for Planning in March 2023. From 2020 to 2023, she served as deputy coordinator of the Presidential Strategic Monitoring Council, an agency affiliated with the presidential office.

Judith Suminwa Tuluka /Deccan Herald/

At the end of last month, the Democratic Republic of the Congo finally formed a government, six months after President Felix Tshisekedi was sworn in for a second term. The country conducted its general election on December 20, 2023, followed by intense negotiations between various coalition partners that helped Tshisekedi secure his position.

In a dispatch publicized early on Wednesday, Prime Minister Sama Lukonde, who resigned in February, was formally replaced by Judith Suminwa. Suminwa had been appointed on April 1 but had not yet assumed her duties. Now, she will present her program, including budgetary proposals, to the National Assembly. The Assembly is also expected to formally approve the new Cabinet, which comprises 54 ministers.

Tshisekedi expects that the endorsement for his Cabinet will proceed smoothly, given his majority support with 406 MPs out of 500.

Significant changes have been made in the new government, particularly in the security dockets. Following a failed coup d’ètat and ongoing conflicts with armed groups, the Tshisekedi government has appointed new ministers of defense and security. Former Vice-President and ex-warlord Jean-Pierre Bemba will no longer lead the Ministry of Defence; he is now Deputy Prime Minister in charge of Transport. Bemba will be replaced by Guy Mwadiamvita, a close associate of President Tshisekedi and a member of the President’s UDPS party.

The Ministry of the Interior and Security is now headed by Jacquemain Shabani, another close ally of the Congolese head of state, who replaces Peter Kazadi. Constant Mutamba, 35, from the “moderate opposition” and an unsuccessful candidate in the December 2023 presidential election, will lead the Ministry of Justice.

Christophe Lutundula leaves the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, to be replaced by Thèrése Kayiwamba. Patrick Muyaya, the Minister for Communication and Government Spokesman, has been reappointed.

The new government is tasked with implementing President Tshisekedi’s program for his second term in office. According to Eric Nyindu, the president’s communications director, the new government is “a mission team” focused on “consolidating the achievements of Tshisekedi’s first term in office.”

Judith Suminwa Tuluka /Deccan Herald/

This mission includes job creation, with Tshisekedi promising to create 6.4 million jobs during his second term. “The other mission of Judith Suminwa’s government is to diversify the Congolese economy; the government will have to give the Congolese people more purchasing power; guarantee greater security for citizens; facilitate access to basic services and speed up reforms in the civil service, in particular,” added Nyindu.


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Faith Nyasuguta

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