More than three-quarters of the Democratic Republic of Congo’s new ministers are in cabinet for the very first time. Each new appointment has been fiercely debated. By Romain Gras and Stanis Bujakera Tshiamala

PPRD in key positions

José Sele Yalaghuli, Minister of Finance (PPRD). Born in 1968, he is a PPRD executive and very close to Emmanuel Shadary. Like his opponent Jean-Pierre Bemba, Yalaghuli is from the Equateur province. Former Prime Minister Matata Ponyo Mapon is his political sponsor. His relatives have described him as discreet, meticulous, and competent.

Célestin Tunda ya Kasende, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Justice (PPRD). Deputy Secretary General of the PPRD in charge of political issues and external relations since May 2015. Former Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs in the Matata government. He’s a lawyer from the Lomami province, and is one of the founders of the PPRD. He reclaims a strategic post, which former President Joseph Kabila was not ready to give up. The former president’s relatives were suggested for the post, but the opposing side rejected them.

Willy Kitobo Samsoni, Minister of Mines (PPRD). Former provincial Minister of Mines in the former Katanga, where he is highly respected. A PPRD executive, and a professor at the University of Lubumbashi. It’s a crucial portfolio in an economy that heavily relies on the extractive sector. Several of Kabila’s relatives have interests in mining.

Gilbert Kankonde, Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of the Interior (UDPS). He’s 66 years old, and from the Kasai region. Holds a strategic position in the run-up to the 2023 general election. The Tshisekedi coalition was willing to make almost any sacrifice for this post. Former assistant to Etienne Tshisekedi. President Felix Tshisekedi appointed him the National Secretary for External Relations of the UDPS. The Head of State has full confidence in him.

Jean Baudouin Mayo Mambeke, Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of the Budget (UNC). Secretary General of the UNC. He is one of the most influential figures in Vital Kamerhe’s party. In December 2016, the outspoken leader publicly accused Kamerhe of drawing his membership, including himself, from eastern DR Congo. He accused him of « playing a selfish role ». Mayo is the guarantor of a certain geographical balance within the party. He was the only member of the UNC among the negotiators of the Cach alliance.

Aimé Ngoy Mukena, Minister of Defence (FCC). Former governor of Katanga (from 2001 to 2004)

He is not strictly speaking a heavyweight politician. Temporary Minister of National Defence and Veterans Affairs (December 2014 to September 2015), he was later entrusted with the strategic Hydrocarbons portfolio in the Matata Ponyo government. He’s influential in former Katanga, the province of the former head of state, with connections to state security. He fell into controversy in 2015 after claiming to have helped Kabila to “build” an image of Katangese, and to be at the origin of the nickname Kabange.

The insubmersible

Azarias Ruberwa, Minister of Decentralization (FCC). Ruberwa, was in the inclusive national dialogue in Kinshasa, on 15/12/2016. Always close to Kabila, he is the only Common Front for Congo (FCC) negotiator to win a post. He is one of the few local leaders in Kabila’s camp to retain his position in government (He was first appointed to the position in 2016). A founding member of the Rassemblement Congolais Pour la Démocratie (RCD), he was one of four vice-presidents appointed in 2003. As a candidate in 2006, he won only 1.7% of the vote.

The women

Marie Tumba Nzeza, Minister of Foreign Affairs (UDPS). A new face for Congolese diplomacy. An early UDPS activist involved in the party’s national conference in 1990. At the request of Félix Tshisekedi, she took over the position as deputy general secretary for foreign affairs in May 2018, inheriting a fiercely contested ministry. Nzeza was the preferred choice over Kamerhe’s former brother-in-law, Aimé Boji, who was also approached for the position. Of the 17% of women in government, she holds the largest portfolio.

Néné Nkulu Ilunga, Minister of Employment and Labour (FCC).Member of the AFDC-A since its creation, and deputy secretary until Modeste Bahati Lukwebo broke away from the party. Former Deputy Governor of Haut-Lomami Province (born out of the Katanga division), re-elected MP in 2018, and spokesperson for the AFDC-A parliamentary group in the Assembly. She is also the leader of the rebels. She is from the family of Norbert Nkulu, former legal advisor to ex-president Kabila.

The youth

Billy Kambale, Minister of Youth and New Citizenship (UNC). Very active on Twitter, with more than 52,000 followers. The 30-year-old politician is one of Kamerhe’s protégés, with whom he shares ties in the East. The President of the UNC Youth League was also a candidate for a national position in Goma.

Yves Bonkulu Zola, Minister of Tourism (UDPS). President of the UDPS Youth League. He represents the Kongo-Central within the government. A doctor by training. He began his political involvement at the University of Kinshasa. At 35, he is one of the youngest members of government.