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DRC: Ifoku Mputa Mpunga Marie Josee – the only female candidate in long awaited presidential elections

14.12.2018
The Democratic Republic of Congo will finally head to the polls on December 23, 2018 to decide who will rule the troubled vast East African state for the next five years. Elections have long been delayed in the country where demonstrations have been the order of the day, calling on incumbent Joseph Kabila to step down after his mandate expired in December 2016. Elections that were due to hold two years back were rather postposed with the country’s electoral body, the CENI listing the failure to come up with a valid voters’ register and the gov’t complaining of not having enough funds to organize the elections. The Constitutional court had ruled in 2016 that Kabila could stay in power until when next presidential elections were conducted. The fear at this point in time was that the incumbent will try to amend the constitution to see him go in for another term, as is the case with most states in the sub-region. However, it came as a surprise to many when Joseph Kabila agreed in August 2018 to step down. CENI had envisaged that the earliest elections could take place only in April 2019, but pressure from opposition parties and the international community saw the date finally being set for December 2018.

This year’s presidential elections will see 21 candidates competing for the top job, amongst who is a lone female. Emmanuel Ramazani Shadari, Felix Tshisekedi, Martin Fayulu and the only lady Ifoku Mputa Mpunga are some of the popular names in the long awaited elections.

WHO IS IFOKU MPUTA MPUNGA MARIE JOSEE?

Early Life

Marie-Josee is the only lady on the ballot paper. She was born on February 6, 1965 in Kinshasa. She is the fourth child in a family of nine children. Marie-Josée Ifoku is married to Jacky Kazadi Nduba and mother of 8 children with two grandchildren.

Educational Background

Marie-Josée Ifoku spent part of her childhood between Holland and Belgium before finishing high school at Kabambare High School in Kinshasa. She later moved to France, where she continued her university studies in EAP (Power Administration and Exchange) in Paris. She then went on to study administration at the University of Quebec in Hull. After completing her university degree in Canada, she worked as a real estate agent and then at a car dealership. In 2004, Marie-Josée Ifoku returned to her native Democratic Republic of Congo where she worked for Tractafric and ATC as a commercial director and Congo Motors as the general manager.

Political career 

Marie-Josée Ifoku made her lead way into politics in 2015 as deputy special commissioner of Tshuapa, one of DRC’s 26 provinces in 2016, before assuming the functions of Vice-Governor and thereafter as Governor. Her journey to appearing on the ballot for the December 23 presidential polls did not come easy after an initial disqualification by CENI. Together with other disqualified aspirants, they petitioned the Constitutional Courts, who finally readmitted her to contest. With Marie Josee Ifoku finally appearing amongst the candidates for this year’s elections, she is now dedicated to leading her moderate political party, Alliance of Elites for a New Congo, AENC. The party has three main missions including:

  • Reviving the consciences of the Congolese people everywhere so they can together build a new Congo.
  • Restore the authority of the state in all its forms so that peace, gender equality, the promotion of human dignity, especially that of women and girls, can be restored.
  • The equitable distribution of the wealth in the DRC.

She said to have been inspired by Catherine Samba-Panza, even in an acting capacity as president, who she considers her ‘political godmother’.

Marie-Josée Ifoku is also the founder and initiator of the BOMOKO association, whose main aim is to develop communities. Apart from her political and social activities, Marie-Josée Ifoku devotes herself to preaching in her church.

AFRIC Editorial Article.

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