Democratic Republic of Congo: What to read and who to follow to understand the social and political situation

The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is less than a month away from a General Election scheduled for the 20 December 2023 in a unique security context. Essentially, the country is experiencing a security crisis which is giving rise to a humanitarian crisis in the east. Numerous candidates and political parties have launched themselves into the electoral campaign being waged principally through traditional media and on social networks. The DRC is actually one of the African giants, endowed with a population of more than 103 million.

To find out more, read: Preparations for the general elections continue despite growing insecurity in the DRC

That being said, the press is far from free: in 2023, Reporters Without Borders (RSF)'s rankings places the country 124th out of 180 countries. The media landscape is nevertheless populated by a multiplicity of outlets. According to RSF, it is represented by 177 television channels, more than 4,000 radio stations, 540 newspapers and 36 on-line channels. The life-blood of all these outlets is over 7,000 professional journalists.

Local sources

In the DRC, Radiotélévision nationale congolaise (RTNC) is the country's official press grouping. On X, previously known as Twitter, RTNC weighs in at over 33,900 followers. As well as RTNC, Radio Okapi, set up by the United Nations, and Radio Top Congo are the most followed conventional channels across the country's territory, by virtue of their wide national cover. Apart from Top Congo, which broadcasts in Lingala and French, each of the other channels broadcasts in the country's four national languages (Lingala, Swahili, Kikongo and Tshiluba) on top of French, which is the country's official language, spoken by more than 50 percent of the population.

But in this digital era, online outlets are booming, and are more than happy to turn their spotlights in various directions. In 2022, a ranking of the most followed online outlets revealed that, which had built up more than 888,900 followers on Twitter (now X), was the most highly visible site in the country. It was closely followed by the news site, which has made news coverage its pole of attraction. The online newspaper boasts 750,400 subscribers on X.

The site, which has more than 697,900 followers on X, specializes in the production of podcast videos and generalist articles in the country. There is also Voiceofcongo, with more than 328,500 followers on X, and Zoom-eco, with more than 84,100 subscribers on the same site.

Read: IciCongo: portrait of a young online channel that wants to ‘Tell the story of Congo differently’

These online publishers are all the more active during this election season. In the DRC, the level of internet access was 22.9 percent at the start of 2023.

International coverage

The RDC is also at the centre of regional and international media attention as a function of its importance, its mineral wealth, and the struggle for influence between China, Europe and the United States in the country. Coverage of the election campaigns has thus not gone under the radar of regional outlets such as Jeune Afrique, le360afrique, or africanews‘s French language service. International channels also discuss it: the French channel France 24, the Belgian network Radio Télévision Belge Francophone (RTBF), and also the Paris-based magazine Afrique XXI, which produces fact files and analyses on subjects such as politics and the armed conflict in the East of the country.

So too the French channel Tv5monde has presented a key to the election issues with Martin Fayulu, president of the ECiDé Party, and candidate for president:

The same exercise was brought to fruition undertaken with Dr Denis Mukwege, another presidential candidate. Here, he presents his political program at the time in the context of the December 2023 election:

The French language services of channels originating in English-speaking countries like Voice of America (VOA) Afrique and BBC Afrique also offer news topics and interesting broadcasts on the DRC.

How about social networking sites?

Several Congolese personalities highly active on social networks share their opinions on DRC political developments. Notable among these are: human rights activist and feminist Gloria Sengha, journalist Peter Tiani (more than 186,400 followers on X), and Pascal Malegwa (more than 172,900 followers on Twitter), a correspondent for Radio France Internationale and FRANCE24 in the DRC, who are among the most well-informed voices.

Among politicians and presidential candidates, Moise Katumbi, Denis Mukwege, Martin Fayulu also have voiced their thoughts on Congolese current affairs.

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