Judith Suminwa Tuluka, the DRC's first woman prime minister

Judith Suminwa Tuluka, DRC's prime Minister. Screenshot from France24 YouTube channel.

On  April 1, 2024, in a historic decision few nations worldwide can boast of, Judith Suminwa Tuluka was named prime minister of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). As prime minister, she will be responsible for running the day-to-day administrative tasks and implementing the policies set by the president, who oversees the executive functions of the government.

With Judith Suminwa Tuluka‘s appointment as prime minister, the Congolese people's wait for a new government has finally concluded. Three months after the presidential elections on December 20, 2023, which secured Félix Tshisekedi a second term as the nation's leader with 73.34 percent of the vote, Judith Suminwa Tuluka is set to take over from Jean-Michel Sama Lukonde Kyenge, who has served as prime minister since February 2021.

Further reading: DRC: opposition groups are decrying President Félix Tshisekedi's re-election as fraudulent

Suminwa Tuluka, born on October 19, 1967, in the western province of Kongo-Central, is the first woman to serve as head of government in the DRC. With a degree in accounting and a master's in applied economics, she has been Minister of Planning in the previous government of Jean-Michel Sama Lukonde Kyenge since March 2023.

Just minutes after her appointment, she delivered a statement to the media that was subsequently broadcast by BBC Afrique:

Je suis consciente de la grande responsabilité qui est la mienne et j'ai indiqué au Chef de l'État qu'il pouvait compter sur ma loyauté pour l'aider à mener à bien le développement de notre pays. Sur la base de ses engagements pris au moment de son investiture, nous allons travailler pour le pays et son développement. La tâche est grande, les défis sont immenses. Je sais que la tâche est grande et les défis immenses. Mais avec l’appui du Président de la République et celui de tous, on y arrivera.

I am aware of the great responsibility that now lies with me, and I have assured the Head of State that he can count on my loyalty to help achieve the development of our country. Based on the commitments he made at the time of his inauguration, we will work for the country and its development. The task is formidable, the challenges are immense. I know the task is formidable and the challenges are immense, but, with the support of the President of the Republic and everyone, we will succeed.

Expressing her gratitude to Félix Tshisekedi, she declared on her X account:

I give thanks to God for my appointment. Thank you to PR05, Champion of positive masculinity, for his trust. The challenges are immense, and I promise to tackle them with full responsibility for a developed, united, and peaceful DRC. Together, we will overcome our enemies.@fatshi13 pic.twitter.com/oLtz3AJhYJ

— Judith SUMINWA TULUKA (@SuminwaJudith) April 2, 2024

Further reading: Women gain foothold in Africa's political landscape


The appointment of Judith Suminwa Tuluka is greatly appreciated across the country. Faida Mwangilwa, a civil society advocate speaking to BBC Afrique, views this nomination as the Congolese president's answer to the demands of Congolese women:

Nous voulons la voir gouverner autrement. Les hommes ont toujours géré. Et c’est la première fois qu’une femme va le faire. Et pour cette première fois, on doit voir la différence. Elle doit répondre aux besoins de la population en termes des questions prioritaires comme la sécurisation de toute la population, le rétablissement de l’autorité de l’État, l’assainissement de nos villes, villages, des milieux de travail et de l’administration publique.

We want to see her govern differently. Men have always been in charge. And this is the first time a woman is. For this first time, we must see a difference. She must address the critical needs of the people, focusing on security for all, reinstating state authority, and cleaning up our cities, villages, workplaces, and the public sector.

Online, other Congolese have voiced their opinions. Gael Bussa, a member of parliament and the national youth secretary for the Courant des Démocrates rénovateurs (Movement of Renovating Democrats), posted on his account:

Congratulations to our very first woman Prime Minister, Mrs. Judith Tuluka Suminwa, appointed by the President of the Republic! May you bravely embrace the heavy responsibilities that await you. it is now time to work hard to restore peace, security, employment, bring change, and restore smiles to our Congolese people. Thpic.twitter.com/Na5WAiwW1J

— Gael BUSSA (@BussaGael) April 1, 2024

The Congolese politician, Jean Pierre Bemba, also congratulated Tuluka Suminwa :

My heartfelt congratulations to Mrs. Judith Tuluka Suminwa on her historic nomination as the leader of the government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Best wishes for success in the duties assigned to you by President Félix Antoine Tshisekedi.

— Jean Pierre Bemba (@bembajp) April 1, 2024

Daniel Mukoko Samba, a Congolese economist and educator, wrote on his account:

Judith Suminwa Tuluka appointed Prime Minister #DRC. I am confident that @SuminwaJudith will dedicate all her skills to the service of the Nation. Drawing on her rich experience from various senior positions, she will find the strength and insight to lead government action. Sincere congratulations. pic.twitter.com/i8hqCSQ9MH

— Daniel Mukoko Samba (@DMukokoSamba) April 1, 2024

The Congolese artist, musician and producer, Fere Gola, is also full of praise for the new prime minister, writing on his X account:

My heartfelt congratulations to our new prime minister, Judith Suminwa Tuluka, with hopes that her appointment will bring about positive change in our country.

Spotlight on Kongo Central. 🇨🇩🐆 pic.twitter.com/gcnI5mmgSV

— Ferre Gola (@ferregola) April 1, 2024


This VOA Afrique video features several Congolese citizens commenting on Tuluka Suminwa's appointment and discussing their expectations for her:

Long before her political career, Judith Suminwa Tuluka had an international career working within the United Nations, specifically at the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in her country. In a video posted on his X account, Damien Mama, the current UNDP Resident Representative in the DRC, speaks about the excellence and rigour demonstrated by the new prime minister:

.@DamienMama, UNDP Representative in the DRC, discusses his institution's experience with the PDL-145T project, managed under the guidance of Judith Suminwa, then Minister of Planning.

Read our Special Coverage in French:

Expectations and challenges

While she is well-appreciated for her distinguished career, the new head of government is also expected to deliver on the campaign promises and commitments of the president of the DRC, which include: job creation, continuation of the DRC's development plan, agriculture development, economic diversification, and protection of purchasing power.

In an interview with VOA Afrique, Christian Moleka, the coordinator of the DRC's Dynamics of Political Scientists, discusses the challenges ahead for Suminwa Tuluka:

The security situation in the DRC, particularly the control of territories in the east by M23 rebels and other terrorist organizations, is expected to be a major concern among the expectations of the Congolese people.

Judith Suminwa Tuluka thus becomes the third active woman prime minister on the continent, following Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila, who has been in office since March 2015 in Namibia, and Victoire Tomegah Dogbe, who has served since September 2020 in Togo.

Further reading: Humanitarian crises in the DRC and Sudan: Over 14 million displaced as famine looms

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