Thierry Lezin Moungalla MP, until his recent appointment as minister of Communications and Media in charge of relations with the national assembly and official government spokesman, he was the minister of Post and Telecommunications and Digital Technology. Mr Moungalla is an eloquent and intelligent gentleman and also for Congolese elite, he respects time and keeps to his promises. He was a former arch enemy of the ruling party and the current President. However now, his is the poodle of the ruling party especially to Claudia Sassou Nguesso and Jean Jacques Bouya. Anyway that is what his detractors claim. And before carpet crossing to join his former foes of the ruling party, under whose banner he has been elected MP for Sibiti, a town located in the Lekoumou division or department, which is in the south of Congo, he was one of the special advisers of Andre Milongo. Andre Milongo was the former Congolese Prime minister, during the transition from Marxist rule to multiparty democracy in the 90s. Thierry Moungalla who has spend most of his youth in France, where he also did most of his education, was as indicated earlier, formerly a member of the opposition UDR Mwinda, chaired by late Andre Milongo and he was also the editor in chief of an online magazine that was virulently against President Denis Sassou Nguesso. But today, he has become an avid supporter of the President and also a strong proponent of constitutional change.
From opposition to fanatical supporter
While he is today a vocal supporter of President Denis Sassou Nguesso and has been given the ministerial post of Communications and government spokesperson, a responsibility that is given only to fanatical supporters in difficult times, he is being accused and described by his detractors as a shameless traitor, who has betrayed the legacy of his mentor, Andre Milongo. According to his detractors, it was Andre Milongo who discovered his talents in France and brought him in Congo and also introduced him in the national political milieu. It is an accusation that is roundly rejected by Thierry Moungalla, who says, he is still loyal to his mentor and has never betrayed him. He also adds that, he (Thierry Moungalla) is at the service of Congo and not working for individuals or an individual, no matter how important he is or may have been. However, it is very difficult to say with precision whether Thierry Moungalla has really converted into a staunch supporter of the regime or whether he is just a patriot who has opted to support a “lesser crime” or “the lesser criminal” called Denis Sassou Nguesso, because of the stability and infrastructural development that he has stirred the country toward. But what is certain is that, given his intellectual background, he might be useful for the country after the end of the nepotism tinged government of President Denis Sassou Nguesso. However, given his decision to be at the forefront in the campaign for the change of the January 2002 constitution, an unpopular project, but a pet project nursed by the president, might cause Thierry Moungalla dearly, if it succeeds or fails to actualize. This is so because, even within the ruling party and also within the ruling Nguesso family, there are many who are against the change of the constitution, which will prolong the stay of President Denis Sassou Nguesso in power.
Thierry Moungalla knows that, logically and legally, the January 20th 2002 constitution cannot be changed. Hence his own strategy is tilted toward political justifications to back the reasons, why he thinks or wants constitutional change in Congo. Whether he is being honest or simply politicking or even playing the opportunist, it is only known by him. But all I know is that, he seems sincere in his defense of the controversial constitutional change plan. For he has once told me that, the reason why he wants the constitution to be changed is not to perpetuate Denis Sassou Nguesso in power everlastingly, as claimed by the opposition, civil society organizations and also by some Congolese. According to him, the constitutional change will give Congo a new modern constitution, which will takes into account the new realities in the country. But most importantly he confided to me that, he is campaigning because, he is aware that, if Denis Sassou Nguesso goes, he is also finish along with all those supporting the President. He is sincere in saying that, it is a personal matter and not that of the nation’s interest as they always claim officially. That is a well choreograph response from most supporters of the President who are mindful that, their champion is a spent force that is not wanted any more by the people is this: the constitutional change will give Congo a new modern constitution, which will takes into account the new realities in the country.
Thierry Moungalla is a maniac of cleanliness, modernity and technologically savvy in a country where most of his colleagues don’t know how to use computers, besides a hand few. He must therefore show the world that, he is a real democrat now that he is at the ministry of Communications. Even though working with people who hate free speech and prefers only praise singers, Thierry Moungalla must show his credentials as a liberal albeit working with Communists by allowing the national television and radio stations to be open to all shades of opinions. He should also lift the bans on newspapers and journalists that are rampant in Congo these days. He should help make Congo to stop being a violent police state, where journalists are raped, killed, arrested and expelled willy-nilly, for doing nothing but their job. But can he? Will he have the courage to tell his bosses that, what Congo has really become in term of media freedom? The reality is that, there is no freedom of speech in Congo. Homes of journalists, actors of the civil society and opposition leaders are regularly attacked and their computers stolen by a police headed by Jean Francois Ndenguet. General Jean Francois Ndenguet, who runs two militia organizations namely Gordon Security and Dorsah Security, which pass for security firms, has now transformed the Police into his private, militia.
Thierry Moungalla is working for a government that has cut all subventions to the national press. The national daily Nouvelle Republic and the national Printing press have been destroyed in favor of Les Depeches de Brazzaville, which is a pseudo independent press at the service of the private and personal propaganda of Denis Sassou Nguesso. He is also working for a government, that has ruined the national press and doen’t grants them subventions. The irony is that, the government that Thierry Moungalla is Communications minister hates press freedom and has ban record number of print media outlets and expelled record number of journalists. But currently, in its quest for public relations stunts and also in its insatiable lust for aggrandizement, the government of Congo is not only subsidizing external media such as Vision 4 TV in Cameroon, she is hosting of Africanews, a subsidiary of the pan European broadcaster: Euronews, that is shamelessly supporting a regime that has singled out itself as the north Korea of the CEMAC.
Questions to Africanews
Will Africanews be allowed to be independent? Will they be given a list of people namely: Mathias Dzon, Clement Mierassa, Joe Washington Ebina, Patrick Eric Mampouya and Guy-Romain Kinfossia, that will be barred from Africanews? Will they respect it? Africanews has a still birth because of where they have chosen as their base. And it is a shame to the European who pretends to be custodian of free press to have chosen the heart of press oppression as the base of their African subsidiary. The only other countries within the sub region where freedom of speech is an illusion are: Chad, Equatorial Guinea and Gabon. There paradox with these countries including Congo is that, they are exporting free speech by sponsoring pan African televisions and newspapers but in their respective countries, there is no freedom of Speech. Thierry Moungalla will be judged first on how he runs the National Television and Radio stations abbreviated: CNRTV and secondly, if he will be able to revive the national daily called La Nouvelle Republique and the national printing press. Above all else, he will be judged on how independent he will be and also on how much freedom he will be able to bring Congo back from the brink of pariah status, as far as freedom of speech and free press are concern. His political future hangs in a balance. He must be a reformer.