Controlling foreign and local Press
After they have succeeded in controlling the media at home, Congolese government through the ruling Nguesso family have developed a sleek scheme to control how foreign media do report about the country or the way the country is being managed by the Nguessos. More about the government strategy to control the press at home and abroad will be developed in greater details below. However, the scheme put in place by the Nguessos to control the press locally and internationally has succeeded. This is so because the Congolese government is succeeding in misinforming the world about the true reality of the country: politically, socially and economically. It is sadly the same strategy they have used to destroy and weaken opposition parties and also civil society organisations within the country. The manipulative media strategy put in place by the ruling Nguesso family to misinform the world is known as operation: “Koteka Mboka Te” or “Koteka Ekolo Te” in Lingala, and in English: “Don’t betray the fatherland”.
This is how “Koteka Mboka Te” or “Koteka Ekolo Te”
Through this scheme, the Congolese government encourages most foreign media houses: Radio France International (rfi), Voice of America (VOA), British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) and Agence France Presse (AFP) to work in the country only with local stringers. In case the aforementioned media houses may desire to send foreign correspondents to Brazzaville, the process to obtain accreditation or visa is way too long and intentionally made to be complicated. And the immediate consequence is that, the cumbersome bureaucracy ends up discouraging media houses and consequently, they end up opting or inadvertently supporting the government’s strategy. Most western media houses easily fall prey to Congolese government’s communications manipulative strategy because these days, the trend in most western media houses is to cut cost. The Congolese government’s manipulative strategy is made more appealing, because it is accompanied with a formidable propaganda that goes thus: “local stringers know and understand best the country”. It is true that, local stringers may master the political, social and economic environment better, but as earlier mentioned, the underlying motive of the government is to direct the narrative of how the country and its government activities are reported. To back up my claims, I have observed while in Congo that, immediately the government has the list of regular stringers working for foreign media houses, these stringers are enlisted onto the payroll of the Communications department of the presidency of the Republic and are paid a monthly stipend of FCFA 500 thousand or $ 700. This sum excludes extra payment or allowances paid to stringers in case they accompany the President or government ministers to cover certain events in the interior of the country. In the Republic of Congo Brazzaville, the department of Communications of the presidency of the Republic is headed by Claudia Sassou Nguesso, the daughter of President Denis Sassou Nguesso. By opting to offer monthly salaries to stringers working for western media houses abovementioned, it is Congolese government’s own sleek attempt at controlling news coming out of the country. This method is a success, given that, most often than not, what comes out from Congo from local stringers, are good news stories or the under reporting of atrocities such as the current situation in the Pool region.