Home EMU alum newly appointed Congolese interim deputy national security advisor

EMU alum newly appointed Congolese interim deputy national security advisor


congoLawyer Zihindula Mulegwa, MA ’05 (conflict transformation), left studies in Kansas to assume a government post in the Democratic Republic of Congo. He’ll work on dialogues between political leaders to improve the electoral process. As founder and director of the Center for Political and Strategic Studies (known by its French acronym, CEPOST), Mulegwa helped to facilitate the country’s first political debates in 2006. (EMU photo)

When the academic year began, Zihindula Mulegwa, MA ’05 (conflict transformation), was in Topeka, Kansas, working on a Master of Laws degree in corporate and business law at Washburn University. A practicing lawyer from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Mulegwa was planning to spend the year working on this specialized degree, focusing on the international petroleum market.

Those plans were suddenly shelved in October, though, when duty called: Congolese President Joseph Kabila asked Mulegwa to become his interim deputy national security advisor.

“My work is focused on the national dialogue between the opposition, the civil society and the government,” Mulegwa wrote in an email to his former professor Howard Zehr at Eastern Mennonite University. “[It’s] not an easy task. We are now working to ensure that these fellows get together to decide the country’s future at the end of the current president’s constitutional term in December 2016.”

Although Mulegwa’s position in the government now is new for him, he has been closely involved with Congolese politics and elections for more than a decade. From 2002 to 2004, soon after President Kabila first took office, he served as Kabila’s official spokesperson. In 2005 – the same year he finished his coursework at the Center for Justice and Peacebuilding – Mulegwa founded a think-tank called the Center for Political and Strategic Studies (known by its French acronym, CEPOST).

Through CEPOST, Mulegwa and his colleagues organized dialogues between civil society groups, NGOs, the Congolese government and foreign diplomats on various issue of importance to the country. Leading up to national elections in the DRC in 2006, CEPOST also sponsored the country’s first political debates between candidates. The group sponsored similar debates in prior to national elections in 2011. While he remains president of the organization, Mulegwa had since turned over day-to-day responsibilities to spend more time working in corporate law.

This next round of elections – in which a constitutional term limit bars President Kabila from running again – are scheduled for November 2016. Mulegwa is once again closely involved with the process, although this time, it’s as a government official.

“My [assignment] focuses on a planned political dialogue designed to bring together different political leaders to discuss ways to improve the electoral process in the country,” he wrote. “[I am working] to ensure that we organize an all inclusive dialogue, which will deal with issues such as voter registration and other important issues affecting our people.”

Because Mulegwa was appointed to his new post on an interim basis, there isn’t a specific timeline for how long he’ll remain in it. Whenever it ends, he tells EMU, he looks forward to finishing his studies at Washburn and returning to his law practice.

– Story by Andrew Jenner



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