Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Mrs Claudine Munari Mabondzou: Profile of a Presidential candidate

Until her recent dismissal from the government, she was minister of Commerce.  Mrs Claudine Munari Mabondzou, who is Member of Parliament, is also the leader of a political party called Movement pour L’Unite, la Solidarite et le Travail abbreviated in French as MUST or in English: Movement for Unity, Solidarity and Labour. Mrs Munari who was formerly married to a Cameroonian lawyer by name Emmanuel Pensy is a subject of all kinds of fantasies and suspicions, especially from her women folk. She is sometimes referred to as a spy or a professional political whore or both. Hence the nickname Mata Hari and Mrs Genevieve Ngouassi, a journalist and former Directress General of the state owned Tele Congo, calls: her a “genocidaire”, because of her close link with former President Pascal Lissouba. Logically, it was normal for her to be close to the former president because, she was her Directress of Cabinet or chief of staff. But according to some people close to the only post independent democratically elected president of Congo, Claudine Munari was brought closer to the President by Martin Mberi, Christophe Moukoueke and Tamba- Tamba, all ethnic Bembes, who wanted to control Pascal Lissouba, who was also from the south but from a minority tribe known as the nzembis. While most political elite in Congo are of the opinion that, Claudine Munari was not only the mistress of president Pascal Lissouba, they also claim, she was the architect of his political fall. This, it must be said  are normal Congolese rumours that have never been substantiated, at least at my level by people that, I have met. Lambert Ngalibali, former minister of public works under President Pascal Lissouba and former Lord Mayor of the Brazzaville city council, who knows Mrs Munari very well, told me in 2008, when he was the guest of  my programme called La Grande Interview in Paris, France that, Claudine Munari was indeed very close to former President Pascal Lissouba. But he never told me nor confirmed to me whether she was the girl friend or mistress of the only democratically elected President of post independent Congo. But the rumour mill in Brazzaville has another salacious story about her.  

It is claimed that, she owns her current or former post of minister of Commerce because she had affairs with both President Denis Sassou Nguesso and Jean Dominique Okemba. Mr Okemba is the nephew of the President and also holds the dual functions of special adviser to his uncle and secretary general of the National Security Council. The Brazzaville rumour mill also has it that, it is because she betrayed former president Pascal Lissouba and the UPADS, the former ruling party, that she was rewarded with a ministerial post by current president Denis Sassou Nguesso. In Congo, the land of professional liars, it is almost impossible to distinguish truths from lies or outright manipulations or even blackmail. However, none of those rumours have been proven, for  as already mentioned, the Republic of Congo is a republic of professional liars, blackmail, character assassinations and defamation. The attitudes of dragging down people’s image in the mud or being smeared by opponents or detractors have been given or elevated into an art in the former Marxist country. Furthermore, politics in Congo and power struggle are always very salacious. It is also a country where most women believe that, she must exchange sex for favour or position. Hence there are wild stories around Mrs Munari, because many can’t come to term that, she is where she is today because of hard work and not via any tribal connections or sexual favours.

Claudine Munari is really very beautiful and intelligent, that is also perhaps the other reason why most wives of influential members of the government are jealous of her and may also be amongst those spreading false rumours about her. The truth is that, she got her position within the government because of the influence that she commands within her region and also because of the desire of President Denis Sassou Nguesso for national reconciliation after the 1997 brief but brutal civil war that ended the reign of Pascal Lissouba. I have met her a number of times, but the only time that we spoke at length was on the 6th of August 2014 in the Hallway of Four Season Hotel in Washington DC. I noticed on that day, that, while she was minister working in the government of President Denis Sassou Nguesso; she never supported how the country was being governed. She asked me this question: “where do you gather the courage to work independently, the way you are working?” And she added: “I hope that, they will allow you to continue with the way that you are doing your job. She concluded: But know that, there are many Congolese supporting what you are doing professionally”. On that, day, I was in the Hallway of the Washington DC Hotel with Mampassi Ngoma Rech Chadon aka Ted Koppel and Olga Tchitembo. Both journalists working for the privately owned Congolese Television called MNTV. Claudine Munari is a woman to be counted upon in Congolese politics and her political capital can live beyond the current regime. While Claudine Munari is courageous, intelligent and independent minded and has created a reputation for herself, it is not the case with Mrs Adelaide Mouagny, another woman in government.

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