DRC - Government offensive against opposition media outlets

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) condemns the closure of La Voix du Katanga, the third broadcaster to be shut down by the authorities in the strategic southeastern city of Lubumbashi since the start of the year.

The authorities of the newly-formed province of Haut-Katanga announced the closure on 11 March. “This station has not paid its annual dues and does not even have a broadcasting licence,” a senior Haut-Katanga official told Agence France-Presse.

This was denied by the head of La Voix du Katanga, who insisted that its papers were up to date and that the closure was politically motivated. The radio and TV station belongs to Gabriel Kyungu wa Kumwanza, one of the leaders of G7, a coalition formed last September to oppose any attempt by President Joseph Kabila to run for a third term.

“For the third time in six weeks, Katanga has seen the closure of a media outlet that does not toe the government line,” said Cléa Kahn-Sriber, the head of RSF’s Africa desk.

“This seems to be becoming the systematic method for preventing any criticism from being broadcast in this very rich province, which is highly strategic for the government in Kinshasa. We call on the authorities to prove the allegations made against La Voix du Katanga or, failing that, to reopen the station at once.”

RSF previous condemned the 28 January closure of two opposition TV station owned by Moïse Katumbi, Katanga’s former governor, who used to be a leading member of the ruling party but recently changed sides.

During a visit to the Democratic Republic of Congo last month, UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon voiced concern about the restriction of political space in the country.

The DRC is ranked 150th out of 180 countries in RSF’s 2015 World Press Freedom Index.