Alphonsine Kalume Asengo Cheusi is forging a new path for women in the Democratic Republic of Congo as she is the first woman in the history of the country to be appointed a member of the constitutional court, an otherwise male-dominated court made up of nine judges. She was selected from the quota of the Superior Council of the Magistracy (CSM) and was sworn in on Wednesday with two others.
Born in Kalemie on May 9, 1955, Cheusi is originally from the province of Maniema. She is a family woman, married with five children. She is not the only one in her family with a legal background, her husband is a magistrate.
Her entry into the high court is a remarkable feat although not surprising. She has been a magistrate for years. Cheusi attained her state diploma in 1974 and in 1983, she graduated from the University of Kinshasa (UNIKIN) with a degree in degree in Economic Law.
She has served her country in various capacities, first as the head of the Unique Division of the Right Freedom and Citizen Department in 1987. Two years down the line, Cheusi got a provisional appointment as the Magistrate by order of judicial organization. In that same year, 1989, she was made the first deputy prosecutor and assigned to the Kalamu prosecutor’s office.
Cheusi was made an Advisor to the Supreme Court of Justice in 2013 and in 2018, Advisor to the Council of State. The three new appointees, Cheusi, Kamulete Badibanga Dieudonné, and Kaluba Dibwa Dieudonné were sworn in before the President of the Republic, Félix Tshisekedi. They swore their loyalty to the constitution of the Republic and promised to serve in the interest of the nation and not their own interests.
The judges must therefore live by the oath. “I solemnly swear, to fulfill loyally and faithfully the functions of member of the Constitutional Court of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, to exercise them in all impartiality, with respect for the Constitution, to keep the secret of deliberation and to vote, not to take any public position, not to give any private consultation on matters falling within the jurisdiction of the Constitutional Court, and not to undertake any activity that calls into question the independence of impartiality and the dignity of the Court. ”
President Tshisekedi hopes the three judges will do their jobs well. The constitution of DRC like all other constitutions wields a lot of power.
It is what validates candidatures for the presidential election and national legislative elections. It has the final say on results and adjudicates when there are electoral disputes. So, appointments of judges are always carefully made in the interest of the country.