The State vs. the People. Governance, mining and the transitional regime in the Democratic Republic of CongoDidier Verbruggen, March 2006
27/03/2006 PRESS RELEASE
Netherlands Institute for Southern Africa - Fatal Transactions
Fatal Transactions publishes DR Congo report - The State versus The People
Fair distribution of DRC natural wealth undermined by poor administration and corruption in transitional government
Three years of transitional government in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has led to anything but stability and economic prosperity. The corrupt, ruling political class is, more than anything else, engaged in enriching itself. Based on investigations of the situation in the Congolese province of Katanga, Fatal Transactions demonstrates how members of the government, with the help of international donors such as the World Bank, have profited from the natural wealth of the Congo in recent years, at the expense of the Congolese people.
With elections on the horizon, the international Fatal Transaction campaign wants to shed light on the power structures in the Congolese resource industry. The investigation illustrates how poor policy, political incompetence and corruption have led to the collapse of the formal mining industry. The report gives recommendations for promoting fair and democratic management of the natural resources of the DRC.
Since colonial times, the history of the DRC has been dominated by plundering and lawlessness. In the last century, the colonial government, dictatorial power supported by Cold War forces, national and international corporations, criminal networks and rebel troops have, one after the other, plundered the Congo's natural wealth. Three years after the end of the war, various parties continue the looting of the rich Congolese soil, all the while preventing meaningful reconstruction of the country from ever happening.
On behalf of Fatal Transactions, the International Peace Information Service (IPIS) has studied the relationship between the Congolese political class and the resource sector. In the run-up to the planned democratic elections, the report scrutinizes government policy in the mining sector. One result this investigation reveals is how collaboration between the Congolese government and the World Bank has led to the total collapse of the national copper mining company in Katanga. It is a story of recommendations ignored, corruption, profiteering and political recalcitrance. The province, once one of the most prosperous regions in Africa, is now on the verge of collapse. Every day, tens of thousands of men, women and children try, in the dreadful conditions of the abandoned mines, to scrabble together enough copper and cobalt to buy food for a day. The poverty reinforces ethnic and political tensions.
The goal of the international campaign by Fatal Transactions is to allow natural resources to contribute, in a transparent and just way, to development and reconstruction. It is the conviction of Fatal Transactions that the way in which resources are managed in the DRC can make the difference between new conflict and sustainable peace and development.
Consequently, the campaign calls upon all the leaders of the Congo, the international community and industry to take action. The way the current ruling authorities and potential candidates for the new, democratic government deal with the resource sector is of vital importance to the future of the DR Congo.
Note for editors
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The Netherlands Institute for Southern Africa (NiZA), founded in 1997, is devoted to the democratisation of southern Africa, through the support of partner organisations in the areas of free media, just economic development and the accessibility of human rights. NiZA uses conferences, debates and campaigns to call attention to developments in southern Africa. NiZA also has an extensive information and documentation centre that is largely accessible through our web site. NiZA hosts the national and international secretariat of the Fatal Transactions campaign. www.niza.nl.