063_Global12_InFocus_DRC_V8

Global issue 12

In FocusTh e Democratic Republic of Congo originate in the 32-year reign of Mobutu Key dataMost of the ills of Congo’s economy Sese Seko. Shortly after the country be-  Population: 73,599,190 (July 2012 est.) came independent from Belgium in 1960,  Ethnic groups: Over 200 ethnic groups, Mobutu took power during a coup and es- tablished a dictatorship that slowly crippled Sudan the four largest of which – Mongo, Luba,CAR Kongo and Mangbetu-Azande – make the economy. Although at the beginning of up about 45% of the population his rule industrial mining and agriculture were fl ourishing, presaging a bright future Kisangani• Uganda  Literacy: 66.8%Rep. Congo came incontrollable – in total, according to DRC Bukavu• Burundi  Capital: Kinshasa (pop: 8.4 million)Rwanda: 56 yearsLife expectancy•Goma for Congo, Mobutu’s greed in the 1970s be- Transparency International, he could have •Kinshasa  Land area: 2,344,858 km2 stolen over $5 billion from the state coffers. Mbuji-Mayi• Tanzania On top of sinking Congo into debt, the  GDP: $14.77 billion (2011 est.) kleptocracy Mobutu established to satisfy  GNI per capita: $320 his decadent lifestyle corrupted society at Angola  Main exports: diamonds, gold, copper, all levels. One of Mobutu’s most enduring •Lubumbashi cobalt, wood products, crude oil, coffee legacies is the infamous Article 15, his ad- Zambia vice to the population and state employees who were rarely paid to “help themselves” Ponyo as prime minister in April this year ing the business climate. (“débrouillez-vous”). The notion that cor- has been seen as a positive sign, however. In September, Congo became a member ruption is okay because no one, including Matata is a technocrat with a solid reputa- of the Organisation for the Harmonisation the state, will help you to survive, has be- tion. He was the fi nance minister in the pre- of Business Law in Africa, a measure that come engrained in the country’s mentality vious government and successfully man- Matata described as an “important step” – whether it be an administration employee that will make the country attractive to for- ment, a journalist taking an envelope from Most of the Democratic the problem is in the implementation. Ifeign investors. But as so often with Congo, asking for a fee to simply stamp a docu- an offi cial “to cover transport costs”, or a Republic of Congo’s the government seems to be making real minister receiving a suitcase full of dollars efforts, the lower ranks of the administra- to grant an estate. economic ills originate tion do not seem to be following. “Matata is Mobutu’s dismissal in 1997 was fol- putting in place a new culture, a new open in the 32-year reign of lowed by a decade-long war that completed vision. But he can have all the good will in the delinquency of the state: millions of Mobutu. Transparency the world, the rest must follow,” says John people were displaced and died, infrastruc- Kanyoni, a member of the Congolese Busi- ture crumbled, resources were pillaged by International estimates ness Federation. armed groups, functioning state institutions that he could have stolen Little progress has been made regarding became a long-gone memory and Congo’s fi ghting corruption, partly due to the lack of economy reached ground zero. over $5 billion from the independent judiciary. But the biggest ob- Since his rise to power in 2001, Joseph stacle to Matata’s plans now is the confl ict Kabila has done little to rebuild the coun- state coff ers that has restarted in the east and is drain- try. The cities’ main roads are not paved, ing state resources and energies. In North electricity and running water are luxuries, aged to stabilise infl ation and the exchange Kivu, where most of the fi ghting is taking most of what should be state services are rate, and negotiate a $12 billion debt re- place, many business projects have been provided by foreign NGOs and the UN, duction with international creditors. His postponed and border trading posts closed. and long-term development plans tapping economic programme has been based on Even if the government manages to im- into Congo’s natural resources are un- austerity, fi ghting corruption and improv- prove the business climate and generate dermined by state-level corruption. “The income for the state, the population needs government does not really have a politi- to see the benefi ts. Despite growth averag- cal organisation that can work throughout ing 6 percent every year, unemployment the country, nor does it have a plan,“ says remains above 80 percent. Most people Dr Gabi Hesselbein, a specialist on Con- make do with informal jobs such as sell- go’s economic resource mobilisation at ing phone credit or vegetables in the street. the London School of Economics. “There Basic state services are mostly inexist- is no comprehensive plan for agriculture, ent or supported by foreign aid. Matata, and certainly no industrial policy. In min- whose name means ‘problem’ in Swahili, ing and logging, the Wild West has to stop has his hands full and most likely does not in order to make sure that money is earned have all the answers.uni25CF and invested into these sectors to improve them. But corruption in the DRC starts at the very highest level, that is the govern- ment.” Mélanie Gouby is a freelance journalist based The appointment of Augustin Matata Augustin Matata could turn the economy around in eastern Congo globalfourth quarter 2012 www.global-briefing.org l63


Global issue 12
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