by Elco B
Thu Jul 13th, 2006 at 08:41:01 AM EST
International companies and local elites in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) are pocketing revenues from copper and cobalt production instead of sharing it with local communities or spending it to reduce poverty. This is a nice sentence, written by Emad Mekay in his article from today released by IPS.. It is a summary of a report by Global Witness on the ongoing pillage of DR Congo.
Local mining in Katanga.
***back from front page
Some time ago talos wrote a story about The Invisible Congo Tragedy. His well documented story gave a overview of the actual situation in DR Congo in the light of the elections to be held on 24 July.
In the discussionthread it became clear that the problems are overwhelming and little is known about what is really going on in that country.
DR Congo is a big, big country: for an idea:the distance between Matadi and Bunia is about the same as Paris - Moskou. Not an easy task to run such a vast country. They had a war during years, total lack of infrastructure, corruption and still troubles big enough to trigger the largest UN intervention (MONUC)
of today, and on top of that a European Battlegroup has now operational headquarters in Kinshasa (Operation EUFOR RD Congo).
The reoport released by Global Witness only reveals what's going on in the cupper and cobalt mining.
From their press release from 5/6/2006:
"In the run-up to elections, politicians and companies have been scrambling to get their hands on ever-greater shares of the lucrative mineral trade, with little or no regard for the welfare of the Congolese population," said Patrick Alley, Director of Global Witness. "The plunder of the DRC's natural resources continues to undermine the country's opportunities for peace, stability and development."
Global Witness's research confirmed entrenched patterns of illicit exports of minerals across the DRC-Zambia border, with government and security officials either turning a blind eye to false or inaccurate export certificates, or actively colluding with trading companies to circumvent control procedures. Large quantities of minerals are leaving the country undeclared, representing a huge loss for the Congolese economy - but a vast gain for a small number of powerful actors. The big influx of foreign companies pouring into Katanga since 2004 has presented yet more opportunities for the political elite to enrich itself.
Global Witness also documented the harsh labour conditions in the artisanal mines, the complete absence of safety precautions and the failure of both the government and companies to take responsibility for the health and safety of tens of thousands of artisanal miners.
"Scores of miners have died in 2005 alone, mostly when trapped under collapsing mineshafts," said Patrick Alley. "No one is investigating these deaths or taking action to prevent further accidents. The government seems indifferent to their plight and trading companies are happy to continue buying products mined in these conditions in the full knowledge that miners are risking their lives every day.
Resentment is growing among the population of Katanga as they see vast profits flowing out of the country with no change in their own economic situation. An artisanal miner in Katanga told Global Witness: "We know that the Congo is rich. But despite this, we don't even have enough to eat. Only one category of people profits."
The report contains lots of figures, names of investors and shows in detail how an elite in DR Congo enriches themselves and how the hunt from other country's for raw materials is going on.
The Congolese people again are the victims. Colonialism is replaced by Globalisation.
The report (PDF) available in Eng. and French.