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EditorialEditorial23 July 20176min0

Global Witness, a British non-profit organisation promoting transparency and accountability, published on 21 July 2017 a report on 750 million USD dollars mining receipts that disappeared from DRC public treasury from 2013 to 2015. In order to better inform the Congolese public opinion, KINSHASATIMES.CD talked to PETER JONES, Global Witness Campaigner on DRC. Full interview is below.

KINSHASATIMES.CD: The report published by Global Witness on 21 July 2017 entitled « Regime Cash Machine » stated that 750 million dollars evaded the DRC public treasury. How did you arrive at this figure?

PETER JONES: We analysed payment data published by the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) and other sources to understand whether mining payments (taxes, royalties etc.) in Congo end up in the national treasury. We found that between 2013 and 2015, $750 million paid into national tax agencies (DGI, DGDA and DGRAD) and Gécamines did not reach the national treasury. It is unclear what has happened to this money.

KINSHASATIMES.CD: How did this money disappear?

PETER JONES: The EITI reports explain quite clearly that the tax agencies retain a percentage of fines “pour leur proper compte”. The evidence we gathered in interviews with businessmen, tax agents, politicians, diplomats and civil society indicated that the money kept back by the tax agencies is the ‘chasse gardée’ of the heads of the agencies, who are linked to Presidency or the Primature.

KINSHASATIMES.CD: You blame this tax evasion on a malfunctioning Congolese tax system. What do you find wrong with this tax system?

PETER JONES: One of the problems we have found with the tax system is that it is too fragmented and complicated. The tax system needs to be simplified and should be more transparent. Also, the system that allows agencies to withhold a percentage of the fines they impose has encouraged predatory behaviour by tax agents. This needs to be stopped.

KINSHASATIMES.CD: The report doesn’t seem kind either towards GECAMINES which it describes as a “real black hole in the Congolese economy”.

PETER JONES: As well as the EITI reports, we analysed leaked documentation and gathered testimony that indicates that money is extracted from Gécamines through suspicious transactions. We look in particular at a series of ‘avances sur fiscalié’ by Gécamines, where it appears to pay over $95 million in advance taxes in the space of just seven months. What is especially strange is that Gécamines instructs BGFI Bank to leave $8 million in cash au guichet. This is very unusual and our sources say this is an “embezzlement operation.” Remember that BGFI is run by Joseph Kabila’s adopted brother, Francis Selemani Mtwale.

KINSHASATIMES.CD: The bulk of the report seems to draw its facts from figures provided by EITI. Yet these figures show that DRC’s efforts to improve transparency in the mining sector are beginning to yield dividends, including 2 billion dollars in mining revenues to the government in 2014. Isn’t that a contradiction?

PETER JONES: EITI has improved transparency in Congo’s mining sector and revenues to the budget did increase each year from 2013 to 2015. We acknowledge this in our report and it is of course a positive step. However the revenues could have increased by much more if one fifth of mining receipts was not being withheld by these opaque agencies: that is what our report is trying to highlight.

KINSHASATIMES.CD: Mining companies operating in the DRC include a lot of offshore shell companies. This does not help with transparency. What are your views about this?

PETER JONES: Global Witness has run a long campaign about offshore secrecy and tax havens. We believe that offshore shell companies are often used as ‘getaway vehicles’ for criminal deals, and the opacity they bring is damaging to an economy. We have campaigned for full beneficial ownership transparency for all companies operating in Congo’s mining sector.

KINSHASATIMES.CD: What recommendations do you make for better contribution of DRC’s mining resources to country’s development?

PETER JONES: As prices increase and huge mining deals are signed, it is more important than ever that the agencies and companies charged with gathering and transferring revenues from Congo’s mining sector operate transparently and in the interests of the Congolese people. If they do not, then Congo’s state auditors, donor governments, international mining companies and civil society must encourage and pressure them to do so. Please read pages 32 and 33 of our report for full details on our recommendations.


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EditorialEditorial1 March 20174min0

Twenty-four hours after awarding the deserving authors, the initiator of “Mikanda Awards” returned to this first edition of the event which will now reward the best Congolese authors, this year. In an interview with KINSHSASATIMES.CD, Déo Vuadi gives his impressions on the progress of the prize-giving ceremony to the winners held at the Wallonie Bruxelles Center in Kinshasa and reveals some prospects for the future.


KINSHASA TIMES:
The first edition of Mikanda Awards took place on February 14, 2017, what impressions do you still have of this first adventure?

DEO VUADI: I keep a satisfactory impression and I bet my team also has the same feedback.

KT: Can we say it was a success? Was the event up to your expectations?

DV: Yes, all the more so because our objective was that the media could make the project popular. That was really the goal for this first edition. It can now be said that the project was a great success.

KT: Most of the award-winning authors are very little known or even unknown to the general public, why did you choose to only prize those?

DV:
We did not choose the authors. There was a call for candidates; there were authors and editors who responded favorably. It’s on this basis that we made a pre-selection and afterwards, the jury members read and gave us the results. The main objective of this project is also to make known some unknown or known writers. To give them visibility, a sort of popularity in the media so that they can better sell their works.

KT: Mikanda Awards I was held on February 14, the day of the lovers’ feast. Was that a message?

DV: [Laughs] No, the date was not decided by us intentionally. It was a partner, the Wallonia Brussels Center, which suggested us that date to organize the award event, and we were only communicating on it and we succeeded in our communication and the event happened.

KT: When is the second edition and what are your prospects for the future?

DV: For the second edition I think that from September and October we will launch the call for applications. In our perspectives we want the event to be much more national than this first, because we had people from Gemena, Kananga from Kikwit, Goma … we want many more cities so that the project can represent the whole territory of DRC, and also that there may be much more communication, and of course for such a project we need more partners and even a lot of sponsors to do better.

The full interview in French can be accessed below


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La RédactionLa Rédaction17 February 201715min0

Several questions arise concerning the succession of Etienne Tshisekedi. From the Presidency of the Union for Democracy and Social Progress (UDPS), the Presidency of the Council of Sages of the Opposition Rally, the National Monitoring Council for the Agreement to the Leadership of the Congolese Opposition, the Sphinx of Limete leaves a vacuum difficult to fill. KINSHASATIMES.CD focused on the after Tshisekedi wa Mulumba during an interview granted him by the economist Noel Tshiani, ideological heir of the Leader Maximo and candidate for the future presidential election in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

KINSHASA TIMES: Tshisekedi was a heavyweight political leader who, through his political commitment, has made a significant contribution in laying the foundations for democracy in the DRC. What do you think will be the implications of his disappearance in the Congolese political scene?

Noel tshiani : Etienne Tshisekedi was actually a political heavyweight in the DRC. He has played a remarkable role in democratization efforts and the advent of the rule of law in the country. It goes without saying that his abrupt disappearance can have major implications in the Congolese political landscape. From the outset, his own political party, the UDPS, will be called upon to face the double challenge of its own survival as a social organization and its position as a spearhead of the ongoing nonviolent political struggle For democratic and constitutional alternation at the top of the state. From the survival of the UDPS also depends that of the Rally of the Opposition as an organized body. The political calculations so far largely based on the consideration of Tshisekedi’s weight on the political scene must be reconsidered in the headquarters of the opposing or allied parties and this could have inevitable consequences on the outcome of the talks (Negotiations moderated by the Catholic Church in DRC [editor’s note]) in progress.

The appointment of a replacement for Tshisekedi as head of the National Monitoring Council for the December 31 Agreement, as well as discussions on the appointment of the Prime Minister, will no longer be considered in the same way as during President Tshisekedi’s lifetime. However, the awakening of political consciousness that currently characterizes the majority of Congolese youth is such that it presents an important weight inherited from the struggle of the Elderly and which no one would be able to control completely. In short, the vacuum left by Etienne Tshisekedi will certainly be difficult to fill in the structures with which he was associated and this, with all the consequences for the balance of power with the now ruling power.

KT : He had to play a key role in the process leading to the signing of the comprehensive and inclusive compromise under the aegis of the Catholic Church in December 2016 and he was to be Chairman of the Council for monitoring the implementation of the Agreement. Virtually a role of surveillance and checks. How will his death affect the rest of the process?

NT : The implementation of the 31 December 2016 agreement, an inclusive agreement for which President Etienne Tshisekedi had fully invested himself during his lifetime, is already undermined by the stalled discussions on certain points of The Special Arrangement, in particular on the question of the appointment of the Prime Minister and the control of key ministerial posts. It is getting worse with his disappearance, given that his wise advice and guidance, as the moral authority of one of the parties involved in the process, is lacking, as they weighed heavily to decant the crisis of the talks in a context also marked by significant divergences within its component on certain issues.

If the appointment of the Elder as head of the Monitoring Council for the Agreement was tailor-made and already symbolized the double concern of easing of tension of the political climate by the relative co-management of the pre-election period and research of the rigor in the monitoring of commitments, it is easy to infer that its sudden disappearance would significantly weaken the Monitoring Council in its effectiveness, putting every possible substitute to the challenge to prove at each trial that it would be as credible and incorruptible as a Etienne Tshisekedi wa Mulumba in the same role. There is no doubt that the opposition can demonstrate maturity by negotiating responsibly and agreeing on the measures to be taken to successfully fill the vacuum left by the illustrious disappeared at the head of the Monitoring Council for the Agreement to ensure its effectiveness.

KT : It is an established fact in Congolese politics that political parties do not survive their leaders. What is your opinion on the future of UDPS, the party of Tshisekedi, after the death of its leader?

NT : In general, since the country’s independence to date, political parties in the DRC have been struggling, even during the lifetime of their charismatic leaders, as long as they are not related in any way to the power in place. The issue of the financing of political parties in the DRC is still unresolved, while the authoritarian regimes that have so far succeeded continue to lead a hard life to the opposition political parties: duplication of parties, debauchery of influential members , Arbitrary arrests, blackmail, etc. And even more so when the leader disappears, things become even more complicated: if they do not survive with much less influence on the terrain than during their moral authority, the “orphan” political parties are indeed doomed to disappear or to break up. The ABAKO of Kasa-Vubu, the MNC / Lumumba of Patrice Lumumba, MPR – private property of Mobutu, as well as the UFERI of Nguz a Karl-I-Bond, and we pass, do not seem to have resisted this hard reality.

KT : So that will also be the case for the UDPS, isn’t it?

NT : Things are not so automatic for all parties. Indeed, if the UDPS has repeatedly found itself on the verge of the break-up during its leader’s life time and survived, it is not only the fact of the radiance or charisma of the person of Etienne Tshisekedi. The endurance of the UDPS is also and above all the fact of the broad support that this party enjoys on behalf of the majority of the Congolese population because of the accuracy and the nobility of its long and painful political struggle: the fight for Democracy, the rule of law and the well-being of the Congolese people. I appeal to all the cadres of this party to remain calm during the Party Congress which will definitely determine its new leaders to pursue the noble struggle of the Limete Sphinx by placing the interests of the people above all else. The UDPS is a big party. Its survival is important for the democratization of the country and as a counterweight to the ruling power. My hope is that future leadership will bring together all the different factions of the party to put themselves in order of battle for the upcoming presidential, legislative and local deadlines.

KT : In general, how do you assess Tshisekedi’s role in bringing about democratic change in the DRC? Can we say that he was successful? If not, what could he have done otherwise?

NT : The correctness of the noble struggle of Etienne Tshisekedi has been largely favored by the permanent dictatorial drifts suffered by the people of the DRC from the Second Republic to this day. The constancy of this struggle, which some have rightly or wrongly assimilated to “radicalism”, is in this respect a reply to the persistence of these aberrations and their adverse effects on the economic and social life of the Congolese.
This constancy was punctuated by moments of great frustration: arrests, intimidations, relegations … and episodes of relative relaxation (Marble Palace Agreement 1 & 2, Sovereign National Conference, Sun City Dialogue, New Year’s Eve Agreement, etc.). Moreover, the fight of Etienne Tshisekedi throughout these different episodes was not only a success or failure for his person. It was above all a source of inspiration and a model for the new generations.

KT : Did he still have some influence on youth in recent years?

NT : Yes of course. The advent and easy rise of citizen movements in civil society circles throughout the Republic (Filimbi or Lucha among others) must, among other causes, be explained by the same factors as those which Have justified the political struggle of Etienne Tshisekedi. Consequently, this struggle certainly had the merit of influencing the one in which the said movements now appear to be engaged. If the people are already taking charge, we can only associate this with Tshisekedi’s struggle without, of course, underestimating the invaluable contribution of the Diaspora and other actors involved in the peaceful struggle for change in our country.

KT : Do you think that his death could play a role in favor of the power and lead it to renege its commitments, in particular on the limitation of the mandates for Joseph Kabila?

NT : The vacuum created by the death of Etienne Tshisekedi will certainly influence the political calculations both in the staffs of the Power and in those of the opposition. Under these new conditions, it is possible that the opportunistic adjustments of both parties lead to a curious reconfiguration of power relations to the point of endangering the Agreement of 31 December 2016 and the current round of negotiations on The peaceful and consensual management of the pre-election period. But as the death of Etienne Tshisekedi does not change either the Constitution or the New Year’s Eve, any attempt to violate these two tools will certainly find the people on their way. The different rounds of negotiations arising from the non-organization of elections within the limits and conditions laid down by the Constitution have had the unsuspected power to convey a pedagogical message for the population. The latter is increasingly convinced that it is the last bulwark of respect for the constitutional order and that it has the historical mission to weigh with all its weight for this.

In this respect, Etienne Tshisekedi climbed several times to the niche to invite the raging populations to restraint. Now that he has gone, we must call on the government and the opposition to be cautious and circumspect, because anything can happen with incalculable consequences for the stability of the country and the future of our population.

KT : Any final word?

NT : The fight started by Etienne Tshisekedi wa Mulumba is not over yet. It will not end until the DRC is a functioning democracy, a rule of law, an island of peace and shared prosperity, a country where good governance promotes sustainable development and equitably shares national wealth. The fight is not over as long as corruption, tribalism, favoritism, conflicts of interest, betrayals, predation of national wealth and the theft of public goods continue to undermine the country’s economic and social development. The struggle is not over as long as a minority oppresses the majority of our compatriots by flouting individual and collective freedoms. We will continue this fight until the final victory, which will make the DRC a stable, prosperous and equitable country that we could bequeath to our children and grandchildren in the same way that Etienne Tshisekedi bequeathed to us Courage and determination to assume ourselves.


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La RédactionLa Rédaction13 February 20175min0

Former Minister of Relations with Parliament, Tryphon Kin Kiey Mulumba publicly stated in an interview with Congolese National Radio Television: “We have over-personalized the CENCO agreement on the Tshisekedi person. Now that God has taken him back … this agreement no longer has any legitimacy … The MP can go as quickly as possible to the popular consultations “. Known for his shattering media outlets, Tryphon Kin Kiey Mulumba once again reflected out loud. May be several other executives of the Presidential Majority believe with him. A view that departs from the current political phase in the DRC.

Etienne Tshisekedi was a bearer of the aspirations of the Congolese people, which can be summarized in a constant desire to see the establishment of a political regime in the DRC that is not only democratic but capable of not only abolishing, reducing poverty, Suffering, its rate of chapping exacerbated, but also, why not, increase its GDP that closes the list of those around the world. These evils make up the words that Congolese use to make sentences, which express their desire to witness a change of system.

The fighter for democracy ended his stay on earth, however, what he fought for most of his political career will not leave with him in his sepulcher. Poverty, unemployment, injustice and insecurity will continue to erode the Congolese society after Etienne Tshisekedi. The decision of the Congolese people to fight against a ruling class that plunges it into misery has shown more than once that the Congolese no longer have any limits in the quest for the assurance of its survival.

2015, the street sulks the street chief

Etienne Tshisekedi was for many Congolese a myth, a sage, a gentleman who knew everything he said and did, to such a degree that his followers even believed in his mistakes. But for one of the few times, the Congolese, mainly the Kinois, said NO to the appeal of the sage of the tenth street of Limete, to fight at the cost of their blood, paragraph 2 of the article 8 of the electoral law presented to the national assembly by the then Minister of the Interior, Evariste Boshab and voted by the national deputies.

At this precise moment the head of the Union for Democracy and Social Progress disapproves of the marches initiated by the Dynamics of the opposition and calls the socio-political actors get around a discussion table to resolve the electoral crisis, and pave the way for future elections. His heavy voice could not weigh enough to the protesters’ ears. Only the withdrawal of paragraph 2 of the electoral law by the Senate managed to calm down the inflamed street. The failure of the draft electoral law in 2015 undoubtedly revealed to the world how far the Congolese people are able to go in their fight.

Resolution 2277, another obstacle to the referendum in the DRC

March 29, 2016, the UN Security Council held by the five veto-holding powers affirmed its determination to maintain peace in the DRC, without which the Great Lakes Region would collapse in the KO. This resolution, labeled dicta, attributed, or almost, the police authority to elements of MONUSCO to ensure its presence on land to avoid, at election time, the slippages of the Congolese power.

Moreover, the same resolution challenged the Congolese political actors of the majority and the opposition to dialogue to organize elections in accordance with the Congolese constitution. By making a sort of substitution of the Congolese National Police (PNC) by the UN forces and by evoking the respect of the constitution, which are questions of the internal policy of the DRC, the UN Security Council clearly shows that ‘it is not willing to let the Congolese executive lead things as it sees fit.

This United Nations body, which, however, remained an observer on the Congolese and Rwandan constitutional revisions, monitors the political situation in the DRC in a constant manner, constantly insisting on the alternation to power. The video conference it had with the Catholic Bishops, mediators of the negotiations of the Interdiocesan Center in Kinshasa, is a telling proof of the impatience of the Security Council to reap the benefits of its approach initiated since almost a year.