While foreign mining companies are benefiting from the Democratic Republic of Congo’s minerals, its people get nothing. So says Adolphe Muzito (photo), the DRC’s former prime minister under Joseph Kabila from 2008 to 2012, and now an opposition politician.
“The partnership between DRC and China … my country did not get anything out of the Sino Congolaise des Mines (Sicomines) agreement,” Muzito said, referring to a controversial $6 billion resources-for-infrastructure deal agreed by Kabila. “Only $800 million was disbursed but still no infrastructure in sight. This is injustice,” he said in Brussels last week.
Unhappiness about the deal has dragged on, with the current president Félix Tshisekedi calling for a re-examination. The Chinese Foreign Ministry defended it last year, saying roads, hospitals, and other infrastructure had been delivered under the deal. The Sicomines company last year also rolled out a hurried social engagement program in response to the pressure.
Muzito’s comments are a rare show of support for Tshisekedi from the opposition, during an election year. Congo is the world’s largest producer of cobalt, the mineral used in electric cars. Popular pressure is building for the DRC to gain more from the foreign firms that dominate the sector.
It also comes after a DRC court temporarily stripped the Chinese mining giant China Molybdenum of its control over Tenke Fungurume, one of the world’s largest cobalt and copper mines.
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