Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Aid and Mobutism in the Congo

We made it out of the DRC and were just on time for X-mas.  It will take some time to 'digest' it all. As before Gerard Prunier helps to shed light on the situation (including the craziness we went through to leave) the Congo:

„With an insufficient tax base and a negative balance of trade, public finances still rely heavily on aid (over 40 percent). Whatever is not in the peasant self-produced and nearly nonmonetary sector of the economy is under direct foreign perfusion. The only services available to the people are foreign-created, foreign-run, and foreign-financed. The UN and NGOs together spend $3 billion a year running hospitals, providing transport, paying the army, and supporting the school system. The only media organ with a national reach, Radio Okapi, is a UN-NGOs joint venture.
But one of the main problem of this aid, a problem typical of many post conflict situations but particularly preoccupying here, is the very poor coordination between projects and implementing agencies. Duplication, confusion, and waste are rife. This lack of coordination is particularly damaging because of the endless levels of corruption typical of the DRC. This is probably where the consequences of the thirty two years of Mobutism as a system implied and presupposed corruption, even elevating corruption to the level of an institution. This created a political and administrative culture wherein the stealing of government funds was seen as normal, even praiseworthy; civil servants would boast to each other of their achievements in theft. This culture has survived Mobutu and is still causing havoc in the economy today. The problem is not only a moral one, it is a financial and economic one; the extent of corruption is such that the government is largely economically dysfunctional. The coexistence of middle-ranking civil servants paid $50/month working in parastatal companies under bosses who are often paid up to $15,000/month (and who steal quite a bit beyond these opulent salaries) has a demoralizing effect on the workforce".

Its a complicated story, with no easy answers. For me the Congo was 'a hell of an experience' but its not easy to see a way forward.

Africa's World War: Congo, the Rwandan Genocide, and the Making of a Continental Catastrophe (

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