By Staff
 Recently, Transparency International (TI) ranked the DRC among the most corrupt states in the word. The level of corruption in the DRC is evident in all aspects of governance to include the mining, aviation, and security sectors and is a significant factor determining the future of the DRC.

According to the Corruption Perception Index (CPI), the DRC ranked sixth, in terms of the highest corruption, out of 163 nations. Regionally, it shares the same score of 2.0 with Sudan. The top spot (worst) was held by Haiti with 1.8 followed by Guinea and Myanmar at 1.9.
Other trends cast doubt on the DRC’s future. For example, the International Monetary Fund (IMF)’s Regional Economic Outlook in September revealed that the DRC per capita Gross Domestic Product (GDP) was at $87 in 2005. This was the lowest GDP in sub-Saharan Africa which is the world’s poorest region with an average GDP per head of $579.
In mid-October, the IMF disclosed that the DRC government overspent the budget from July-September by $94 million (50 billion Congolese francs), or around one percent of GDP.  As a result of the overspending the Congolese franc was weakened.
The franc dropped five percent against the dollar and the total 2006 decline is 28.6 percent.  As expected the weaker franc has fuelled inflation, hiking consumer prices up nearly 14 percent in 2006 and gathering pace, prompting the Central Bank to raise its key interest rate by 10 percentage points to 45 percent.
In the aviation sector DRC is among the countries registering the highest rate of fatal plane crashes.   According to the African Airline Association (AFRAA) Secretary General Folly-Kossi the DRC and Nigeria experienced serious accidents in 2006, with a death toll amounting to 31 fatalities for the DRC, and 98 fatalities for Nigeria, out of the 137 cases registered so far in Africa.

The United Nations Group of Experts on the DRC Arms Embargo has continually cited the DRC for a lack of control of its airspace and improper registration of aircraft. In addition, the DRC has the unique position of having one of the highest number of airlines banned by the European Union from flying into Europe because of poor maintenance and improper regulation.
The mining sector has not escaped the consequences of corruption and mismanagement. GLCSS reported in September problems encountered by miners in the DRC. (See GLCSS News and Analysis 15 September 2006 for the discussion of mining issues). Apart from employing children in mines,    thousands of people in Katanga work as illicit miners, and sell their ore illegally on the black market before it is smuggled across the border into Zambia.   This results in a loss of tax revenue and weakens the rights of legitimate mining companies.

Disputes over mining rights between the foreign mining companies and the Congolese giant State-owned mining company, Gecamines, have been controversial. For example in September, Gecamines was in a dispute with First Quantum Minerals and Kumba Resources.
 As previously reported the dispute followed Gecamines’ invitation for tenders for the development of the Kipushi mine while First Quantum Minerals and Kumba Resources claimed they already had been issued with rights to the same mine.
 Furthermore, the national army (FARDC) and police have been weakened by corruption and human rights abuses. Mismanagement contributed much, in GLCSS opinion, to the lack of regular salary of the armed forces. Moreover, senior officers frequently embezzled funds instead of paying their men.  As a result there has been active involvement of security forces in human rights violations, looting, banditry and other crimes against the Congolese they otherwise are supposed to protect. 

All the political, military and economic published reports should, in GLCSS opinion, convey a strong message to both the transitional and up and coming DRC leadership. The two priorities are for self-criticism regarding corruption and to improve their country management.  More importantly, apart from learning from the Western countries style of governance the DRC can also learn from some African countries which are widely believed to be making progress in various domains of transparency and state-management.  

William Church is director of the Great Lakes Centre for Strategic Studies, a London-based think tank with offices in Central and East Africa. You may contact William Church at GLCSS trains African journalists, offers an on-site internship to foreign African studies students, and manages an exchange program with journalists from the United Kingdom, the United States and Europe.

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