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The DRC at 50: confronting the challenges of peace and territorial consolidation
Petrus de Kock
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On 30 June 2010 the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) celebrated 50 years of independence from colonial rule. At 50, the country is torn between competing and contradictory internal forces as it tries to negotiate a path towards self understanding, internal cohesion and responsible behaviour. At this landmark point in its postcolonial trajectory, the DRC needs to confront the old wounds that are continuing to create new policy challenges in its complex political economic environment.
This briefing therefore, addresses some of the salient domestic and foreign policy issues facing the country at this stage, namely the consolidation of borders, the pursuit of territorial integrity, the need to develop governance structures in areas where the state remains weak, and the continuing conflict that is impacting on resource extraction.
This paper provides the following findings:
At a national level, significant attention is being directed towards the DRC’s policy of decentralisation and the constitutionally accepted principle of increasing the number of provinces in the country.
While the internal debate over decentralisation rages on, it is becoming clear that the significant oil and natural gas deposits located in territories where the DRC shares borders with Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and Tanzania are causing these locations to fast become potential flashpoints in regional relations.
Insecurity exists for international business actors, who face difficulties regarding contracts and licences. For example, in 2009, the DRC government suspended construction operations at the Kingamyambo Musonoi Tailings project following a mining contract review.
This paper also provides the following recommendations:
Simple and affordable governance solutions to establish state authority in conflict zones have to be developed.
Corporations that desire to enter the DRC’s resource sectors should be aware of the complications that may arise when negotiating contracts and licences to operate and the National Assembly’s Commission on Natural Resources & Tourism should be capacitated through the provision of research support.
The National Assembly’s Commission on Natural Resources & Tourism should be capacitated through the provision of research support. Such interventions will strengthen its oversight role and its capacity to hold executive authorities and corporations accountable for decisions regarding access to mining, oil and forestry resources.
Policymakers in the DRC note that human resources are available to monitor the illegal trade in minerals in eastern DRC. However, the lack of communication links between Kinshasa and the eastern DRC complicate efforts to curtail such trade.