Shake Down or Down With the People
The Congolese government accelerated the mining review process and gave the 60 odd companies whose contracts were under review until February 26, 2008 to respond to the assessment by the review panel.
Victor Kasongo, Deputy Minister of Mines said all the contracts established during the war and the transition process were flawed and had to be renegotiated.
A great deal of uncertainty looms over the process however. Although individual companies were given the review results of their respective contracts, no public release of the review has been made to date. The Congolese parliament has not been engaged in the process to serve an oversight role and represent the interest of the Congolese people. No structure has been established for civil society organizations to be engaged. The Financial Times reported that "behind closed door" deals may be being struck as the Congo government seeks more cash. Is the government using this process as a cash grab or is it genuinely interested in the Congolese people finally benefiting from the wealth of their country?
Thus far, there are no benchmarks that would indicate that the acceleration of the review process was done in the interest of the people of the Congo. According to a coalition of Non-Government Organizations, there are a lot of questions yet to be answered. Read about outstanding questions here...
What seems to be unfolding is that the government has its favorites and will sell out the Congolese people's wealth to its favorites while posturing and playing hardball with those companies that are in disfavor or lack the necessary connections to the elite who will undoubtly fill their pockets from the latest shake down in the name of the Congolese people.