August 15, 2008

A Glittering Demon: Mining, Poverty and Politics in the Democratic Republic of Congo

Filed under: Mwalimu (Vol 1.2. - Second Quarter 2008) — newritings @ 1:00 pm

Article by Michael Deibert, Special to CorpWatch
June 26th, 2008

In the heart of the war-scarred Ituri region in northeastern Congo, some 200 mud-covered men pan for traces of gold in the muddy brown waters.

Working for the Congolese owners of Manyida camp, the miners are following a map of the site made by the Belgians, the country’s former colonial rulers.

“It’s very difficult, punishing work,” says Adamo Bedijo, a 32 year-old university graduate from the central city of Kisangani. “We are not paid, we work until we hit the vein of gold and hope that will pay us…The government has abandoned us, so I am forced to endure all this suffering.”

Bedijo is one of Ituri’s estimated 70,000 artisanal miners, some of whom are former employees of state mining concerns that collapsed during the country’s long-running civil war. Two years after the first democratic elections in 40 years, informal arrangements such as Manyida are operating alongside the many foreign multinationals rushing in to tap the Democratic Republic of Congo’s (DRC) extensive mineral resources.

The way foreign multinationals have gained entry into Congo, and the business methods they use, raise significant questions for a nation at historic crossroads. Will the DRC move forward to become more responsive to its nearly 67 million people scattered across an area as large as Western Europe, or will the tradition of rape-as-governance continue?



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