KINSHASA (The Southern African Times) – DR Congo President Felix Tshisekedi has called for a review of mining contracts signed with China in 2008 by his predecessor, saying he wanted to get fairer deals.
The central African nation is seeking what it says is a fairer share of its vast mineral wealth, much of which is plundered by rebel groups, militias and corrupt officials. A statement after a cabinet meeting on Friday said Tshisekedi called for the “technical and financial details of Sino-Congolese contracts” at the next meeting.
“DRCongo is sorely lacking in infrastructure and this hampers its development,” a statement following the cabinet meeting said, adding that the contracts signed with China in 2008 were aimed at financing giant infrastructure projects. Former president Joseph Kabila, who held power from 2001 to 2019, negotiated a highly contentious agreement with the Chinese in 2008 – copper and cobalt in exchange for infrastructure for $9 billion.
But the deal was reduced to two thirds of that amount under pressure from the International Monetary Fund, which noted the severe impact it had on the country’s finances. To date, about $2.74 billion has been disbursed by the Chinese so far.
During a visit to the mining town of Kolwezi in May, Tshisekedi announced his intention to renegotiate mining contracts, particularly those concluded by his predecessor Joseph Kabila. “It is not normal that those with whom the country has signed exploitation contracts are getting richer while our people remain poor,” he said. “It is time for the country to readjust its contracts with the miners in order to seal win-win partnerships.”