Prime Minister Matata Mapon presented his five-year Programme d’Action du Gouvernement: 2012-2016 to the Congolese National Assembly last week.
Building on President Kabila’s new mantra ‘revolution and modernity’ the programme outlines six ambitious objectives: (i) institutional reform and reinforcing the efficiency of the state, (ii) consolidating macroeconomic stability, accelerating growth and creating jobs, (iii) improving and developing infrastructure, (iv) improving living conditions for the population, (v) stimulating a sense of civism and (vi) improving Congo’s international relations and image.
The programme stipulates – but only in very general terms – how the realization of these objectives is to be financed. Three sources of funding are emphasized: (i) national fiscal revenues, (ii) public-private partnerships and (iii) support from bi- and multinational partners.
The 57-page document provides for very interesting reading. There are examples of critical realism: “L’économie congolaise a enregistré durant la décade 2000-2010 un taux de croissance moyen de 5%. Cette performance ne s’est malheureusement pas traduite par une amélioration correspondante de l’emploi et du bien être de la population” (section 3.1).
Some passages seem more likely to be read in NGO reports or academic papers than in a major official document: “L’amélioration de la gouvernance demeure un défi majeur pour le pays. Faute d’une volonté politique clairement affirmée pour le changement, la révolution mentale que requiert la situation restera un leurre” (section 4).
Last year’s agricultural law stipulates that only Congolese have the right to own land. Foreigners cannot be majority holders. In section 4.2.4 of Matata’s programme a similar constraint is announced. In the aim of promoting the middle class and protecting small shop-owners, “il est prévu de … interdire l’exercise du petit commerce et des petites activités aux étrangers…”.
Other items seem rather far-fetched in a five-year plan: providing villages with more than 500 inhabitants with wells (section 188.8.131.52), building factories to produce pharmaceuticals (section 184.108.40.206) or investing in the production of silica sands for solar panels (section 4.2.2).
The document is admittedly an outline and doesn’t have the ambition of developing in detail its points. Some ideas do nonetheless require clarification. What does this mean? “establish compulsory public service for people over 18” (section 4.5.2) or “humanize living conditions in prisons and make prisoners productive” (section 4.1.5).
Just days after Matata announced this ambitious programme, the President sent it back to the drawing board. Kabila asked the Prime Minister to rethink the ranking of his priorities because his ‘priority of all priorities’ is establishing security in the east.
From a development perspective, the five-year plan makes sense: implementing it however is going to be an uphill battle.