Monday, 20 June 2011

Kinshasa vigilante whistle-blowers

This is a random story about agency in Kinshasa – the way ordinary people organize to cope with state failure – in this case the absence of local police. A friend told me about how his neighbourhood in Limete was increasingly subjected to house breaks and low-intensity violence.

Fed up, with burglaries and problems of insecurity, we decided to take things into our own hands. We have no police here. Discussions took place in the comités de quartier. We decided to form a task force to propose solutions to prevent further instances. We wanted to protect ourselves and our belongings while being humane at the same time. We came up with an idea and everyone pitched in to buy what was needed. We made a group purchase, followed by distribution to every household. Instructions were given. In case of an incident – everyone would be mobilized…”

After the Rwandan massacres, you can probably guess what I imagined. But there were no machetes here.

My friend continued: “In case of an incident, we would take our new whistles and blow as loud as possible, alerting the neighbourhood and scaring off the intruders.”

This seems to be a good lesson in humility and creativity, a popular response to a real problem that the government hasn’t been able to address.

Monday, 13 June 2011

Tshisekedi banned - journalist harrassed

Congolese journalist Serge Bitangilayi was detained and intimidated by officers of the notorious Agence nationale des renseignements (ANR) in Mbuji-Mayi this week. His crime? Broadcasting images of UDPS leader Etienne Tshisekedi. Kasai provincial authorities banned broadcasts of the veteran opposition heavyweight who will compete with Kabila for the presidency later this year.
Etienne Tshisekedi

Harassment of media professionals is ongoing proof of how factions in the Kabila government are strangling freedom of expression in the run up to elections.

The incident was condemned by Observatoire de la Liberté de la Presse en Afrique (OLPA) and by Journaliste en Danger (JED).

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Mickey au Congo

@Walt Disney Co.
Beaucoup d’enfants européens et américains découvrent l’Afrique et la forêt tropicale en regardant les filmes Disney. Ce n’est donc pas étonnant que la maison mère de Mickey investi dans la conservation de la forêt africaine.

En novembre 2009 Disney s’est déclaré prêt à investir 4 milliards de dollars dans le mécanisme REDD en RDC et au Pérou en collaboration avec l’ONG américaine, Conservation International. La Réserve des Gorilles de Tayna est le site en RDC identifié pour les efforts Disney. Il s’agit d’appuyer les communautés locales à mieux gérer leurs forets, à améliorer leurs conditions de vie et à mener les études afin d’accompagner le pays dans le processus REDD.

Je n’ai pas trouvé d’informations récentes sur le travail de Disney dans la Réserve de Tayna. Si vous en avez, merci de bien vouloir les partager.

Friday, 3 June 2011

Natural resources transparency decree

Global Witness has rightly welcomed the publishing of a ministerial decree requiring the disclosure of contract information relating to oil, mining and forestry. Signed on 20 May, the decree could be considered as a useful step in enabling Congo’s fragile civil society to presure government for more transparency in what has so far been a realm of shady deal-making.

The Global Witness press release also emphasizes the need to ensure that the decree is correctly implemented. This is the real challenge. Le Potentiel of 5 June comments that: ‘Des clauses contractuelles secrètes ... peuvent être envisagées et les moyens d’évasion fiscale sont si sophistiqués que même un gouvernement, fortement déterminé, a du mal à éradiquer la corruption’.

Given the high economic stakes, it is illusory to think that officials in high places will not be able to circumvent the terms of the new decree. The non-respect of the December 2005 presidential decree about forestry could be an indication. The secrecy surrounding the Congo-China six billion dollar barter deal is another example of Congolese non-transparency.

Thursday, 2 June 2011

Triste anniversaire: Floribert Chebeya


Monoko ya mokonzi ezali mobeko. Oboyi kotusa monoko ya mokonzi, obuki mobeko ya leta.

Le président de la Voix des sans voix, avait été retrouvé mort le 2 juin 2010. Daniel Mukalay, chef des services spéciaux de la police, avait avoué avoir participé, comme exécutant, au meurtre du président de l'ONG. Il risque la peine capitale. Mais il y un grand absent devant la justice : le patron de la police congolaise, le général John Numbi, mis en cause par Mukalay.
Un an après l'assassinat du défenseur des droits de l'homme congolais, le procès des assassins présumés touche à sa fin. Le verdict devrait être rendu dans trois semaines...