Business, Finance & Economics

Selling mines to fund an election in Congo


Men work in a gold mine on Feb. 23, 2009, in Chudja, near Bunia, north eastern Congo.


Lionel Healing

A British lawmaker has published a series of documents that he says show Congo’s government has undersold mines costing the country as much as $5.5 billion, a staggering sum in an impoverished country.

According to Eric Joyce MP, the documents show, “a systematic pattern of underselling Congolese mining assets to off-shore ’shell’ companies incorporated almost exclusively in the British Virgin Islands, the ultimate beneficial owners of which are often unknown, with the result that the Congolese people do not benefit from the vast mineral wealth in their country.”

Joyce is chairman of the All Party African Great Lakes Group in the UK and has released the documents on his blog.

More from GlobalPost: Conflict minerals: How to help Congo

He says that there is evidence that proceeds from the “fire sale” of undervalued state assets were transferred to President Joseph Kabila’s election campaign fund by the country’s mines minister. Congo is due to go to the polls on Nov. 28.

The mining deals have been much talked about but hard to access in the past, for example, in the pages of specialist fortnightly journal Africa Confidential, which ran the story on the front cover of its most recent issue.

Jason Stearns has a helpful summary and some handy links on his Congo Siasa blog.