Mineral rich DRC, the spoilt kid of the Great Lakes Region, the prodigal son of the West

A writer once used an intriguing analogy on DRC, likening the country’s leadership to a spoilt kid from an urban family who was sent to live with his grandparents in the rural areas for a while as a way to keep him away from bad company in the city. Once here, to compensate for the fast life he had been living in the city, the young man wreaked havoc in the village, causing all sorts of trouble for his grandparents.

However, like most grandparents, they decided to see no evil, hear no evil in their grandson and as a result, the spoilt kid started coming home with bad injuries because the village started losing their patience on the boy’s extreme bad behaviour. The grandparents had to send him back to his parents after he came back home with a broken arm.

This analogy perfectly paints a picture of how the DRC leadership is coddled by the International Community. The DRC is a failed state, with dysfunctional institutions, led by extremely corrupt and incompetent leaders.

However, despite this, like the grandparents, the International Community continues to treat the DRC leadership with legitimacy and accord them great courtesy, to the detriment of its neighbours who continue to suffer from the consequences of the absence of competent leadership in the vast country. Unlike the grandparents whose compassion to the spoilt kid is the blood connection, in the case of the International Community, the connection is mineral wealth of the DRC. 

Because of incompetent leadership that has failed to exercise control over its territory, the DRC is the sanctuary of preference for dangerous armed groups like the FDLR which went and established camp after committing genocide against Tutsi in Rwanda. More than 130 armed groups operate with a lot of impunity, many of which collaborate with the national army, FARDC in committing atrocities and displacing Congolese nationals.  

The coddling of the DRC by the International Community has resulted to untold misery on the part of the Congolese population who, despite Congo being among the top richest countries in the world in terms of mineral resources, live in abject poverty.

The country is widely considered to be the richest country in the world regarding natural resources; its untapped deposits of raw minerals are estimated to be worth in excess of U.S. $24 trillion. The mining industry of the Democratic Republic of the Congo produces copper, diamonds, tantalum, tin, gold, and more than 63% of global cobalt production.

However, DRC is among the five poorest nations in the world. In 2021, nearly 64 % of Congolese, that is to say 60 million people, lived on less than $1 a day. About one out of six people living in extreme poverty in Sub-Saharan Africa lives in DRC. Majority of Congolese live in very poor shelters, don’t eat adequate meals and earn very low, sporadic incomes from unreliable livelihoods. Many children have abandoned school as parents cannot or will not afford school fees due to poverty, hopelessness, or even ignorance of the importance of education.

A historian and explorer, Dan Snow described the DRC in these words in his travel blog: “It is a place seemingly blessed with every type of mineral, yet consistently rated lowest on the UN Human Development Index, where even the more fortunate live in grinding poverty.”

However, rather than help the Congolese people to organize themselves and liberate themselves from bad leadership, the International Community is content with the status-quo because that is what serves their interest.

A disorganized DRC is good for business. That is why they are willing to help the corrupt and inept leadership of Tshisekedi to quell any dissent, and even commit genocide if that would ensure the DRC system stays disorganized and dysfunctional.

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