afrol News, 21 October - A UN panel has proposed sanctions against companies and persons to stop the illegal exploitation of raw materials made possible by the war in Congo Kinshasa (DRC). The sanctions list includes several Congolese Ministers, but also key persons in Zimbabwe. Further, Rwandan and Ugandan citizen also dominated among perpetrators.
A group of United Nations experts appointed by UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan released today a report on illegal exploitation of natural resources and other forms of wealth of the Congo. According to the report, a general ban on the export of raw materials originating from Congo Kinshasa (DRC) would be counterproductive. Nonetheless, punitive measures were still needed to curb the illegal exploitation of the country's natural resources by criminal organisations and persons.
- Massive technical and financial assistance for the population would be required to offset the humanitarian impact of such restrictive measures, the UN expert panel says in its report. Nevertheless, steps need to be taken against companies or individuals or the country risks encouraging a continuation, or even an increase, of exploitative and illegal activities.
The report thus recommends that financial restrictions be placed on 29 companies based in Belgium, Rwanda, Uganda, DRC, Zimbabwe and South Africa, and a travel ban and financial restrictions imposed on 54 persons.
The mentioned persons include cabinet members and top officials from Congo Kinshasa and Zimbabwe. Congolese officials are Augustin Katumba Mwanke (Minister of Presidency), Mwenze Kongolo (Minister of National Security), Dennis Numbi Kalume (Minister of Planning and Reconstruction), Kibassa Maliba (ex-Minister of Mines), Mwana Nanga Mawapanga, the Congo's Ambassador in Harare and Didier Kazadi Nyembwe, Director of the Kinshasa Intelligence Agency.
The list further includes Emmerson Mnangagwa Dambudzo, who is Speaker of Parliament in Zimbabwe and many businessmen and (ex-)military personnel from Uganda, Rwanda, Zimbabwe, the Congo and from outside the region.
Noting that those involved in the illegal exploitation of natural resources did not have a strong incentive to alter the economic status quo, the report calls for "measures that address their fears of losing revenues." Such measures could only be effective if they took place simultaneously with a political process and should be monitored by a UN body that would report any violations to the UN Security Council.
The report also calls for quick disbursement of aid to the Congo and other countries in the Great Lakes region involved in the conflict for reconstruction and rehabilitation programmes aimed at creating jobs, rebuilding infrastructure and improving conditions for local populations.
A "fast-track programme" should be set up to retrain members of the countries' security apparatus and regulatory bodies, such as the customs, immigration and revenue collection agencies, as well as a strengthening of institutions to end the impunity enjoyed by high-ranking officials and various levels of civil servants.
The panel further proposes that measures be aimed at tying aid disbursements to Burundi, Rwanda, Uganda and Zimbabwe to their compliance with the Lusaka peace accord and verifiable measures they have taken to halt the illegal exploitation of resources from the Congo. Rwanda, Uganda and Zimbabwe were singled out as countries that had adopted "strategies for maintaining the mechanisms for revenue generation, many of which involve criminal activities, once their troops have departed."
Until now, all the parties involved in the illegal exploitation had had no strong incentive to alter the economic status quo. There was therefore "a need to apply forceful disincentives and incentives," the UN Panel's report concluded.
Recommending that non-compliance automatically trigger a reduction in assistance, the report says such cuts should apply to "institutional budget support, stabilisation lending or project lending and not sector-specific allocations."
Within the Congo, there was also an urgent need for institutional reforms and capacity-building for the state institutions. The priority areas for reform and the strengthening of national or central institutions should include "combating the widespread criminalisation" in the Congo, "enhancing scrutiny and transparency" and "increasing accountability and ending the impunity enjoyed by high-ranking officials and various levels of civil servants."
Sources: Based on UN