Future looks bright for DRC

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THE people of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) are a cheerful and friendly lot.
But beneath those smiles and cheerful faces lies a lingering fear that another war could break out.
Their fears are genuine.
They have endured what is known as the ‘African Continental War’ that began in 1998 and involved nine African nations against 20 armed groups. Zimbabwe was part of the nine countries.
It is for this reason that they love, respect and cherish the people of Zimbabwe and its leader.
Located in the African Great Lakes region, it is the second largest country on the continent after Sudan with a population of 75 million people.
The vast land holds an array of minerals that have brought contrasting phases of conflict and relative peace in the history of this blessed and seemingly ‘cursed’ country.
In recent years, the Congolese have witnessed war after war yet they have not given up hope.
With their economy in tatters, the DRC government has started putting in place measures to ensure that the country emerges from the doldrums.
This is a country in change.
The wars have left the DRC in shambles.
The infrastructure is in tatters.
Development is taking place at a snail’s pace.
With its untapped deposits of raw minerals estimated to be worth in excess of US$24 trillion, the economy of the DRC has declined drastically since the mid-1980s.
“At the time of its independence in 1960, the Democratic Republic of the Congo was the second most industrialised country in Africa after South Africa,” says a 2013 Wikipedia report.
“It boasted a thriving mining sector and its agriculture sector was relatively productive. 
“Since then, corruption, war and political instability have been a severe detriment to further growth, today leaving DRC with the world’s lowest GDP per capita.”
Agriculture is the mainstay of the economy, accounting for 57,9 percent of GDP in 1997.
In 1996, agriculture employed 66 percent of the workforce, but these are reports authored and presented by the country’s plunderers-in-chief that have masked their looting by creating wars in the DRC.
Water and electricity are scarce for the majority who reside in the capital Kinshasa.
This is despite the fact that the DRC boasts of arguably one of the continent’s biggest dams, Inka Dam which according to experts has the potential to produce electricity for the whole of the African continent.
The biggest challenge for the DRC is the recurrence of wars which has created uncertainty even among the country’s patriots.
According to the BBC 2013 report, DRC’s abundant mineral and natural resources have fuelled the wars that the giant Southern African nation has endured since the 1960s.
“The history of DR Congo has been one of civil war and corruption,” reads the report in part.
“After independence in 1960, the country immediately faced an army mutiny and an attempt at secession by its mineral-rich region of Katanga.
“A year later, its prime minister, Patrice Lumumba, was seized and killed by troops loyal to army chief Joseph Mobutu (with the help of the United States’ spy organisation, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and Belgian authorities).
“In 1965 Mobutu seized power, later renaming the country Zaire and himself Mobutu Sese Seko.
“He turned Zaire into a springboard for operations against Soviet-backed Angola and thereby ensured US backing.
“But he also made Zaire synonymous with corruption (and unprecedented plunder).”
It was the US which allegedly backed the rebels in the 1998 war.
For the US, Zimbabwe’s sending of troops to quash the rebels who were moments away from toppling the then president, the late Laurent Kabila was enough provocation that warranted the imposition of illegal sanctions.
Despite the signing of the peace accord in 2003, coup attempts and sporadic violence started again in the eastern part of the country in 2008.
A rebel grouping calling itself ‘M23’ has in the past year caused disturbances and further jeopardising prospects of the relative peace that the people of the DRC have enjoyed in the past few years.
Despite a peace agreement being signed with the rebels in November last year, not many are convinced on the sincerity of the M23.
Many in Kinshasa have expressed similar sentiments.
“I think they are coming back, I have seen what those people can do,” a Mabele who claims to have fled from Goma, the biggest town in eastern DRC told this reporter last week.
United Nations experts last year accused Uganda and Rwanda of backing the rebels during the uprising.
Both countries deny the charge.
M23 is the latest incarnation of the Tutsi-led insurgents who have battled Congo’s government in its mineral-rich eastern region since 1996, in an evolving conflict that has caused the deaths of millions from violence, hunger and disease.
Last November, M23 rebels occupied Goma, a town of a million people and the capital of North Kivu province on the border with Rwanda.
They withdrew under intense diplomatic pressure that led to the opening of talks in Uganda.
But with the DRC President Joseph Kabila Kabange promising to revamp the country’s infrastructure and improve the economy, the future looks bright.
DRC is a country headed for better times.
Let those with ears listen.

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