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Congo staggers under commodities blow

Monday, July 11, 2016 - 01:41

The global collapse in commodity prices has devastated Congo's mainstay industry of mining. And, as David Pollard reports, it's exacting a worrying toll on its people - and its politics.

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They dig deep, but there's little reward. The aftershock of a global collapse in commodity prices devastating the mining industry here. 3,000 direct and 10,000 subcontractor jobs have been lost since last year. Glencore's Katanga mine - one of Congo's biggest - has suspended work. And though China - drawn by lucrative copper reserves - is investing, even that has a downside, say some locals. (SOUNDBITE) (Swahili) MINER, MWADI TAMBWE SAYING: "We go with a sack full of minerals between 150 and 160 kilogrammes, but when we try to sell to the Chinese, they weigh it at 60, and we're forced to sell for less." These are artisanal miners - small-scale, susbsistence workers. If there's barely a living for them, that means harder times too for this local town in Kolwezi. Commodities account for 95% of Congo's earnings. The growth outlook this year: it's been cut from nine per cent to just over five. (SOUNDBITE) (Swahili) MARKET VENDOR, NATHALIE NYEMBO SAYING: "It's not like before, where by the end of the month we had money to pay school fees, pay rent, but right now we are suffering." And that, says the provincial governor, is fuelling resentment. (SOUNDBITE) (French) PROVINCIAL GOVERNOR, RICHARD MUYEJ SAYING: "Who benefits from all these profits and where do they get these profits from? We can see that the profits from mining here go to other provinces, to other countries and other continents. It's not fair. We are fighting for justice." Analysts warn of a growing sense of political risk - if, as expected, elections are delayed in November - and President Kabila's opponents take to the streets to demand his resignation.

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Congo staggers under commodities blow

Monday, July 11, 2016 - 01:41