Global Witness responds

Guest post by Lizzie Parsons, from the Democratic Republic of Congo team at Global Witness. This is a response to "Looking Closer at the Congo" by Johanna Jansson and Jiang Wenran. 

Johanna Jansson and Jiang Wenran raise a number of concerns about the Global Witness report, China and Congo: Friends in Need

It is important to recognise the overall purpose of the report, which is to push for greater openness over a deal of great importance to the future of the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The report, based on extensive research involving several research trips to Congo and meetings with a great many contacts, looks in detail at a potentially transformational deal which covers total investments of $6 billion – equivalent to about half the whole country’s GDP last year, or to over 80 per cent of DRC’s 2011 budget.    
Global Witness has long been pushing for the Congolese government and Chinese authorities to be more open about some of the basic factors underlying the deal. Particularly: what infrastructure will be built and at what cost; how will the minerals be valued under the deal; and how exactly does the Congolese government intend to guarantee a relatively high 19% profitability rate for the Chinese parties.
Without such basic information, it is hard for the citizens of the DRC to judge whether the deal is going to deliver the benefits it promises. This lack of transparency about the incomings and outgoings related to such a large deal also means the potential for corruption is greatly increased.
Global Witness’s publication of the report and our push for transparency over the deal has borne fruit. For example, earlier this year Congo’s infrastructure ministry provided us with a list of the first phase of infrastructure projects to be built under the deal – a hospital and several roads, amounting to $750 million. We have published this information on our website, along with other relevant documents.
That brings us to one of the criticisms of the review – that, because we failed to get hold of a key document by the time of publication, our report was compromised. This seems to miss the point that the IMF had summarised the most important revisions, and we referred to that summary in our analysis. It also fails to take note of the key call for greater openness and transparency; full details of this deal should be available and open to public scrutiny.
When Global Witness did finally receive a full copy of the revisions, we published them on our website for the world to see. Nothing in this document changed our analysis of the deal or the central argument that Congo and China must to be clear on how the minerals to be mined under the deal will be valued.
Congolese people have long been kept impoverished because of mismanagement and embezzlement happening in the shadows. The China-Congo deal is a key test case of the government’s commitment to both transparency and anti-corruption safeguards.
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Photo by FairPhone shows miners in Congo.