Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo--(Newsfile Corp. - July 16, 2022) - The Collectif, environmental and social campaigners in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) are calling on the country's prime minister to revoke a controversial cobalt agreement with Trafigura, the international commodity giant.
The "Collectif des Mouvements Citoyens, Leaders des Organisations des Jeunes et Jeunes Femmes" is a co-operative that includes 33 civil society groups based in the DRC.
The Collectif has written to prime minister Jean-Michel Sama Lukonde over allegations that the Trafigura deal breached strict laws designed to prevent corruption and bribery. The Collectif is calling on the DRC Government to take action over what the campaigners have branded a "violation of competition rules designed to prevent corruption and bribery in the DRC".
In November 2020, Trafigura signed a contract with Entreprise Generale du Cobalt (EGC), a subsidiary of state-controlled mining company Gecamines, to market cobalt produced from artisanal mining zones. According to the terms of the deal, Trafigura will be able to purchase 50% of artisanal cobalt production in the country over a five-year period.
Trafigura will provide financing to fund the creation of artisanal mining zones, the installation of ore purchasing stations and costs related to the delivery of cobalt it receives.
The Collective believes that the award of this contract to Trafigura broke strict Congolese competition laws.
In an open letter the Collectif said: "The deal was made in secret and, as a result, rode roughshod over article 17 of the law n° 10/010 du 27 avril 2010, which stipulates that 'public contracts are awarded by invitation to tender'. There was no tender and Trafigura was therefore illegally awarded the contract.
"We fear that EGC's partnership with Trafigura will harm our country's international standing and, more importantly, be to the detriment of the 200,000 Congolese artisanal miners whose labour is the lifeblood of this country's economy."
The Collective has also said that the full details of the EGC-Trafigura agreement have not been published as required under DRC laws and international agreements on transparency to which the DRC is a signatory.
"This lack of transparency is troubling for such a high-profile project," the Collectif wrote in their letter to the prime minister.
The Collectif also raised concern about Trafigura's tarnished reputation worldwide, which it said should disqualify it from government contracts. The Collectif wrote: "We also harbour serious ethical concerns regarding Trafigura. The company is currently under formal investigation for corruption in Brazil and has been linked to corruption in many more countries, including Venezuela, Jamaica, Angola, Zimbabwe, Republic of Congo and South Sudan.
"Why has the DRC government jumped into bed with a company whose reputation is so tarnished? It is vital that EGC selects an appropriate partner. Trafigura's lamentable track record and woeful standards should disqualify it from being this partner."
The warning letter comes after the government's anti-corruption watchdog revealed that Gecamines had overseen a series of irregularities that led to the loss of $400 million.
DRC's General Inspectorate of Finances, or IGF, criticized the terms of Gecamines's deal with the world's biggest miners and advised the government to put a halt to any new deals for the company's assets.
The civil society groups' calls for the government to revoke the contract also comes after a similar decision was taken over the Nzilo II hydroelectric power station. In that case, the Agence Regulation des Marches Public (ARMP) reversed a ministerial decision to award Lualaba Power the contract. In its ruling, the regulatory authority found that the Ministry of Water Resources and Electricity had failed to comply with the requirement to refer the tender process to the ARMP.
In its letter to the DRC Government, the Collectif wrote: "We fear that EGC's partnership with Trafigura will harm our country's international standing and, more importantly, be to the detriment of the 200,000 Congolese artisanal miners whose labour is the lifeblood of this country's economy. At a time when President Felix Tshisekedi has vowed to clean up the corruption that blighted the mining sector under his predecessor Joseph Kabila, the government should cancel this agreement and start afresh as a matter of urgency."
The DRC is the world's leading source of mined cobalt, producing 120,000 metric tons - around two thirds of global supply - every year. Artisanal cobalt miners mine around 15% of all cobalt in the DRC.
The "Collectif des Mouvements Citoyens, Leaders des Organisations des Jeunes et Jeunes Femmes" is a civil society movement comprising 33 local and national Congolese non-governmental organisations (NGOs). The movement has spearheaded a string of previous successful campaigns including lobbying the Congolese government to strip a controversial Middle Eastern health company of a contract to manage and operate a hospital in the city of Lubumbashi. The collective is also notable for leading efforts demanding the government improve its response to the Covid pandemic and offer greater support to Congolese people. Among the groups that make up the movement are national civil society groups Telema and Nouvel Congo, as well as regional organisations such as Peuple Likozi and Peuple Likonzi.
Nathan Mavinga, coordinator
Collectif des Mouvements Citoyens, Leaders des Organisations des Jeunes et Jeunes Femmes
+243 825 556 292
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