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28 juillet 2014 1 28 /07 /juillet /2014 08:33
La Gecamines
La Gecamines

KINSHASA (Reuters) - Democratic Republic of Congo's President Joseph Kabila has fired the chief executive of the country's state mining company Gecamines for "gross negligence", according to a presidential decree read out on the state television channel.

Government officials declined to give further details on the nature of Ahmed Kalej Nkand's negligence following Saturday's decision.

The government issued a stern warning to Gecamines last year against selling the country's assets without its approval, highlighting concerns over the transparency of mining deals and the running of the firm.

Gecamines' management has also been criticised by the International Monetary Fund for a lack of transparency in the sale of assets following concerns that stakes in projects had been sold for considerably less than their market value.

At a press conference in the capital Kinshasa On Sunday, Prime Minister Augustin Matata Ponyo said only that Kalej had committed errors of governance.

"An audit was carried out in a fully professional manner and at a meeting with the administrative council of (Gecamines) serious errors of governance were recognised by the head of management," said Ponyo.

"We had to bring sanctions, and it was decided that (Kalej) would be dismissed."

Ponyo was speaking at a press conference held jointly with Makhtar Diop, the vice president of the World Bank who was concluding a four-day visit to Congo.

Diop congratulated the Congolese government for reducing annual inflation to around 1.4 percent and for achieving economic growth of 8.5 percent in 2013, set to rise to 8.7 percent this year.

These successes have been built on a booming mining sector. Congo produced a record 942,000 tonnes of copper in 2013, according to the International Monetary Fund, and Congo's mining chamber says industrial gold output is due to triple in 2014.

Despite its vast mineral reserves of gold, diamonds, copper, cobalt and tin, the majority of Congo's 65 million people remain impoverished due to mismanagement, corruption and cyclical violence in the country's volatile eastern provinces.

While the private sector in mining is doing well, Gecamines has been symptomatic of that broader dysfunction. In its heyday in the 1908s, it produced nearly 500,000 tonnes of copper. Years of neglect saw output plummet and the firm said it produced just 35,000 tonnes in 2012.

In June, thousands of Gecamines employees in Katanga went on strike over three months of unpaid wages. At that time Kalej had said the company was seeking to raise $160 million so that it could begin a restructuring programme that would involve letting go half of its 12,000 workers.

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