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Keywords:

  • anti-corruption;
  • civilian protection;
  • governance;
  • resource management;
  • security sector reform

Abstract

This paper draws on two periods of field research, conducted in 2004, to consider the state of governance in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). The first measures the paralysing impact of illegal taxation on riverine trade in the western provinces; the second documents civilian attempts to seek safety from violence in the troubled east, and evaluates third-party efforts to provide protection and security. Analysis of study findings suggests that the DRC's current governance crisis is neither historically novel nor driven exclusively by mineral resources, extraction rights or trafficking. Rather, government by predation is an endemic and systematic feature of the civil and military administration, ensuring the daily economic survival of soldiers and officials, who are able to wield their authority in a ‘riskfree’ environment, without oversight or accountability. The paper's conclusion tries to make sense of the persistence of corruption in social and political life, and assess the capacity of ordinary citizens to reverse their predicament.