RD Congo

'In Kinshasa, we live like beggars'

Stéphanie Nyota Muliri, 50, is still officially employed as public relations officer by the Bakwanga mining company (Miba) in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo. But the company has not paid its employees’ wages in months and its 7,000 staff are left without work.

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Stéphanie Nyota Muliri, 50, is still officially employed as public relations officer by the Bakwanga mining company (Miba) in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo. But the company has not paid its employees' wages in monthand its 7,000 staff are left without work.

Stéphanie Nyota Muliri, who lives in Kinshasa, denounces the Congo government's lack of action to boost the economy. 

We have not been paid in 27 months. The problems started before the crisis: we used to extract diamonds manually and we needed new equipment to re-launch the company.

 

Yet we are now being told that the price of diamonds has gone down with the world economy and that major customers such as De Beers do not do business with us anymore. Miba cannot get its hand on fresh capital.

Life has become too hard. Many of my colleagues cannot pay their rent and they sleep in churches. I could keep my home because the house belongs to a cousin, but I am heavily indebted. We live like beggars.

In the past, the company used to provide us with food and pay for primary school and medical care. Now we are lacking medicines and the children cannot study anymore.

I have four children. My eldest daughter lives in London and she used to send me money but she has just lost her own job. I can no longer support my son, who is a student in South Africa.

I entered Miba in 1987 as an unskilled worker and I raised through the ranks to become a protocol officer. When you have always worked, stopping hits your morale. I go to mass, I grow food in the garden to save money, I watch TV... I'm bored.

Sometimes, I go to Miba. We open the office, then close it. I meet colleagues who ask me for 500 Congolese francs (€0.50) because their children have nothing to eat.

The government is our majority stakeholder. It must take action so that investors in turn want to get involved. There are still a lot of diamonds in our concessions in Kasaï!"