Civil service in the Democratic Republic of the Congo

23 Nov 2011

The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is a vast country endowed with huge natural and mineral resources. However, for decades, the country has been through coups d’état, civil wars, rebellions, political turmoil and instability, and it has also faced aggression from its neighbouring countries in recent years. All these events have impacted negatively on the state and have provoked the decay of public institutions, making the country one of the notorious ‘failed states’ of the world. With the introduction of independence in 1960 the DRC inherited a civil service that was successful as an instrument used in meeting the interests of the colonial power that ruled the country. In spite of the fact that the colonial structures were not wholly suitable for the needs of the newly independent citizens, it is clear that, if only these administrative structures could have been reformed and adapted in line with the country’s circumstances, they could have allowed the country to be on the path of development. Instead most of the Congolese leaders neglected the maintenance of the institutions of the state and never committed themselves to establishing a system able to ensure good governance of the country’s resources. However, 30 June 2010 marked the fiftieth anniversary of independence for the DRC. This occasion brought mixed emotions, as some Congolese citizens were celebrating, while others were shocked by the current situation facing the country. For the latter group this was an opportunity not only to look back and speculate on what went wrong in Congolese public affairs, but also to come up with a strategy to tackle the many challenges faced by the public service particularly. This article focuses on the state of the public service in the DRC after a half century of independence. It attempts to examine the extent to which various policies have influenced the current configuration of the public service and the way it operates. The article will therefore provide a historical background of public affairs and it will consider some of the major civil service reforms that took place in the country from 1960 to date. Finally, the article will outline some of the hindrances to the proper functioning of the public service in the country before it concludes with some recommendations.