Kinshasa, 7 November 2022 – As COP27 opens in Sharm El-Sheikh, where the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is once again presenting itself as a “country-solution” to the climate crisis, Greenpeace Africa has published a report exposing the involvement of Deputy Prime Minister and Environment Minister Eve Bazaiba in land grabbing in the Tshopo province. A mission order signed on 16 July by Ms Bazaiba mandated a team to “wrest” consent from local communities for the allocation of their ancestral lands to an American company specializing in carbon projects.
A year ago, on the eve of COP26, Ms. Bazaiba was forced to suspend a similar operation in the same area, carried out illegally by the company Tradelink, which she had also supported.
“By supporting this new forestry scam, and all the irregularities it entails, Minister Bazaiba has once again demonstrated her contempt for Congolese law, civil society, and the rights of local communities in her own electoral district of Basoko,” said Irene Wabiwa, Greenpeace Africa’s Congo Basin Forest Campaign Leader.
The Tradelink scandal involved a brokerage firm that in September 2020 was illegally allocated six so-called forest “conservation concessions” half the size of Belgium. Two of these were in the province of Tshopo.
In July 2022, the communities of Basoko territory received an unexpected visit from a new team of carbon entrepreneurs escorted by the Ministry of the Environment, bearing promises of massive investment in local infrastructure. One of the two concessions visited by ERA-Congo, a subsidiary of Wildlife Works, is the former Tradelink concession n°14.
“Ms. Bazaiba seems to have taken the initiative of simply handing over the concession to another company without having definitively cancelled it. Greenpeace Africa calls on the President, Félix Tshisekedi, to order an urgent investigation to establish the responsibilities of all those, including Minister Bazaiba, involved in this affair and to end the impunity of environmental criminals,” concluded Irene Wabiwa.
The episode speaks volumes about the real attitude of the government towards the Congolese who’ll be on the firing line against industry if and when the moratorium on new logging concessions is lifted. This is likely to be sooner rather than later, thanks to the green light to lifting it that donors gave a year ago at the COP26 at Glasgow.
Attached : “Eve Bazaiba and Land grabbing: The Tradelink Scandal, Season 2.”
For more information and interviews:
Raphaël Mavambu, Media and Communications, Greenpeace Africa, [email protected]