New development in the Tradelink concessions scandal: the Congolese Institute for Nature Conservation (ICCN) confirms the illegality of the contracts awarded by ex-Environment Minister Claude Nyamugabo.
Two weeks after Greenpeace Africa’s demand to cancel the 1.4 million ha of so-called “conservation” concessions awarded to a firm one of whose shareholders is a Belgian mining entrepreneur, the Environment Ministry hasn’t said a word.
The general director of ICCN, for his part, has chosen to break the silence: he confirmed that all six Tradelink contracts violated the relevant legislation.
Decree n°011/27 of 20 May 2011 specifying rules for allocation of forest conservation concessions requires an ICCN representative to be present at the meeting at which the technical and financial proposals of potential concessionaires are examined. Pasteur Dr. Cosma Wilungula is categorical: ICCN never participated at any such meeting.
Neither the contracts nor their appendices were ever transmitted to ICCN, as required by section 27 of the contracts. ICCN “isn’t informed of the availability of any concession following inventory and management plan,” he added.
Greenpeace Africa attempted to contact Minister Eve Bazaiba’s cabinet several times, as well as the general secretary and general director at the Ministry. Complete silence.
“As far as the Environment Ministry goes, it’s playing ostrich,” said Irène Wabiwa Betoko, Forest campaign leader at Greenpeace Africa. “Given the gravity of the affair, its silence is totally incomprehensible.”
Ms Wabiwa added : “Is history repeating itself? On the Ministry website, on its Facebook page, and on Eve Baziba’s twitter account all we’re seeing is an uninterrupted flow of informations on other matters. We’re very, very worried.”