DRC parliament votes out economy minister over inflation

Legislators blamed Jean-Marie Kalumba for soaring prices of goods and mismanagement of the fishing industry.

Customer holding bank notes in front of meat on chopping board
A customer buys meat at a butcher in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo [File: Kenny Katombe/Reuters]

The parliament of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) has voted to remove the economy minister, Jean-Marie Kalumba, from his post.

A Wednesday motion blamed Kalumba for the soaring prices of basic goods and mismanagement of the fishing industry.

It laid out a raft of complaints, including a lack of a policy to support local fishermen and frequent gas shortages driving up transport prices.

Kalumba, who was nominated to his post last year by President Felix Tshisekedi, had 48 hours to resign. Last year, parliament also pushed out then Prime Minister Sylvestre Ilunga Ilunkamba with a motion of no confidence.

Rising fuel prices, worsened by the COVID-19 pandemic and more recently the Russian invasion of Ukraine, have sparked fears of increased social unrest, particularly in the country’s remote eastern flank which has endured years of violence.

In recent days, about 6,000 civilians have fled to neighbouring Uganda from the region amid a wave of attacks by the M23 rebel group, according to the Red Cross.

Despite being a top producer of copper and the world’s leading miner of the battery metal cobalt, the DRC remains one of the world’s poorest and least developed countries.

The country’s heavy reliance on imports has made the effect on food prices particularly severe.

Meanwhile, the DRC’s largely artisanal fishing sector has long seen low yield despite abundant freshwater fishing resources.

The country’s central bank said in January inflation was estimated at 5.1 percent in 2021 and was projected to remain more or less the same in 2022.

The government is expected to announce new measures this week to deal with the flagging economy.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies