Country Listing

Zaire Table of Contents




Until the economic reforms begun under IMF tutelage in 1983, the government controlled economic policy by heavy participation in and ownership of enterprises, particularly those in the mining sector. Gécamines, the giant mining company, was a wholly government-owned company. These parastatals, until the reforms of 1983, were characteristically inefficient, largely because of their use by government elites as sources of private enrichment. One of the most notorious offenders was the mineral marketing agency, the Zairian Commerce Company (Société Zaïroise de Commercialisation des Minérais--Sozacom). Prior to its dissolution in 1984, Sozacom was under constant government pressure to surrender its export receipts to the treasury rather than to Gécamines for reinvestment, and it also had a reputation for diverting a percentage of its receipts to members of the Zairian elite.

The emergence in 1972 of the parastatal state marketing offices to monopolize the purchase of major crops, including coffee and cotton, was another example of corrupt government involvement in the economy. These monopolies were typically inefficient, subject to corruption, and provided only small returns for the farmer. Of the eleven state marketing offices created from 1971 to 1974, only one, the Zairian Coffee Board, continued to operate in the early 1990s.

Although by the early 1990s the government still owned or held a majority interest in many enterprises, including the national railroad and airlines, major mining and petroleum companies, and utilities, in theory the private sector was expected to lead economic growth. World Bank and IMF lending has been predicated on privatization and reform of state enterprises, allowing them to be run by competent managers free of political pressure from the central government. But reform appears unlikely under the Mobutu regime.

Data as of December 1993