Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Rigorbert Maboundou: Brilliant economist but an incompetent minister(profile)

Rigorbert Maboundou: he is a brilliant economist and minister of agriculture.  However, he is a minister of Agriculture who has failed to develop a sector that would have been able to contribute in the fight against poverty and also fight the appalling unemployment rate in the country. His best periods are only when it comes to defending  President Denis Sassou Nguesso. His colleagues and students at the Marien Ngouabi University in Brazzaville describe him as man who mastered his course and was assiduous as a lecturer. But that assiduity has vanished when he got neck deep into politics.  Before his appointment as minister, he was the director of cabinet or chief of staff of Mr Clement Mouamba. And Mr Clement Mouamba was the first finance minister of Denis Sassou Nguesso, immediately after the 1997 civil war. Mr Clement Mouamba was a controversial minister of finance, first because he had worked with the toppled democratic government of Pascal Lissouba and secondly because of his insatiable love for prostitutes. Hence he was also known as the man with the “Golden Penis”. Clement Mouamba was so nicknamed because, when he was replaced by Mathias Dzon, he was sent to work as Congo’s representative at the Central Bank of Central African States abbreviated in French as BEAC. The headquarters of the central bank of the six member states is located in Yaoundé, Cameroon. While in Cameroon, Clement Mouamba liked visiting the red-light districts of the Cameroonian capital, where are located nightclubs and it was also reported that, Clement Mouamba was fond of prostitutes.

And whenever he employed the services of any prostitute, he graciously paid the sum of FCFA 1 million.  Besides being known in the Yaounde’s red light district as Penis D’or or Golden Penis, he was variously called: Bamenda or “Bon payeur”. And to use the Congolese parlance, Clement Mouamba was known as “Tonton a pesa a tala te”, which is a Lingala word for a man who has deep pockets and who is generous to women.  And because of the generosity of Clement Mouamba toward prostitutes, whenever he set foot in or around the nightclubs of Yaoundé, words went round amongst girls and there was commotion. Rigorbert Maboundou is different from his former boss and mentor, Clement Mouamba. He is not known to be a lover-boy as most of his colleagues are. He is not only soft spoken, but he is a methodic man who doesn’t entertain contradictions and he also doesn’t like free press.  However, he is not bellicose and could be reasoned.  His only fear it seems, is to lose his ministerial appointment, hence he is almost always ready to defend the president and strangely with sometimes real verifiable statistics and comparable sources or examples. Like most Congolese elite molded in the mold of Denis Sassou Nguesso, he enjoys  being praised for anything he has done.

However, he is a man who respects time and keeps to his promises.  He is accused by some within the ruling party and also within the ruling Nguesso family to be responsible in the failure of the government’s plan to revive the agricultural sector of the economy. For Congo, which is a country with rich arable land, but she is paradoxically a net importer of food from countries such the DRC and Cameroon. Regarding the accusation of failure to revive agriculture, he claims, it is the minister of Economy and Finance, Gilbert Ondongo who is responsible, for the failure, because he refuses to disburse the finances needed to turn the sector around. However at the ministry of finance, people claim that, a special fund for agriculture was set up, but the minister of Agriculture instead of providing funds to needy farmers, he gave loans to some members of governments and to some members of the ruling family. Those loans were not only used for projects that, had nothing to do with agriculture, but more, the loans were never reimbursed. He also spends  most of his time complaining likes most of his colleagues about the minister of finance, Gilbert Ondongo, whom he accuses to have scuttled the president’s plans to diversify the economy and make agriculture a central piece of the economy.

According to the minister of Agriculture, the minister of Finance is systematically blocking his request for funds, which if granted, it would have made agriculture a central piece of Congolese economy. Perhaps the minister of Agriculture may be correct that, the minister of finance is blocking or refusing to finance projects in his ministry. However, where the minister has failed is in their signature agric-village project. It was a project meant to make Congo self sufficient in poultry product and according to the ministry of finance, the budget was duly granted. But Congo remains a net importer of poultry products as she is in other areas. As regards that, failure, the minister doesn’t say is how he managed the agric-villages and its funds, that were meant to make Congo self sufficient in poultry products.  The lies or propaganda around the success of the much hyped Agric-village, which was synonymous to that of the Israeli Kibbutz, was exposed  in 2012, when a migrant crisis broke out between Congo and the DRC. when there were no eggs in the country , especially in Brazzaville in 2012,it became quickly evident that, the much hyped self sufficiency in poultry farming and products was just cheap propaganda. Rigorbert Maboundou doesn’t have any future politically in Congo after Denis Sassou Nguesso is gone from power.

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