The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is a vast country endowed with
huge natural and mineral resources. However, for decades, the country has been
through coups d’état, civil wars, rebellions, political turmoil and instability, and it
has also faced aggression from its neighbouring countries in recent years. All these
events have impacted negatively on the state and have provoked the decay of public
institutions, making the country one of the notorious ‘failed states’ of the world.
With the introduction of independence in 1960 the DRC inherited a civil service
that was successful as an instrument used in meeting the interests of the colonial
power that ruled the country. In spite of the fact that the colonial structures were
not wholly suitable for the needs of the newly independent citizens, it is clear that,
if only these administrative structures could have been reformed and adapted in
line with the country’s circumstances, they could have allowed the country to be
on the path of development. Instead most of the Congolese leaders neglected the
maintenance of the institutions of the state and never committed themselves to
establishing a system able to ensure good governance of the country’s resources.
However, 30 June 2010 marked the fiftieth anniversary of independence for the
DRC. This occasion brought mixed emotions, as some Congolese citizens were
celebrating, while others were shocked by the current situation facing the country.
For the latter group this was an opportunity not only to look back and speculate on
what went wrong in Congolese public affairs, but also to come up with a strategy to
tackle the many challenges faced by the public service particularly. This article focuses
on the state of the public service in the DRC after a half century of independence. It
attempts to examine the extent to which various policies have
influenced the current
configuration of the public service and the way it operates. The article will therefore
provide a historical background of public affairs and it will consider some of the
major civil service reforms that took place in the country from 1960 to date. Finally,
the article will outline some of the hindrances to the proper functioning of the public
service in the country before it concludes with some recommendations.