DRC: For a new decentralized governance of the territory

Here and now, DRC needs a structured thought and a doctrine to structure the society if we want to be a ”modern” and meaningful Nation to ourself  and to other African countries! The current Congolese political class is – now – in trouble to indicate to people the right way to go for a real change as an expression of the collective intelligence.

1. The inspiration for a new territorial configuration

This proposal lies in the prospect of a ‘highly decentralized” territory but through a reconfiguration of ”districts” to consider in a new territorial division!

To do this, the suggested reconfiguration was inspired by the division of the provinces as delineated in the Constitution of 18 February 2006, but in the logic of making those provinces rather administrative bodies to coordinate all services devolved from central government in the purpose of supporting 2 or 4 autonomous districts with genuine local governments. The new division of the territory into autonomous districts would be done by taking into account the sociological reality in the exercise of the administrative management of public affairs.

I consider two territorial divisions into force in the DRC :

  • The provinces under the Constitution of 18 February 2006
  • The dioceses of the Catholic Church grouped according to certain criteria sociolinguistic

The exercise here is to find the optimum combination to meet both the criteria of economic viability for the development and sociological affinity to get consistent administration!

Map I : The provinces under the Constitution of 18 February 2006


Map II: The dioceses of the Catholic Church grouped according to linguistic criteria


2. The proposal advanced by the new territorial division

The DRC should be a unitary state but heavily decentralized, with 47 districts with local self-governments, but supervised by 20 ‘devolved’ provinces to coordinate central government’s agencies at the provincial level.

Table  1: Provinces and autonomous decentralized Districts with local governments

Provinces and districts

Under this suggested reconfiguration of the Congolese territory:

  • Provinces would be headed by ‘‘Resident-Ministers’’ in charge of supporting autonomous districts through administrative services devolved from central government.
  • Districts would be autonomous entities with local self-government and whose elected governors should be genuine political local leaders. Local administrations should be effectively implemented in those autonomous districts.
  • Exception: Kinshasa would be a province but having attributes of an autonomous entity as City-District: The political leader of the City would be a Resident- Minister for the Coordination of devolved services from central public administration but he should – first – be elected as the Governor of this City-District ! Simply, the Central Government would take note of his election as governor of the city-district before to appoint Him as Resident Minister, governmental ‘’Delegate’’ to this entity !
  • The 6 ”decentralized” provinces of the Constitution of 18 February 2006 wouldn’t disappear but rather be reconfigured into 20 devolved provinces or into autonomous districts within those devolved provinces.

Thus, there would be – in DRC – intermediate instances of coordination between the central government and the autonomous entities – the devolved provinces -. thing the division into provinces of the Constitution of 18 February 2006 did not foresee This is the first innovation of my proposal : to call this territorial organization, a ‘ federal system” or a ”system” very highly decentralized , it would be – just – an academic matter !

3. Logic behind the proposed configuration

The politico-administrative entity ”Territory” should completely disappear. There will be new entities called ”Cantons” which would correspond at the current ”Colllectivties” in rural areas and at the current ” Districts” in urban areas. The new ”autonomous districts” should directly oversee those ”Cantons”. Canton should mentor ”Municipalities” which correspond to current ”groupements” in rural zones and to current ”Communes” in urban area! In general, the new districts suggested here correspond to existing dioceses of the Church Catholic, possibly with slight modifications in their erection.

An Autonomous District should have its own political, administrative and technical institutions. But, all local insitutions should be harmonized across the country to facilitate an effective support to them or an efficient collaboration with the Central Government through its public administration whose competence would be exercised at the level of provinces! Unlike the current situation where local administrations are simply divisions of Public Administration of the Central Government! It is at this level we could find the second innovation of my proposal!

Table 2: Equivalence of politico-administrative entities

Local equivalence

4. The structure of local government

Local Government District would consist of Executive Departments at whose head would be appointed as Executive Councillors (not Ministers) in the following structure:

Local governments in the Districts would be therefore integrated into the above premises and subdivided Executive Departments into Local Directions, Local Directions (Districts) into Cantonal Offices and Cantonal Offices into Municipal bureaux .

Table 3: Functional structures of local governments

Local departments

The Governor of a district should consider himself as Local ”Head of State” , but with support from the central government via the devolved provinces.

5. The roles of a Resident- Minister in a Province

For controlling the politico-administrative entities, there should be – at national level- a State Ministry of Local Government working with following Delegate-Ministers :

  • Delegate Minister to Land Affairs : to record and maintain an inventory of land ownership at the local, provincial and national level by ranking them into relevant categories and pursuing a policy of effective and balanced use of land.
  • Delegate Minister to Population Management: to organize a functional civil registration system, demographic and socio-economic censuses and give support to a National Commission for the Organization of the Elections, attached to the Parliament.
  • Delegate Minister o Community Affairs: to ensure the socio-political Conversion of Customary Authorities into socio-economic actors at the community levels by funding projects initiated by them for their grassroots communities.
  • Delegate Minister to Management of Cities: to give -politically and technically- support to local governments in their quest for development of cities.

Resident Minister in the province should have political advisers who would be responsible for the monitoring the activities of governmental at the provincial level, except in the City of Kinshasa which would be directly healed by the local government. The number of advisers should correspond to the number of ministries to oversee the departments of government agencies in the province.

Ordinarily, the Resident- Minister in the province would have to work with the Provincial Directors of governmental agencies of Public Administration, Governors of Districts and their own advisers, and, through a consultative body called” Council Province”.

  • ‘’Provincial Council” including :
  • Resident- Minister in the province.
  • Governors of Districts.
  • Provincial Directors of governmental agencies.
  • Political Advisors of the Minister Resident in the province.

6. The local political system

Governors of districts would be elected by the Local Assemblies. Resident-Minister of the province would be appointed by the President of the Republic on the proposal of the Council of Ministers.

This is the third innovation of my proposal : the management of a province would be entrusted to a person not originate of that province while Districts would be run locally by elected officials ! The fear on the difficult management of large multi-ethnic states would thus be evacuated in Congolese institutional architecture.

Once elected, the District Governor should appoint ”Executive Councillors” (local ministers) of his local government and Administrators od the Cantons for the supervision of administrative services devolved from District to Municipalities. Peculiarity : a district governor would be under control of local legislative assemblies.

Mayors (appointed at the municipal level by the governors of districts) ould be under the control of Municipal Colleges. A sanction against a mayor should be immediately perceived as a sanction against the District Governor.

Electoral process :

  • The people directly elect councils cells (urban and rural);
  • Councils cells elect their delegates to vote Municipal Colleges (rural or urban);
  • Municipal Colleges elect or designate their delegates who should sit to the Local Assemblies on the basis of individual applications or a specific form of co-optation.
  • The number of members of a local assembly will depend on the population size of the District. They would be called ”Legislative Councillors”.

Table 4: Executive bodies and decision-making bodies at the local level

Local powers


The Congo needs a new internal composition law of his society to grow endogenously.

Three innovations in decentralized governance have been suggested here:

• It would be instituted intermediate instances of coordination between the central government and the autonomous entities – the devolved provinces – making the Congolese system definable as a new system both federal system (autonomous districts) and decentralization system (devolved provinces from government central to support autonomous districts and for institutional collaboration at the local level).

• It would be created 47 autonomous districts which should have their own political, administrative and technical institutions!

• Management is entrusted to devolved provinces of Resident-Ministers who are not originate of those provinces and the leadership of autonomous districts should be a political fact of elected Governors,” probably” originate of these districts.

As such, the above innovations call for a necessary revision of the Constitution of 18/02/2006. My intention was to signify that it is imperative to change the Constitution to facilitate the emergence of a sustainable and cumulative of progress in the DRC. An Historical compromise between political and social forces – including or not  Joseph Kabila – is necessary to be set up before any constitutional change.

Jean Munyampenda, Economist

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