World News

In DR Congo, civil servants work until the end of their lives

They are past 70 and sometimes even 100 years old. Many civil servants in the Democratic Republic of Congo work until their last days, hoping for a pension and recognition that never comes. I would like the state to close my career with honour,” says Bayard Kumwimba Dyuba, 84, a primary school teacher in Lubumbashi, the main town in the south-east of the vast central African country.

Dyuba is a short, jovial man with a sharp mind, plagued by a bent back and “difficult hearing”. I started teaching in 1968, on September 9. It’s the job I chose… I don’t want to give it up,” he says after the question has been repeated. He teaches a class of 35 pupils aged 11 or 12. “But I am at the end of my strength.

Then why doesn’t he retire? “I want to leave,” Dyuba says. “But not like that, with nothing! I would like to be given what I deserve.

He estimates that $30,000 (27,320 euros) would be the fair “final tally” on his departure, followed by a regular pension. But for years, many teachers and administrative workers have been forgotten, despite a 2016 law stipulating that those who have reached the age of 65 or have accumulated 35 years of career are eligible for retirement.

“We are neglected, almost abandoned,” declares Dyuba, who says he earns a monthly salary of 370,000 Congolese francs ($185).

In another primary school close to his, the headmistress is 78 years old. Francoise Yumba Mitwele entered the profession in 1962. “It was my vocation, I love to teach,” she says, upright and dapper in her colourful African wrap. Mitwele is also sceptical, because since the government minister’s declarations, nothing has changed.

“I would like to leave with my head held high,” insists the headmistress, who also asks that her work over the years be recognised. “We don’t even have a medal, which we could leave to our grandchildren,” she says, her sadness shot through with anger.

On the far side of the country, in the capital Kinshasa, “Petit Pierre” clings to the banister as he climbs a rickety staircase up to his office, on the first floor of a blue house in the Singa Mopepe district of which he is the chief. At 80, Yantula Bobina Pierre Elengesa, his real name, is pleased to work “for a great service of the state”.

Source: eNCA

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