A Report On The DRC and Its Election

Dr. Gary K. Busch*

Congolese President, Joseph Kabila (L) and former Interior Minister, Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary (R) who was picked as successor.
Congolese President, Joseph Kabila (L) and former Interior Minister, Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary (R) who was picked as successor.

There are long-delayed elections for a new President in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) Despite its vast mineral wealth the country has not prospered. Wars, poverty, occupation and exploitation of the country has been its fate since its independence from Belgium. Its mineral wealth has attracted the most avaricious forms of intervention of its neighbours, international mining companies who have not ceased in their ravaging of the countryside and the population of the country. These upcoming elections are hoped to be an improvement but seem, in the light of the political situation at present in the country, to be a forlorn aspiration. The DRC is a stranger to peace and stability, cursed by its mineral wealth and the failures of its political class.

I. The Mineral Background

There are certain elemental truths about the DRC, its mining history and its political structures which are crucial to understanding the industry.

Most of the metals mining in the country takes place within the province of Katanga; its business is conducted primarily in Lubumbashi, the regional capital. Since its earliest colonial days under the Belgians many international corporations and mining houses have acquired licences to extract the rich ores of the Congo. The Union Minière du Haut-Katanga (‘UMHK’) was a Belgian company set up by Societe Generale of Brussels to control the industry with Belgian Colonial approval. It did so from 1906 to 1966. It was a private company owned by the bank which was given a concession in Katanga, allowing it to mine uranium, copper, cobalt, radium, zinc, cadmium, germanium, manganese, silver, gold, and tin. By 1940 Société Générale controlled 70% of the Congolese economy.

When the Congo won its independence in 1960, the nationalist government led by Patrice Lumumba, wanted to take control of the mineral wealth of Katanga for the good of the new state. Union Miniere was unwilling to part with its assets and transferred around US$35 million to the separatists of Katanga, led by Moise Tshombe. Tshombe declared the independence of Katanga and allowed the UMHK to continue its mining in Katanga, paying all duties, taxes and costs to the Tshombe Government. The UKMK also funded international mercenaries to support the rebellion. By 15 January 1963, the UN established full control over Katanga: Tshombe went into exile in Spain, and his military commander swore an oath of allegiance to the Congo. The last troops of the UN contingent in Congo withdrew on 30 June 1964. Mobutuism became the rule until Kabila supplanted him.

Opposition to Mobutu grew, spawning a number of opposition groups. One, in South Kivu, was led by Laurance-Desire Kabila. Kabila returned to the DRC in October 1966 leading ethnic Tutsis from South Kivu against Hutu forces, marking the beginning of the First Congo War. With support from Uganda, Rwanda, and Burundi, Kabila pushed his forces into a full-scale rebellion against Mobutu as the Alliance of Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Congo-Zaire (ADFL). By mid-1997, the ADFL had almost completely overrun the country and confronted the remains of Mobutu’s army. Following failed peace talks held on board of the South African ship SAS Outeniqua, Mobutu fled into exile on 16 May.

During 1997, relations between Kabila and his former backers (Museveni of Uganda and Kagame of Rwanda) deteriorated. In July 1998, Kabila ordered all foreign troops to leave the DRC. They refused to leave; claiming that the DRC troops could not defend their interests or protect them from the exile groups operating the Eastern Congo. On 2 August 1997, fighting erupted throughout the DRC as Rwandan troops ‘mutinied’, and fresh Rwandan and Ugandan troops entered the DRC. Kagame ordered his troops to attack Kinshasa to depose Kabila in the hopes that his Banyamulenge Tutsi allies in the newly formed Rwandan-backed rebel group called the Rassemblement Congolais pour la Democratie (RCD) would take over. Soon after, Museveni created the rebel group called the Mouvement pour la Liberation du Congo (MLC) to fight for Uganda’s interests and sent into the Congo thousands of Ugandan soldiers. This campaign was impeded when Angolan, Zimbabwean, and Namibian troops intervened on behalf of the Kabila’s DRC.

However, this left the Eastern Congo (where the war was being fought), in the hands of Uganda and Rwanda with some sections held by the Mayi-Mayi and Burundi. This created a standoff situation where the occupying forces could engage their efforts in the massive looting of eastern DRC’s riches. Numerous accounts and documents suggest that by 1997 a first wave of ‘new businessmen’ speaking only English, Kinyarwanda and Kiswahili had commenced operations in eastern DRC. Theft of livestock, coffee beans and other resources began to be reported with frequency. By the time the August 1998 war broke out, Rwandans and Ugandans (top officers and their associates) had a strong sense of the potential of the natural resources, especially coltan, and their locations in eastern DRC.

The Ugandan decision to enter the conflict in August 1998 was defended by some top military officials who had served in eastern Zaire during the first war and who had had a taste of the business potential of the region. The Ugandan forces were eager to move in and occupy areas where gold and diamond mines were located. In September 1998 this looting was put in the hands of General Salim Saleh (born Caleb Afande Akandwanaho) on 14 January 1960). He is Museveni’s half- brother; a proven money-launderer, drug dealer, resource thief and plunderer. Salim Saleh formed a company which would supply the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo with merchandise and would return with natural resources. The project never materialised in this form but was realised as pure looting and pillage under the protection of his brother the President of Uganda, Yoweri Museveni.

Despite their claims of a security concern generating their interest in the DRC, some top army officials clearly had a hidden agenda: economic and financial objectives. A few months before the 1998 war broke out, General Salim Saleh and the elder son of President Museveni reportedly visited the eastern DRC. One month after the beginning of the conflict, General James Kazini was already involved in commercial activities. He already knew the most profitable sectors and immediately organised the local commanders to serve their economic and financial objectives.

This was mirrored in the activities of the Rwandans. At the heart of the financial setting was the Banque de commerce, du développement et d’industrie (BCDI) located in Kigali. This was the initial vehicle through which all revenues were passed at the initial stages of Rwandan and Ugandan engagement in the DRC. Then, when the war broke out the Rwandans retained the BCDI as their conduit and the Ugandans set up their own banking system. The extraction of minerals rose to a fever pitch as hostilities began with no attention to safe or rational methods of extraction.

In September 1999, the UPDF local commander demanded the extraction of gold from the pillars of the Gorumbwa mine galleries in which dynamite was used. The galleries collapsed, leading to the death of a number of Congolese miners. Some months later, Ugandan soldiers who came to mine in the same area contracted respiratory disease from the uncontrolled levels of dust in the mines. Even when the local commanders were informed about the dangers of these activities, there was an acceptable level of tolerance for death and disease by the military leaders.

Local Congolese had been mining the areas for years for their own benefit as artisanal miners. Some of them were used as ‘convincible labour’ to mine gold, diamonds or coltan.  In the Bondo locality within Equateur Province, young men from 12 to 18 years were recruited by Jean-Pierre Bemba. His Ugandan allies trained the recruits and shared with them the idea that the Ugandan army was an ‘army of development’ that aimed at improving ordinary people’s living conditions. After the one-hour morning physical training session, they were sent to gold mines to dig on behalf of the Ugandans and Bemba.

In Kalima, the RPA commander Ruto enrolled two teams of local Congolese to dig coltan; these Congolese worked under the heavy guard of Rwandan soldiers. In the Kilo-Moto mineral district, Ugandan local commanders and some of the soldiers who guarded the different entry points of the mining areas allowed and encouraged the local population to mine. The arrangement between the soldiers and the miners was that each miner would leave at the entry/exit point one gram of gold every day. On average 2,000 individuals mined this large concession six days a week. It was so well organised that the business ran smoothly. On average 2kg of gold were delivered daily to the person heading the network.

The other form of organised extraction by the occupying forces involved the import of manpower for mining. Occupying forces brought manpower from their own countries and provided the necessary security and logistics. In particular, Rwanda utilised its own prisoners to dig coltan in exchange for a sentence reduction and some limited cash to buy food. There were 1,500 Rwandan prisoners in the Numbi area of Kalehe alone. These prisoners were seen mining coltan while guarded by RPA soldiers.

This was the pattern of exploitation of the DRC and its human and mineral wealth even when peace agreements, like the Lusaka Accords which supposedly ended the war, were signed. Instead of warring armies Eastern Congo became controlled by warlords and militia groups whose exploitation took the form of pillage, rape and murder. Most of these groups had affinities with either the Rwandan or Ugandan governments which handled the physical trade in the wealth which was exported. The Rwandans backed ‘rebel’ military warlords like Laurent Nkunda or Bosco Ntanganda. These provided the fig leaf for Rwanda’s continuing rape of the Congo. Others did the same for Uganda. They operated with impunity. The people most responsible for these continuing atrocities were protected. These included Yoweri Museveni, Salim Saleh, Paul Kagame, James Kazini, Moses Ali, James Kabarebe, Taban Amin, Jean-Pierre Bemba, Laurent Nkunda, Bosco Ntanganda, Meles Zenawi and a long list of people whose culpability is without question; many of whom have been named for atrocities again and again. Bemba was finally brought to the ICC to stand trial. This was more to do with his political opposition to Kabila Junior and the Central African Republic than his depredations in the Eastern Congo. Recently he has been released by the ICC and returned home.

Theoretically, the United Nations has installed teams of peacekeepers in the DRC as MONUC (United Nations Organization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo); since 1 July 2010, MONUC was renamed the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO). The track record of MONUC/MONUSCO is not impressive. In the words of a Zimbabwean general: ‘They are like tits on a bull. They are there but serve no useful purpose!’ Two of the inbuilt reasons for their lack of success was (1) relying at the beginning on the French military who encamped at Ituri and refused to leave the city because the rebels killed two French officers on the first outing; and (2) relying on Rwandan troops to co-ordinate the fight against the rebels they are covertly supporting in the name of MONUSCO. This scheme offered limited optimism for the Congolese. In fact, many peacekeepers of the MONUC were engaged in rape, murder and pillage for their own account. Some have been prosecuted and sent home. Their presence in the DRC adds to the fears of the population.

Unfortunately, when the war was stopped, and Uganda and Rwanda officially withdrew their troops they left behind paramilitary bands (like M23) who kept up the exploitation of the Congo’s riches and the misery of Congo’s inhabitants. Initially these wars and the rapes, murders and pillaging associated with them derived from the efforts of Uganda and Rwanda seeking to profit from the valuable mineral resources of the Eastern Congo.


The most important aspect of the mining of minerals and metals in the DRC is that the majority of the mining is conducted by artisanal miners. The immense capital costs of industrial mining have been earmarked for the DRC but have been delayed or have never been brought to completion. Many firms, like  Tengke-Fugurume, made valiant efforts to make heavy capital improvements to the mining processes, but these are largely the exceptions.

The truth is that the current mining industry in the DRC is characterised by very poor geological knowledge, and the true extent of mineral resources is unclear due to a lack of modern exploration.   The country has substantial reserves of copper, cobalt, cadmium, diamonds, gold, silver, zinc, manganese, tin, uranium, germanium, columbite-tantalum (coltan), bauxite, iron ore and coal.  It is estimated that the DRC contains 80% of the world’s columbite-tantalite (coltan) reserves, 49% of its cobalt reserves, and 10% of its copper reserves; while the gold potential is substantially under explored. Most of the known mineral wealth is concentrated near the country’s eastern borders, and south into Katanga where it shares the rich Copperbelt of the Lufilian Arc with neighbouring Zambia.  In the south-central area of the country there is a large, prolific diamond area within the Kasaï Craton; along and adjoining the north-easterly Angolan kimberlite trend.

By 2001, the mining sector’s contribution to GDP had declined to a depressing 7%. Fortunately, legitimate mining companies have shown an increasing interest in the DRC with inward investment growing year on year (based on increased metal demand particularly from Asia and buoyant international commodity mineral prices). Although from the outside, progress has been slow, in 2006, 57% of the state budget (US$2.2 billion) came from international aid and 80% of the country’s economy was ‘underground’ and informal. The transitional government did make some rather commendable efforts to reignite and increase investment in the mining sector; for instance, with the help of the World Bank, the DRC implemented a new Mining Code in 2002, Mining Regulations in 2003 and more recently a Mining Plan in 2006.

In 2005 a special National Assembly Commission (the Lutundula Commission) highlighted that some of the industrial mining contracts agreed and negotiated during the period of   the transitional governments might need to be renegotiated and finally in May 2007 the government announced that it intended to review sixty-three mining contracts approved from 1996 to 2003. The process involved experts from Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa (OSISA), the Carter Centre and the Rothschild Cabinet. It opened the door to more than just a review of contracts; it opened the door to renegotiation under pressure, which was not the original intent. Many of these contracts have been renegotiated and several key large-scale miners have been disenfranchised in the process.

The DRC’s economic collapse, social instability, and resource plunder have resulted in a proliferation of clandestine artisanal mining activities in the DRC, and today the situation in the sub-sector could be described as utterly chaotic with little respect for law and order in almost all mining areas in virtually all provinces. In addition, the two wars, foreign army invasions and occupations, militia activity, and ethnic conflict have created large numbers of internally displaced people (IDPs) and ex-combatants (including DDRRR (Disarmament, Demobilisation, Repatriation, Reinsertion, Reintegration) beneficiaries) who have few livelihood options.  In some areas, such as Orientale, up to 80% of the miners are ex-combatants (militia and soldiers), a livelihood which is keeping them from re-joining militia forces. Also, the prolonged presence of violent militias in many rural areas forced many farming communities to abandon their traditional agro-pastoral livelihoods and rely on coping strategies such as artisanal mining (‘ASM’) to secure an alternative source of income.

At present, this disorganised and recalcitrant sector probably provides a vital livelihood to many thousands of people dispersed throughout the country, and collectively probably constitutes over 80% of the entire mining sector production. The Office des Douanes et Accises (OFIDA) does not have accurate statistics on mineral production.  In addition, escalating and fluctuating global mineral commodity prices, continued national economic decline, parastatal mismanagement, and staff retrenchments have exacerbated the problem and swelled the numbers of artisanal miners. However, as there is currently no enabling legislation or policy sympathetic to ASM, and because virtually all these miners work casually, seasonally, or are migrant workers from other parts of the country or neighbouring countries, it is impossible to determine the actual number of workers in the ASM sector.

A concomitant development of this type of production has been the development of a semi-clandestine transport sector. Illegal activities have benefited from the evolution of the means of transportation in the region.  Prior to the second war most exchanges of goods and products were conducted through road transportation.  To a large extent, smugglers utilized Lake Kivu and Lake Tanganyika to smuggle goods and products to and from the Democratic Republic of the Congo and, in limited circumstances, used aircraft.  An increasing number of aircraft are utilized to transport products and arms into the Democratic Republic of the Congo, while transferring out vast quantities of agricultural products and minerals, to Kampala and Kigali.  The other novelty of increased air transport has been the use of aircraft leased by the army for commercial and non-military functions.

This change in mode of transportation was accompanied by a change in players as well as a redefining of transportation companies.  Traditional and well-established companies such as TMK saw their share of the market erode while others simply disappeared (Air Cargo Zaire).  At the same time, new companies emerged and expanded, such as Air Navette and Jambo Safari; they were owned or controlled by the relatives and friends of generals, colonels and Presidents.  At the other end, outsiders who entered the region with the AFDL “conquest” of Kinshasa during the first war, by transporting troops, remained and consolidated their positions. Most flights to and from Equateur and Orientale Provinces originate from the Entebbe military airport.  This raised the issue of revenue loss to the treasury due to the fact that products entering or leaving the Democratic Republic of the Congo by air to and from Entebbe military airport were not checked, and taxes were not levied by the customs services. The essence of the institutionalisation of trade in minerals was that it was conducted with a hands-on control by the African presidents.

President Paul Kagame has been one of the two main beneficiaries of the use of illegal miners in the DRC. His position in the State apparatus with regard to the exploitation of the natural resources of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the continuation of the war has evolved, yet his role has remained pivotal.  This role can be situated on three levels: his relations with the Rwandan business community operating in the Democratic Republic of the Congo control over the army, and the structures involved in the illegal activities.

President Kagame has close relationships with top Rwandan businessmen.  For instance, he maintains good relations with Modeste Makabuza, “owner” of Jambo Safari.  He is also close to Alfred Khalissa, the “founder” of BCDI and former manager of BCD.  The same sources say that President Kagame is very close to Tibere Rujigiro, who is known for generous financial support to RPF during the 1990-1994 war.  Mr.  Rujigiro is one of the shareholders of Tristar Investment, with very close ties to RPF.  This close aide to President Kagame has business relationships with Faustin Mbundu, who is known for his arms dealing activities.  What all these businessmen have in common is their direct involvement in the exploitation of natural resources in the areas that Rwanda controls.  Different sources have related that each of these businessmen has at a certain point benefited from the President’s “help”.

President Kagame, when he was Minister of Defence, reorganized or approved the reorganization of the Rwandan army and the Ministry of Defence, which subsequently led to the creation of the Department of External Relations in which the Congo desk is located. This unit has been the cornerstone of the financial transactions of RPA.  The former Minister of Defence must have been aware of the functioning of RPA as well as the daily operations of the army.

The President announced in a radio interview that private Rwandan citizens were carrying out commercial activities in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.   The President has admitted in the past that the conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo was self-financing.  All these elements combined suggest the President’s degree of knowledge of the situation, his implicit approval of the continuation of the illegal exploitation of the resources of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and somehow his complicity as well as his political and moral responsibility.

President Yoweri Museveni.  President Yoweri Museveni’s role in the exploitation of the natural resources of the Democratic Republic of the Congo can be situated at the following levels: his policy towards the rebel movements, his attitude towards the army and the protection provided to illegal activities and their perpetrators.

He shaped the rebellion in the area controlled by Uganda according to his own political philosophy and agenda.  He opted for a more decentralized authority and only intervened when major problems arose, but he had a very good knowledge of the situation on the ground.

Messrs.  Mbusa Nyamwisi and Tibasima, former first and second Vice-Presidents close to General Salim Saleh and General Kazini, are more inclined to business and the extraction of natural resources.  In December 1999, a report was handed over to the President of Uganda, specifically pointing out the embezzlement of $10 million by Mr.  Nyamwisi and $3 million by Mr.  Tibasima.  Another report was handed to President Museveni in February 2000, specifically denouncing the collusion between Trinity Group and Mr. Tibasima and the impact on the collection of customs duties.  President Museveni chose to appoint the leadership of his Congolese Liberation Front to those who were the accomplices of illegal cartels.

President Museveni was also informed of the situation on the ground, the exploitation being carried out and the involvement of officials of MLC and RCDML, including the conflict between Hemas and Lendus. The President’s family has also been very involved in business in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in the occupied zones.  General Salim Saleh and his wife, shareholders in Victoria and Trinity, have confidently carried out their activities undisturbed. So, overall, it is clear that when the information is passed to the President and he chooses not to act, he appoints the very people who carry out criminal activities, and when his family members get away with their commercial endeavours, he does everything to assist and protect them.

III. The Battle For Political Power In The DRC:

The fortunes of the international mining companies in the DRC are intimately interwoven with the struggle of Joseph Kabila to remain in power as President of the country long after his constitutional mandate has expired. Elections have been due for several years and the search for a new leadership among the opposition groups to Kabila has had a dramatic effect on the fortunes of the international mining companies. In addition, the old division between Katanga and the rest of the DRC has not abated; also colouring the power relationships for the miners.

There are more than two-hundred ethnic groups in the Congo as a whole. About 80% of these peoples speak Bantu languages. Of the four major national ethnic clusters, three are Bantu: the Mongo, the Luba, and the Kongo. The fourth is the Mangbetu-Azande cluster of north-eastern Congo, speakers of Sudanic languages. Together, the Mongo, Luba, Kongo, and Mangbetu-Azande account for about 45% of the Congolese population. However, these ethnic clusters are not the most relevant indicators of ethnicity. Often, they are divided e.g., Luba-Kasai. Luba-Katanga, or Tetela (Mongo of Kasai) vs. Mongo-Equateur. Much of the fighting since 1994 has taken place in North and South Kivu, along Congo’s eastern border and in Katanga. In North Kivu can be found Rwandan language-speakers (both Hutu and Tutsi) who constitute a major ethnic community. In South Kivu, the major group is Shi. The most fractious and problematical are the Tutsis in exile, the “Banyamulenge”, who are few in number but with disproportionate power.

Laurent Kabila came to power as head of the AFDL, a coalition of anti-Mobutu groups in which Rwandan and Congolese Tutsi (the Banyamulenge) occupied key positions. Kabila strengthened his position by bringing in Congolese from his home province of Katanga. The split with his Tutsi backers led to the second war in which Ugandan and Rwandan soldiers fought alongside dissident Banyamulenge.

However, the Kabila 1 government remained divided between Kivu and Katanga factions, the latter in turn split between Luba-Katanga (ethnic group of Laurent Kabila’s father) and Lunda (ethnic group of his mother). The assassination of Laurent Kabila was blamed on soldiers from Kivu, but in the aftermath, leading Lunda figures were arrested.

Joseph Kabila’s own background has been contested. Some have questioned whether he is the son of Laurent. It has been alleged that his mother is a Banyamulenge Tutsi. The official version is that his mother is a Bangubangu from Maniema. The issue of Joseph Kabila’s legitimacy as a Congolese is a critical issue.

When “Mzee” Kabila was assassinated by one of his bodyguards on January 18, 2000 in the midst of the war, it was decided that his 24-year-old son, Joseph Kabila, recently elevated to an army general, would replace him. This caused quite an uproar from some quarters of the opposition, especially from the veteran opposition leader Etienne Tshisekedi, who protested what they saw as a monarchical succession. It’s bizarre to see in the intervening years Joseph Kabila, through an orchestrated campaign by the opposition, morph into the “foreign Rwandan usurper” at the helm of the Congo in the eyes of a considerable number of Western Congolese living mostly abroad who are very active organizing muscular anti-Kabila 2 campaigns in European capitals.

It was very important that Joseph Kabila assert his legitimacy as a ‘true’ Congolese and Katangan. He did so through his mother, Maman Sifa Maanya, always referred to as “Mama Sifa”. Mama Sifa Kabila was the first wife (of three) of Laurent Kabila. She fled with Kabila into the bush immediately after the assassination of Patrice Emery Lumumba on 17th January 1961; Laurent Désiré then succeeded in setting up a maquis in the East in 1965. They began in the Fizi region where they located their staff headquarters, but had to move to the mountains, running away from Mobutu’s army attacks. There were Hewa Bora I, Hewa Bora II, Makanga encampments but it was at Kasingere that they founded the People’s Revolutionary Party (PRP). It was there that in 1971, her first children, the twins Jaynet and Joseph were born. Then other births followed: Joséphine, Zoé, and Masengo. Soon after they fled to Tanzania

Joseph Kabila was recognized as head of state by a number of foreign governments, which gave him a considerable advantage in dealing with opposition groups. Kabila has been very active in Katanga in promoting local ethnic loyalties and groups. The memory of the forced ‘ethnic cleansing’ of Kivu immigrants in 1992 was not far from anyone’s mind. In 1992 and 1993, UNIFEC’s president, Antoine Gabriel Kyungu wa Kumwanza, incited supporters to massacre as many as 5,000 Kasaians living in Katanga and forcibly returned another 1.35 million back to Kivu.

It was important for Kabila 2 to take over power in Katanga and the mining industry. Seizing the initiative (on the urgings of his Belgian and French advisers) Joseph Kabila, by an order dated 12 January 2008, massively increased his economic power and his political patronage. He replaced the heads of 37 state enterprises with his own men. The former bosses, appointed under pressure from his government’s international protectors by the transitional government in August 2005, came from parties and movements that Kabila did not control. Most of the new chairmen and chief executives belong to Kabila’s Alliance pour la Majorité Présidentielle (AMP). Less senior managers have been recruited by competition and a few were internal promotions. These state companies control mining, transport, power and public finance. Kabila 2’s patronage links includes:

  • Office des Mines d’Or de Kilo-Moto (OKIMO)
  • Centre d’Expertise, d’Evaluation et de Certification (CEEC)
  • Entreprise Minière Kisenge-Manganèse (EKM)
  • Congolaise des Hydrocarbures (Cohydro)
  • Société Nationale d’Electricité (SNEL)
  • Lignes Aériennes Congolaises (LAC)
  • Compagnie Maritime Congolaise (CMC)
  • Office National des Transports (ONATRA)
  • Régie des Voies Fluviales (RVF)
  • Régie des Voies Aériennes (RVA)
  • Fonds de Promotion de l’Industrie (FPI)
  • Office de Gestion de la Dette Publique (OGEDEP)
  • Institut National de Sécurité Sociale (INSS)
  • Caisse d’Epargne du Congo (CADECO)
  • Société Sidérurgique de Maluku (SOSIDER)
  • Office Congolais de Contrôle (OCC)
  • Office de Gestion du Fret Maritime (OGEFREM)
  • Office National du Tourisme (ONT)
  • Radio Télévision Nationale Congolaise (RTNC)
  • Agence Congolaise de Presse (ACP)
  • Office Congolais des Postes et des Télécommunications (OCPT)
  • Agence Nationale de Météorologie et de Télédétection par Satellite (METTELSAT)
  • Office des Routes (OR)
  • Office des Voieries et Drainages (OVD)
  • Institut National d’Etudes et de Recherches Agronomiques (INERA)
  • Institut National de Statistique (INS)
  • Institut Congolais pour la Conservation de la Nature (ICCN)
  • Institut des Jardins Zoologiques et Botaniques du Congo (IJZBC)
  • Office National du Café (ONC)
  • Foire Internationale de Kinshasa (FIKIN)

Parallel to this the new Kabila Government decided that it was time to look at all the concessions and fringe operators in the mining sector, especially in Katanga.

The government announced in mid-2007 that it would investigate about 60 mining contracts, agreed while the civil wars raged from 1996 to 2003.

The origin of this review of international mining practices was the move by the Indonesian government which imposed new rules on the exports of unprocessed ore. Its goal was to develop a domestic smelting industry, thus creating jobs and revenue. It also demanded that foreign investors sell down their majority stakes within 10 years of starting production. This spurred on Tanzania. The government imposed a ban on exports of powdered gold concentrate, ostensibly because it, too, wanted to develop a smelting industry. The country’s biggest miner, London-listed Acacia, was suddenly unable to export 30pc of its output, sending its share price into a tailspin. Tanzania then accused it of dodging taxes by under-reporting the amount of gold it shipped abroad. John Magufuli, the Tanzania president slapped a tax demand of $180bn (£128bn) on Acacia – many times greater than its annual revenue of $1bn.

These moves inspired Kabila 2 to restructure the DRC Mining Code. The daunting task of this investigation fell on a joint team from the government body supposed to guide the reform of parastatals, the Comité de Pilotage de la Réforme des Entreprises Publiques, and from the ministries of Mines and of State Assets. They were supervised by the United States-based Carter Center, with experts from Rothschild’s Bank.  Kabila’s new government was trying to deflect outside critics and to attract reliable investors. His Prime Minister, Antoine Gizenga, promised reform during the election campaign and in March 2007, the Mines Minister, Martin Kabwelulu Labilo, instructed all state companies to suspend negotiations with potential foreign partners. Non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and United Nations’ experts had urged this suspension. Moreover, the Lutundula Report, by a commission of the Transitional Assembly, had identified contracts to be renegotiated, cancelled or maintained.

 Two-thirds of the contracts under investigation involved projects in Katanga and the state companies Gécamines, Kisenge Manganèse and the Société de Développement Industriel et Minier du Congo. Also under investigation were the Société Minière de Bakwanga (Miba) in Kasaï, owned 80% by the state, 20% by South Africa’s Mwana Africa; the Office des Mines d’Or de Kilo-Moto and Société Aurifère et Industrielle du Kivu et du Maniema, whose main shareholder is Banro, a Canadian gold company. The DRC move was followed by copper-rich Zambia which hit First Quantum with a $7.9bn bill for alleged unpaid taxes.

The mining industry’s long-standing answer to questions of tax and its wider contribution to society boils down to investment. Identifying and then building mine sites is a hugely expensive undertaking, requiring years of work. It can take years before mines turn a profit. The large upfront capital costs explain why many companies pay little or no taxes when starting out. Under its new code, the DRC increased royalties on base metals from 2pc to 3.5pc. So-called “strategic minerals” could face a 10pc levy. Royalties are essentially a rental payment from mining companies to the ultimate owner of the mineral: the state. Controversially, the DRC has ripped up a “stability clause” dating from 2002, which gave companies a 10-year stay of execution on any change to the law.

Until 1990 the government enterprise Gecamines, which owned all the mining rights in Katanga, was the government’s money-spinner, providing at least one third of the government’s income. The secret of this high profitability was that the ore was refined on a large scale in Congo itself, up to purity of 98%; giving value-added to the export of just ore. This has changed dramatically. Shares of Gecamines have gradually been privatized through joint ventures in which Gecamines contributed its mining rights and the private partners put up the money.

In 2002, a UN panel recommended that 29 companies – including the George Forrest Group – face sanctions for their operations in DR Congo. The panel’s report accused the George Forrest Group of running its mineral operations in a way that took as much profit as possible out of the country, while bringing minimal benefit to DR Congo.

The panel called for financial restrictions to be levied on 54 individuals and 29 companies it said were involved in the plunder, including four Belgian diamond companies and the Belgian company George Forrest, which is partnered with the U.S.-based OM.  The individuals named include Rwandan army Chief of Staff James Kabarebe, Congolese Minster of the Presidency Augustin Katumba Mwanke, Ugandan army Chief of Staff James Kazini and Zimbabwean Parliament Speaker Emmerson Mnangagwa.

The report also accused 85 South African, European and U.S. multinational corporations — including Anglo American, Barclays Bank, Bayer, De Beers and Cabot Corporation — of violating the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s ethical guidelines on conflict zones.

In 2006 Australia’s Anvil paid over $50 million for the Kinsevere, Tshiufa and Nambulwa mines, north-west of Lubumbashi. The seller was MCK, controlled by Katanga Governor Moise Katumbi. MCK had acquired the rights from Gécamines without payment. Anvil’s position is protected because its contract was signed after 2003 and its board included for several years Katanga’s former Governor and presidential advisor Augustin Katumba Mwanke. It subsequently set up an ‘offtake’ agreement with Trafigura as a means of acquiring capital.

The late Augustin Katumba Mwanke is a very important figure in the symbiotic relationship between national DRC politics, Katangan politics and the mining industries. Augustin Katumba Mwanke, one of the most influential personalities in the DRC, was a mechanical engineer by training, a former employee at South African Bateman before the 1996-1997 war. He was at the centre of the main transactions in the Congolese mining sector for several years. As governor of Katanga, in 1998 he placed his signature at the bottom of the contract – annulled in 2000 – which gave the Zimbabwean firm Ridgepoint, headed by Billy Rautenbach, 80% shares in the mines and industrial plant belonging to Gecamines at the mining town of Kakanda. Elected as a deputy in 2006, Mwanke had already been appointed as deputy minister to the presidency in charge of the government’s portfolio in April He was appointed governor of Katanga by Laurent Désiré Kabila who found him a loyal ally. In 1998, when the DRC was invaded by the military forces of Uganda and Rwanda, Kabila asked and was given assistance by Angola, Zimbabwe and Namibia. 2001. He added this position to his role as director of Anvil Mining until 2004. These three countries sent troops and supplies to assist Kabila. Because of the war and the disruption Kabila did not have the money available to help pay for this assistance. He relied on loans from Angola and opened up his mining sector, particularly diamonds, to the Zimbabweans to help defray the costs of the war. Mwanke played an important role in the negotiations with Dos Santos in Angola and Emmerson Mnangagwa in Zimbabwe.

Augustin Katumba Mwanke, one of Mr Kabila’s—and his father’s—closest advisers, was appointed executive secretary of the Alliance pour la majorité présidentielle (AMP), the main support and co-ordinating group for Joseph Kabila’s presidency. Augustin Katumba Mwanke, held the PPRD together and fostered a close relationship with the National Assembly leader Evariste Boshab. However, in 2010 in the preparations for the Presidential election in 2011 Mwanke left the AMP and was ostensibly preparing to become a candidate for the Presidency. Kabila 2 won the contested election against veteran politician Etienne Tshisekedi. Mwanke died in an unfortunate accident in February 2012.

Kabila 2 refused to leave office when his term expired in December 2016. The country’s electoral commission said at the time that it could not organise elections until 2018 because violence in the eastern Kasai region had impeded registration of voters. There was an electoral pact made by former Katanga governor Moise Katumbi Chapwe and Felix Tshisekedi to run against Kabila 2, but Moise Katumbi had to leave the DRC to avoid imprisonment by Kabila. He continues to campaign, but from exile. In August 2018 Kabila 2 agreed to proceed to a presidential election in which he would not stand as a candidate. He blessed the candidature of former interior minister Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary; a Kabila 2 protégé.

At present both sides are preparing for the presidential election although Moise Katumbi is unlikely to return to the DRC or be approved as candidate; just as Bemba was not approved to run for the presidency after his return from the ICC.

IV. The Katanga Connection

Moïse Katumbi Chapwe was born on 28 December 1964 to a Congolese mother and an Italian Jewish father, Nissim Soriano, who migrated to the DRC from his native island of Rhodes (Greece).  Katumbi’s mother was of the Kazembe royalty line of Lunda People of the Congo and Zambia. His father settled in Kashobwe, near the Zambian border, and made a substantial living from the trade in fish from neighbouring Lake Mweru. When Mobutu demanded that the Zairians change their names to more African names, the Sorianos chose Katumbi from the mother’s side.

Katumbi’s career began by selling salted and fresh fish to the state-owned mining company Gécamines. In 1987, he created the holding company Etablissement Katumbi to aggregate all of his business activities including mining, transportation, and food processing. Katumbi founded MCK (Mining Company Katanga) in 1997, which specialized in mining and logistics and became a subcontractor for the mining companies in the region, including Gécamines. By 2015, the company had grown to 1900 employees and was a leading mining company in the country. A French company Necotrans bought MCK in November 2015 for an undisclosed amount. Around 2000, during the Second Congo War, Katumbi moved to Zambia, where he had business ties in transportation. He returned to the DRC in 2003 by invitation from President Kabila, who urged Katumbi to help fix the mining industry in Katanga.

In 2006, Katumbi was elected as a deputy in the National Assembly and then won election as Governor of the Katanga Province in January 2007. While he was governor he immersed himself in the mining industries and carried on with his own companies engaged in that industry. Most importantly, his transport company, Hakuna Matata, provided transport for much of the exported minerals and had an unusually clear run of customs facilities on the Katangan-DRC border.

Katumbi’s governance improved the revenue stream for Katanga and encouraged private enterprise. Shortly after he took office as governor, Katumbi implemented an export ban for raw minerals, including cobalt, forcing major mining companies to either build processing plants in the province or pay a tax on the exported concentrate. Under Katumbi, copper production increased from 8,000 metric tons in 2006 to more than 1 million tons in 2014.

One advantage of Katumbi in his role as governor was his association with both Kabila 2 and Kabila’s friend, the Israeli entrepreneur Dan Gertler. Gertler used to fly to Lubumbashi with kosher meals to share with Katumbi. Gertler was also the partner and stalking horse for Glencore in the copper and cobalt industries as well as for the Och-Ziff and ENRC associates. The initial link for Gertler was his ties with the Ultra-Orthodox Chabad movement. The current leader of the DRC Jewish community, Aslan Piha, who also serves as the editor-in-chief of Kadima (the Jewish quarterly of Kinshasa created in 2004), was born and grew up in Lubumbashi.

The government has exploited legal woes of Katumbi to keep him out of the Presidential race
The government has exploited legal woes of Katumbi to keep him out of the Presidential race

In mid-2016 Katumbi’s term as Governor of Katanga ended. At that point Katumbi broke ranks with Kabila 2 and decided that he would be a candidate for the Presidency. At that point Kabila retaliated. He began to close down the Katumbi business empire. Pascal Nyembo, national coordinator of the fight against mining fraud in the DRC, was turned loose on Katumbi’s business partners and made a special appeal against Glencore and Gerald Metals and the smuggling of ores and concentrates across the border, largely on Katumbi’s trucks. Two of Gerald’s managers were kidnapped in Kinshasa and required a negotiation with Nyembo. Sources say that $300,000 was spent on legal fees to free them and an additional $ 3 million to the authorities in 2017 to continue operating the DRC.

The trucks which were carrying the ores and metals were impounded at the border and, despite the good efforts of Gerald’s staff and friends, they were not released. The Chinese deal was dead, and the reputation of the metal traders was diminished through court cases and rumours.

Mining in the DRC is never easy or straightforward. However, if there is one lesson to be learned it is that putting one’s faith in the survival of an African politician, however shrewd and brave, is never a wise move. The culture and history of the DRC should be ample warning of this.

V. The December Election

The DRC will finally go to the polls on 23 December 2018 unless there are further delays. The voters will be faced by a choice of up to nineteen candidates; some with better chances than the others. Joseph Kabila’s ruling party will be represented by Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary, the candidate blessed by Kabila. Shadary was Governor of Maniema Province and served Kabila as interior minister. He is a founder member of Kabila’s ruling Peoples’ Party for Reconciliation and Democracy (PPRD). He is not particularly popular throughout the country; he is also under European Union and U.S. sanctions for his alleged role in human rights violations.

When the Kabila faction was preparing for the election in July 2018 it created the Common Front for Congo (FCC), which named Kabila as its moral authority and pressed for support of a single candidate for the presidency. When the candidate turned out not to be Kabila (who was persuaded not to run) his Minister Tryphon Kin-Kiey Mulumba decided to run against Shadary. Bruno Tshibala Nzenze, the current Prime Minister (who took his office in November 2017 after receiving a provisional release from prison) decided to run when Kabila was forced to decline his candidacy for the election..

There are also candidates from the Opposition, led most formidably by Felix Tshisekedi, son of the veteran opposition leader Etienne Tshisekedi, and Vital Kamerhe, a former Kabila ally turned opponent. The 92-year old Antoine Gizenga, of the Lumumbist Party, is running again.

Jean-Pierre Bemba, recently released from the ICC detention, has been banned from running and Moise Katumbi, who was not allowed home from exile to file his candidate’s papers in person will not be a candidate was ruled out of contention. The main runners are Shadary, with the Kabila machine behind him, and Felix Tshisikedi who effectively represents the surviving opposition negotiations and deals. Under the current rules (changed months before the last elections in 2011), the DRC’s next president could come to power with just 5.3% of the vote.

Under DRC’s electoral rules, the president is elected in a single round, making it one of the few African countries where executive presidents are popularly elected through the plurality system. Under this arrangement, whoever garners the most votes wins, even if they are far short of a majority. That means that with 19 candidates currently on the ballot, DRC’s next president could – in theory – be elected with just 5.3% of the vote

Such a breakdown is, of course, highly unlikely. In the 2011 elections, President Joseph Kabila won with 49%. In 2018, several candidates are already polling in the double-figures. Yet unless things change, it is still likely that the DRC’s next president will come to office in a fragile and divided nation with a majority of his compatriots – perhaps a large majority – having voted for someone else.[i]

It is widely believed that if Shardary wins the Presidency he will name Joseph Kabila as his Prime minister.


* The author is the editor and publisher of the web-based news journal of international relations www.ocnus.net and the distance-learning educational website www.worldtrade.ac. He speaks and reads 12 languages and has written six books and published 58 specialist studies. His articles have appeared in the Economist Intelligence Unit, Wall Street Journal, WPROST (a leading Polish weekly news magazine), Pravda and several other major international news journals

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