Former president Laurent-Desire Kabila and ongoing instability in DRC

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The following is an extract from a UN Report of the Panel of Experts on the Illegal Exploitation of Natural Resources and Other Forms of Wealth of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, submitted to the Security Council on 12 April 2001 by the Secretary General Kofi A. Annan. The reference points at some significant responsibility of the late president in the ineffective and inappropriate ways of handling Congolese mineral resources, of which consequences have found hard to fade away.

207. The late President Laurent-Désiré Kabila. His role in the continuation of the war has survived his death. On three levels, he bears part of the responsibility for the current situation. First, as the chief of AFDL, he created a precedent in giving a character of “legality” or legitimacy to otherwise illegal operations. During his advance on Kinshasa, he granted concessions even though he did not have authority to do so. These are the same methods being used by some armed groups to fight for power.

208. Second, he allowed and tolerated some unlawful ventures as a way of rewarding allies. He also initiated the barter system in order to defend his territory. This is gradually becoming the normal practice for the rebel groups.

209. Third, he offered a good excuse and a pretext to those who had carefully planned the redrawing of the regional map to redistribute wealth. Many sources have told the Panel how they were approached and asked to think about the distribution of wealth of the Democratic Republic of the Congo in terms of their personal enrichment.

the pivotal roles of the Ugandan and Rwandan leaders reside in the way in which they diverted the primary mission of their armies from protection of their territory and made them armies of business

210. According to the facts, accounts and information gathered, the pivotal roles of the Ugandan and Rwandan leaders reside in the way in which they diverted the primary mission of their armies from protection of their territory and made them armies of business. By the same token, they indirectly created within their armies conditions for top officers to put in place networks that they controlled. These networks are becoming cartels, which will take over the war for natural resources.

211. Presidents Kagame and Museveni are on the verge of becoming the godfathers of the illegal exploitation of natural resources and the continuation of the conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. They have indirectly given criminal cartels a unique opportunity to organize and operate in this fragile and sensitive region. Finally, the attitude of the late President has possibly planted the seeds for another round of war for resources in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Politicians such as Jean-Pierre Bemba, Mwenze Kongolo, Victor Mpoyo, Adolphe Onusumba, Jean-Pierre Ondekane and Emmanuel Kamanzi are ready to make any deal for the sake of power or for personal enrichment. Companies such as IDI and Sengamines some of which reportedly have ties with arms dealers, are likely to create a more troubling situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Equally, joint ventures and concessions given to some allies as rewards may cause some problems given the nature of the shareholders who are either armed forces or powerful and influential politicians. The situation is now deeply embedded and the regional power structures are consequently not stable.

joint ventures and concessions given to some allies as rewards may cause some problems given the nature of the shareholders who are either armed forces or powerful and influential politicians.

212. The link between the exploitation of natural resources and the continuation of the conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo does exist, and it is based on five factors which are not mutually exclusive. First, the capacity of countries to use their own resources to sustain the war up to a certain stage, as in the case of Angola. Second, the ability of countries to take resources from enemies and use it to fight the so-called “self-sustaining” war, as in the case of Rwanda. Third, the intent of some Governments to take advantage of the war situation and use it to transfer wealth from one country to their national economy, as is the case with Rwanda and Zimbabwe. Fourth, the will of private citizens and businesses who endeavour to sustain the war for political, financial or other gains; for example, generals and other top officers in the Ugandan and Zimbabwean army and other top officials and unsavoury politicians (Victor Mpoyo, Gaëtan Kakudji, Mwenze Kongolo) in the Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Fifth, the capacity of one of the warring parties to give incentives (mineral and others) to its allies and soldiers, for example the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

That the late president Laurent-Desire Kabila made mistakes during his time in office does not explain everything which went and continues to go wrong which DRC. The fact that more than a decade later, the central government in Kinshasa has been almost incapable of rectifying them finds answers in other areas. Understandably, countries and global multinationals with acute interests in DRC minerals have continued playing their part in ensuring that they don’t loose out from any fundamental change of the status quo they have so far benefited from.

The Rising Continent

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