"Africa is, indeed, coming into fashion." - Horace Walpole (1774)


oh, for heaven's sake

I can't wait to see Enough's press release on this one:
Mining in three provinces of eastern Democratic Republic of Congo has been banned on the orders of the President Joseph Kabila.

President Kabila ordered the indefinite suspension during a visit to the mining hub town of Walikale.

The president said he wanted to weed out what he called a "kind of mafia" involved in the mining industry.

Control over mining minerals like coltan and cassiterite has fuelled conflict between rebel groups.

The minerals are used in mobile phones and computers.

The ban covers the provinces of North Kivu, South Kivu and Maniema.
So many questions, so little time. But here are a few:
  • How does Kabila think his government/army/police will enforce this ban? The national army can't and won't do it, MONUSCO's not capable of (or mandated to) monitor border traffic in the ways this ban would require, and the border police are still very much engaged in the practice of augmenting their meager incomes with bribes from whomever will pay them.
  • Or, perhaps more importantly, why does Kabila think anyone with even the slightest knowledge about the eastern DRC would believe that such a ban is even remotely enforceable?
  • What happens to the hundreds of thousands of people in the Kivus and Maniema whose primary or sole source of income is mining?
  • And does Kabila think he'll get their votes in next year's presidential elections by taking this course?
  • What about mining in areas of the provinces that are at peace? Ituri's off the hook. Why not other non-militarized mines?
  • Who's about to get really, really, really, really, really, really, really mad at Kabila for threatening to cut off one of their sources of income? Many of these mines have prominent investors in the business and political sectors.


Anonymous PDX Pete said...

Not to quibble here, and I doubt it will happen, but the cassiterite moves out of Walikale by airplanes that land and take off from a stretch of paved road. A couple of barrels filled with rocks shut it down.

But someone has to place the barrels there, and keep them there. And lots of people have incentive to remove the barrels.

Saturday, September 11, 2010 11:09:00 AM

Blogger texasinafrica said...

Oh, I know. I think it might be possible to shut some of this down in Walikale, at least in the short term (If I know the Congolese, they'll find a way). But Kabila's talking about all of North and South Kivu and Maniema. It's impossible.

Saturday, September 11, 2010 8:29:00 PM

Anonymous Francois said...

There's always two schools of thought on the sapeur-Rais (same was true of his papa as well):
1. He's an idiot playboy who can't tie his own shoelaces.
2. He's a Machiavellian mastermind whose greatest weapon is appearing to be an idiot playboy who can't tie his own shoelaces.
You've been to Congo, you know. Talk to Congolese and you'll hear both theories, sometimes in the same sentence.

Here I think as always it's safe to go with the second. Of course he can't enforce it across the board. Obviously that's not the point.

But combine it with the UN rape report and he's now got juridical standing to do some strategic purges and good old fashioned show trials.

Or maybe he really is a half-wit. I don't know...

Saturday, September 11, 2010 10:39:00 PM

Blogger texasinafrica said...

Francois, I think he's a pretty smart guy, and I am quite certain that someone will continue to benefit from mining operations in the region despite the so-called ban.

Unlike my Kinois friends, however, I don't believe Kabila is secretly Rwandan. Ah, le radio trottoir...

Sunday, September 12, 2010 2:45:00 PM


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