Congo Chronicle XII

november 10 - 23, 1997

sources: NCN, De Standaard, NRC, Reuters, ACP

UN-investigation on the murder of the Hutu refugees

The three leaders of the UN-team been returned in Kinshasa on tuesday november 11. Their intention is to make first some appointments with the Congolese government and then to start the investigation in different parts of the country. The Congolese government has set up an interministerial liaison group to cooperate with the UN team led by Emmanuel Kamanzi. In the next days no meeting with these liaison group has taken place; so some media spoke again of new problems between the UN-team and the government of Kabila. But on november 18, there was a meeting between the UN-team and the ministers Mr. Karaha and Mr. Kongolo, respectively of Foreign Affairs and Interior.

Garreton UN-report / reaction of Kapanga

On november 11, Reuters mentions the recent publication of a very critical report by UN rapporteur Roberto Garreton. In Congo, the regime has eliminated the civil rights to life, liberty and physical integrity, the report says. The right of political participation is suspended, no measures are taken to ensure the economic, social and cultural rights. About the Tutsi, Garreton says, that "one ethnic group predominates over hundreds of others, while the new armed forces and police are at the services of the political and ethnic power group in the government."
(note: This report of Garreton seems us a somewhat outdated. In the meantime the government of Kabila has taken steps towards democratic development, like the institution of the Constitutional Committee. It is also clear from many sources that the power of Tutsi has decreased and perhaps nearly totally pushed back.Thus, Garreton's remarks do not agree with the current events. Anyway, the Dutch Television (TROS-2Vandaag) has focused on Congo because of the appearance of the Garreton report.In an emission on wednesday november 12, accusations were made again towards the Kabila government concerning the murder of Hutu refugees. It gave a very negative image of the developments in Congo. Congo-Ned sent to the TROS a copy of the confidential UNHCR message about murders committed by the Hutu militia on their own people. So we hope that the partiality of the media will be adjusted.)

The UN Ambassador of Congo, Mr Andre Kapanga, sent a letter to the UN Secretary General on november 14, asking for the withdrawal of the Garreton report. He says that the report undermines the investigation of the UN team now in Kinshasa.The report is superficial and partial, consequence of the fact that the rapporteur has been in Congo for one day only, the Ambassador says.


The German television ZDF transmitted information about a mass of gold hidden by a son of Mobutu on different places in Gambia. This son, Kongolo, who was the leader of the DSP, has brought this gold to Gambia in the latest years of life of his father.It concerns 6 tons of gold worth $ 90 million.For some time now between 80 to 100 kilo of this gold has been sold on international markets. There are allegations that part of the proceeds were being used to finance a military challenge to the Kabila government.


On november 14 a three day summit of 49 francophone countries started in Hanoi, Vietnam, under chairmanship of the french president mr Chirac. The Francophonie not only wants to promote French culure, but is also a means to strengthen political influence of France in the world. The structure has been reinforced by the appointment of mr Boutros Ghali as secretary general of the Francophonie. Kabila did not appear at the summit, although Congo (RDC) is the second largest francophone country in the world. At the Congolese state radio Information Minister, Raphael Ngenda, told that Congo wants to stay independent. In his opinion the Francophonie is a form of neocolonialism. The french minister for development aid, mr Josselin, regrets the attitude of Congo saying it is a task for Boutros Ghali to restore the relations with Congo. Lateron Kabila said to the press that the Congolese government had not yet an official stand about the Francophonie.


Direct information from Congo is now coming via Internet. The Congolese press agency ACP produces regular messages about actualities in Congo. We reproduce some of it here:
* On november 14 a press conference was held by 5 ministers. The minister for Planning and Development gave an explanation of the governments three-year plan. Priority is give to acces to energy and to medical care. The population is called on to pay there water and electricity bills. Fraud and other abuses in the energy companies, SNEL and REGIDESO, will be suppressed. Peoples comittees will be formed to participate in the controll of the use of water and electricity. The office that has to look after the confiscation of goods that were improperly obtained by members of the old regime, was severely adressed by the minister of Justice. The ministry will pronounce itself about the rightfulness of all confiscations.
* In Kinshasa the controll of the markets has been improved. For each market there will be a comittee to controll the activities of the AFDL cells on the market concerned. The task of these AFDL cells is to see that the policy of the Kabila government is brought into practice. It concerns especially the payment of municipal taxes and the combat of fraud. The AFDL members have to behave exemplariously, otherwise they will be prosecuted.
* The president of the AFDL section Bandalungwa (Kinshasa) reports that already 15.000 new members have presented themselves in his district.
* In Kinshasa the governor of Eastern Province, mr Jean Yagi Sitolo, has installed the national police for his province. It has to look after the security of the population; it has been instructed about the principles of justice, said Sitolo. He also called upon the new director of the contributions to abstain from harassment of businessmen and other taxpayers. In Kisangani children between 0 and 5 years have vaccinated for more than 100%; more children than registered presented themselves for the vaccination. Its concerns vaccination against polio and scarlet fever. It takes place in the whole country.

On november 19, Kabila has given a press conference. He adressed particularly the Congolese journalists. He does not ask of them blind obedience, but objectivity and responsability. These properties are important more than ever now the country is in a period of national reconstruction. Kabila answered a great number of questions.Obviously the foreign press was also present; on november 19, the correspondent of the Dutch paper NRC writes : "Kabila presents himself to the Congolese people" .

Concerning the problems of North and South Kivu, Kabila said a committee has been constituted by the government to resolve the ethnic tensions in these provinces. But it takes a lot of time to finish this work. Recently, two organisations have published reports about the Kivu troubles: the international World Food Organisation and the Belgian National Committee for Cooperation and Development. It seems that the Mai Mai together with ex-FAR and ex-FAZ military are fighting against the Congolese army, causing many victims among the civilians in Kivu.

(note: We are happy that Kabila and his government manifest more openly to the population: it was the first time that Kabila held a press conference ; the members of his government also give more often interviews. Besides, the website of ACP contains much information. So we get some first hand news now. To stay as broadly orientated as possible, we will continue to follow the other media too.)


There seem to be problems with the contracts between Kabila and American Mineral Fields. The contract about the exploitation of the Kolwezi coppermine was signed by Kabila and AMF in april 1997 provisionally. Kabila now wants to revise this contract. Probably the convention of april 1997 was not very advantageous for Congo; at that moment Kabila has signed too quickly because of his need of money for the war. The representative of AMF said to the press on november 15, that AMF is waiting for the formal ratification of the contract by the Congolese government.
The Canadian company Banro Resources has carried out investigations after the resources of diamond near Twangiza in Kivu.
The Belgian Forestgroup has signed a joint venture with the state company Gecamines for the exploitation of copper and cobalt in Luiswishi near Lubumbashi.
In the Belgian newspaper De Standaard of november 21 an interesting article appeared by the Belgian economist Jef Maton. Maton, a wellknown Zaire/Congo expert, praises the three-years plan for the reconstruction by the Kabila government. Central issues, besides the restarting of the mine industry, are the reconstruction of the infrastructure, basic medical care, education and security. Maton warns that there will be serious problems if the international community continues to deny help to Congo. In his report Maton says that if reconstruction succeeds, the BNP of Congo may raise in the end of 1999 to the same level as in 1992. International aid should be directed to the improvement of the infrastructure in order to create new development in agriculture. Writing about the donor conference of "Les Amis du Congo" on december 3 in Brussels under the auspices of World Bank, he urges to relief of the foreign dept of Congo, that was created by the Mobutu regime. The Kabila government has recognised that dept but, for good reasons in Maton's opinion, askes for rearrangement. Maton thinks that the Friends of Congo should take over a part of the dept to World Bank and IMF. He is concerned about what he calls the gamblers- market of Toronto. Speculators from Toronto continue to pay their respects in Kinshasa [Note: Probably he means AMF.] They are playing games -partly with US government support- on the basis of contracts they succeeded to wheedle during the beginning of the war. Maton:"The longer this play goes on, the longer the mine industry will have to wait for reconstruction. Also, the longer the Congolese state has to do without the tax contributions from this crucial industrial sector."

In the context of the donor conference also the report the Bechtel Corporation recently offered to Kabila is important. It has been called the "Marshall Plan for Congo". Initial estimates are that Congo's mineral resources are worth $157 billion. Seven major sources of wealth can be developed immediately:
* copper and cobalt in the southeast;
* daimonds in the south;
* gold and tin in the east;
* hydro-electric power in the Congo River;
* oil in the west;
* cash crops througout;
* forestry througout.
There are secundary plans for an improved railway system to connect Matadi to other sections of the country, to build roads, schools etc. Bechtel recommends to contact recognized experts to support the program. The whole plan aims to set the Congolese economy into motion quickly, and to create a market-oriented economy in the long run. The Congolese government has not yet given a reaction on the plan. The expectation is that the Bechtel plan will play a role at the donor conference on december 3.

It is not clear yet how the international community will react to the aid question of the Congolese government. In the Dutch paper NRC news correspondent Koert Lindijer writes: "Europe is divided about Kabila's Congo." According to France Kabila has to meet three conditions before financial aid can be granted. ( The UN investigation must be completed, democracy must be introduced, and the civil rights must be maintained.)

At a meeting of the American Congress the US Ambassador to the UN, Bill Richardson, has argued a financial aid of $ 100 million for the Congolese government.
In a letter to the Dutch Parliament (11/11), Minister Pronk informs circumstantially about his visit to Congo, october 19 - 20. At the end of his letter he says: " Assistance of the international community to Congo is necessary. At the one side there is a great need for humanitarian and rehabilitation aid for the Congolese population (...). On the other side it is necessary to give technical assistance to the Congolese government in support of the formulation of policies. These two forms of assistance can in my opinion start directly.(...) For the beginning and resumption of more structural cooperation the start of the UN-investigation is of great importance. The availabity of the results of this investigation must not be a condition in advance. Pronk considers the donor meeting of the "Amis du Congo" as a forum for a substantial discussion about the necessary development strategy of the Congolese government.On the basis of this discussion one can agree a frame-work for international cooperation.On the meeting a concrete plan for aid must be formed, according to Minister Pronk.

Information about Congo from the US Ambassador.

NCN informs about an interesting discussion with the US Ambassador to Congo, Mr Daniel Simpson. He too hopes that the donor meeting will be a success. The US has planned only $ 35 - 40 million aid to Congo for 1998. It's remarkable that Simpson says that exiles should go home to get involved in the reconstruction of their country. There is substantial freedom of speech, political parties, probably numbering at least 15, are very active they have offices and are putting articles in the newspapers. (note: These remarks of Mr Simpson seem in contradiction with the events of saturday november 22. A political meeting of the UDPS was broken up and a collaborator of Tshisekedi was arrested)
Mr Simpson further told that there is a important support for Kabila from the neighbouring countries.The South-South relation is developing well.

See also:chronicle 11