On September 11th, 2010 the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s (DRC) president Joseph Kabila put a moratorium on all artisan mining in the provinces of North Kivu, South Kivu and Maniema. These are the provinces which still are experiencing violence as a result of the economic war waged against the DRC by Rwanda and its allies Uganda and Burundi in 1996. But even if the foreign armies were ordered out of the Congo in 2003, it is important to note that the Rwandan government’s political, military and economic interference in Congo is ongoing and strong.
Evidence on the ground shows that the president’s artisan mining ban was not enforced. In fact, the Congolese army sent to protect and drive out all armed groups from the mines has defied the president’s order and joined the illegal mining and sales networks it is mandated to dismantle and stop.
A Congolese human rights activist, who has seen sacs of minerals leave DRC for Burundi, put it this way: “No Congolese official has authority. The president’s moratorium on mining in eastern provinces of Congo has no effect. Mining is ongoing as before the ban.” No development, no effective peace or civilian protection plan, no wages for soldiers and state employees, these are obvious signs of a government with no credibility. The Congolese people live according to what the former dictator President Mobutu Sese Seko told them to do when they asked him for their rights: “help yourself”, he told them, which is commonly known as “Article 15.” Thus, a soldier deployed in the mining area, can extort the people because according to “Article 15”; where someone works is where they get their wage. Also, when a soldier gets assigned to a rich area, he owes a portion back to the officer who assigned him. This is one of the many ways corruption was endorsed by Mobutu’s regime and embraced by many Congolese people as a way of life.
The Congolese army’s involvement in the illegal mineral sales network is a matter of national security. The army whose mission is to defend the nation has instead compromised its security by collaborating with various rebel groups, who have undermined Congo’s peace and stability since 1996. To end the army’s involvement in the conflict mineral sales and mining, the Congolese government must, among other things, break the mafia-like chain-of-kickbacks that extends from administrators in the capital to soldiers in the field. To achieve this goal, it requires a visionary leader to carry out the imperative and overdue security sector reform.
On January 7, 11 Africa Faith and Justice Network signed on to a letter to US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton asking to help the Congolese government in different areas including reforming the Congolese security sector. Read the letter here.
Below are resources on conflict mineral advocacy and more
Alternative civil society summit on the illegal Exploitation of natural resources in the great Lakes region: Final communique
SEC Initiatives under the Dodd-Frank Act Special Disclosures Section 1502 (Conflict Minerals)
SEC Initiatives under the Dodd-Frank Act – Special Disclosures Section 1502 (Conflict Minerals)
International Court of Justice (Democratic Republic of the Congo vs. Rwanda) filled June 1999. Armed activities on the territory of the Congo ( This document is in French and English, just scroll down)
Tin and tantalum industries target 31st March 2011 for full implementation of iTSCi conflict mineral tagging
Cabot Corporation, Trinitech Holdings and OM Group Inc. allegations concerning direct or indirect complicity in fueling the natural- resource driven war in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) 2004.
By Jacques Bahati