African Nations Squeezing Congo

The United Nations didn’t make any friends in releasing a report accusing highly placed political and military officials in the Congo, Rwanda, Uganda and Zimbabwe of setting up criminal cartels to exploit mineral and gem resources in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Rwanda, Uganda and Zimbabwe withdrew their armed forces from the DR Congo as part of an agreement to bring a halt to that country’s civil war. But the United Nations report maintains that the military officials who were using their armies to strip DR Congo of precious minerals and gems have simply set up deeply entrenched criminal organizations to accomplish the same thing in their absence.

According to the report,

Three distinct criminal groups linked to the armies of Rwanda, Uganda and Zimbabwe and the Government of the DRC have benefited from overlapping micro-conflicts [and] will not disband voluntarily even as the foreign military forces continue their withdrawals.

. . .

The looting that was previously conducted by the armies themselves has been replaced with organised systems of embezzlement, tax fraud, extortion, the use of stock options as kickbacks and diversion of state funds conducted by groups that closely resemble criminal organizations.

The report cites 54 specific individuals and recommends a variety of actions be taken against them, such as freezing their assets and barring them for travel, if they do not cease such activities within a few months.

Of course the real problem is less that these individuals are willing to pay large bribes and use other means to gain access to the DR Congo’s wealth, but rather that the DR Congo government is so weak and corrupt that this appears to be the normal, accepted way of doing business in that country.

The reaction of the African nations was predictable — the report was all lies. After all, who ever heard of official corruption on the African continent?


Focus on UN Panel report on the plunder of the Congo. UN Integrated Regional Information Networks, October 21, 2002.

Africa fury at U.N. looting report. Reuters, October 22, 2002.

States set up cartels to plunder Congo UN. Jonathan Katzenellenbogen, Business Day (Johannesburg), October 22, 2002.

First Quantum denies U.N. accusations on Congo. Reuters, October 22, 2002.

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