Resources curse in the DRC


A YEAR before the infamous Berlin Conference of 1884, King Leopold II of Belgium pencilled a letter to clearly explain to missionaries going to Africa, their real mission and purpose.
They were not on an evangelisation mission.
Part of the letter which King Leopold II wrote in 1883 reads:
“Reverends, Fathers and Dear Compatriots: The task that is given to fulfil is very delicate and requires much tact. You will go certainly to evangelize, but your evangelization must inspire above all Belgium interests. Your principal objective in our mission in the Congo is never to teach the niggers to know God, this they know already…. Your essential role is to facilitate the task of administrators and industrials, which means you will go to interpret the gospel in the way it will be the best to protect your interests in that part of the world. For these things, you have to keep watch on disinteresting our savages from the richness that is plenty (in their underground. To avoid that, they get interested in it, and make you murderous) competition and dream one day to overthrow you.”
In the letter, King Leopold II did not mince his words.
The sole purpose of the whitemen’s foray into Africa was to loot her vast mineral resources.
And years after the writing of the letter, missions are still coming to Africa with the sole intention of facilitating the exploitation of the continent by the West.
Since then, Africa continues to fight what has come to be termed the ‘resource curse’ conflict.
And in the country where the missionaries were financed by King Leopold II, Democratic Republic the Congo (DRC), peace has been elusive since.
With more minerals in its soils than most countries in the world, the DRC is regarded as one of the poorest nations of the world while its rich resources have enriched,and continue to enrich, Western nations.
Precious minerals in the DRC include copper, cobalt, tin, gold, diamond, lithium and tantalum, among others.
The DRC also possesses plenty of fresh water and fertile land.
Instability in the DRC has led to many civilian deaths and forced migration of the people.
In a report compiled by United Nations (UN) in 2016, it was estimated there are about 2,7 million internally displaced people in the DRC and approximately 450 000 DRC refugees in other countries.
The BBC also reported that the conflict in the DRC has forced 1,7million people to flee their homes in 2017.
And the United Nations is yet to make a major resolution that can lead to a permanent solution to the instability.
The DRC is treated as if it is of no global strategic significance compared to countries such as Syria.
But the ‘looking the other side’ is deliberate and meant to easily facilitate the illegal looting of the country’s resources.
It is no different from how Zimbabwe was not an issue to the West when the white minority occupied the country’s prime land which, after the historic Land Reform and Resettlement Programme, was discovered to possess all sorts of precious minerals from gold to diamonds.
Reports suggest that the DRC boasts US$24 trillion worth of untapped deposits of minerals and has the world’s largest reserves of cobalt, enormous quantities of diamonds, gold and copper, among other minerals.
The country has had a long history of exploitation right from the colonial days when its rubber, timber and other natural resources fed European industries.
To access the country’s resources, civil war has been precipitated and promoted by the West.
DRC minerals are presently propelling technological developments in Western nations.
Large quantities of columbite-tantalum (coltan) are located in the eastern DRC.
Coltan is a valuable metal used in the manufacture of important apparatus such as medical devices, mobile phones and computers.
It is in high demand in countries such as the US whose Department of Defence considers coltan a strategic mineral.
The country’s vast diamond resources have led to the West promoting and financing rebels who have caused havoc so that there is no monitoring of the people exploiting the commodity.
The availability of alluvial diamonds in the country which do not require much equipment to exploit have become a curse for citizens of the country.
Villagers in areas with these minerals have found themselves abandoning their homes as sponsored rebels drive them out to make room for the looters.
Multi-national companies that include the De Beers Consolidated Mines Ltd, Anglo-American Corporations, Sominki, Tenke Mining Corporation (a subsidiary of European Consolidated Ventures), Bethel, American Mineral Fields and Anvil Mining have been cited as being the engine of the conflict in the DRC.
Countries like Zimbabwe have been fortunate in that the intrusion of the Western hand has been foiled by the vigilant revolutionary ZANU PF party .
Having fought an armed struggle to dislodge colonial rule, the party has not allowed itself to be lulled into false comforts that have ended in the destabilisation of many African countries.
However, De Beers, a South African diamond mining giant, robbed Zimbabwe of billions of dollars after illegally taking away an estimated 100 000 tonnes of alluvial diamond ore from Chiadzwa over a period of 15 years.
According to a previous article in The Patriot, De Beers used tactful ways to extract and exploit diamonds from Marange:
“The companies installed heavy machinery and used dangerous chemicals to extract and clean the diamonds, in the process causing great damage to the environment and exposing locals to a potential health disaster.
“In some cases, De Beers discreetly established camps, disguised as tourist cites while looting Zimbabwe’s diamonds. One of the sites was a camp they set up in 2004 at Bazeley Bridge in Marange, where geologists assisted in the looting of the precious gems.”
Founded by Cecil Rhodes, De Beers is a corporation that has over the years perpetuated the exploitation of Africa’s resources.
For decades, De Beers enjoyed the monopoly of controlling the diamond industry through dictating prices and influencing global supply
However, new economic giants such as Russia, Brazil and China are rewriting the global socio-economic and political space.
With power shifting from former Western ‘super’ powers to other blocs of the world, countries like the DRC and other nations like Zimbabwe, harassed for their resources, have an opportunity to turn a new leaf.


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