In a development that has fueled allegations of state-sanctioned misappropriation of the Democratic Republic of Congo’s mineral revenue, estimated to be worth billions of US dollars per annum, non-government organisation, Global Witness has made shocking allegations about Kabila’s indirect involvement.
In a statement released on the 15th of November (yesterday), Global Witness, which fights corruption and environmental rights abuse, said Gecamines, the state-owned mining company, signed away the royalties from the countries most lucrative project to a company owned by a close friend of President Joseph Kabila.
Global Witness alleges Gecamines signed away royalties from Swiss mining giant, Glencore, for a copper project in the country’s southeast to an anonymous Cayman Islands company called Africa Horizons Investment Limited.
Observed Global Witness: “The January 2015 contract “does not explain what, if anything, Congo’s state mining company received in compensation for handing over these rights” from the Kamoto mines.”
“The royalties could generate as much as $880-million (R12.4-billion), more than Congo’s annual health spending,” Global Witness said.
Africa Horizons is owned by Israeli billionaire Dan Gertler, who Global Witness said was involved in murky mining deals in DR Congo and was Kabila’s close friend.
Illustrating the potential cost of the deal to the tax payer, the NGO said the royalties could generate as much as $880-million, which is more than DRC spent annually on public health.
Global Witness campaigner, Pete Jones, lamented: “It’s troubling that the state miner, Gecamines, has signed away rights to potentially huge flows of cash that should go towards building Congo’s future.”
“It’s even worse that it has handed them to this unknown, anonymous company belonging to an individual with a track record of suspicious deals,” he added.
Jones said the contract “provides no reason for Gecamines giving away these royalties”.
“It is imperative that Gecamines and Gertler explain what is behind this agreement. If they can’t show that this is a good deal for Congo, there should be an investigation into what’s really behind the agreement,” he said.
Gertler’s Fleurette group has denied the accusations and Gecamines director-general, Deogratias, Ngele Masudi, said that the firm “does not comment on statements by NGOs even if they are international ones”.
Glencore, in an e-mail to AFP, simply said it was “not involved in the negotiations between Gecamines and Africa Horizons”.
DRC has one of Africa’s richest mineral reserves.