A global anti-corruption organization sponsored by donor nations and major NGOs recently completed an analytic report that recommends Congo renegotiate the 2008 mineral deal it signed with China. The Congo-China deal is sometimes called the minerals-for-infrastructure agreement though what came to be known as “The China Deal”. It is nominally worth $6.5 billion. The deal was reached in 2007 and announced in February 2008. China agreed to finance the building of transportation infrastructure in Congo. China would also help construct an electrical grid and build electrical generating capacity. Improving water supplies is also part of the arrangement. The financing, however, is "resource-backed." The Congo's copper and cobalt reserves are the resources used as collateral backing the financing. That aspect of the deal was a major problem. Congolese critics pointed out that the deal was simply not fair to the Congo as it was economic imperialism. The revenue split between Congo and one of China's main mining concerns is 32 percent for the Congo, 68 percent for China.” Two Chinese state-owned-enterprises (SOEs) Sinohydro Corp (SINOH-UL) and China Railway Group Ltd would build roads and hospitals. Profits from Congo's Sicomines cobalt and copper joint venture with China would fund the infrastructure. By mid-2009 media sources estimated that the deal was worth nine to ten billion dollars in the long run, and China was coming out way ahead. Why did Congo make the deal and continue to keep it? Because former president (dictator) Joseph Kabila and his corrupt regime were in charge. In 2021 Congo’s president is Felix Tshisekedi. Now that his Sacred Union political coalition has removed Kabila supporters from key positions in government ministries the China Deal is open to thorough scrutiny and it looks like the critics who spoke up in 2008 were right. In 2017 the Kabila government agreed to a secret amendment to the China Deal that accelerated payments to Chinese mining financiers and slowed the pace of infrastructure investment. In other words, communist China got money before doing required construction. The recent report called the entire deal "unconscionable." The 2017 amendment certainly is. The new study alleges China has invested less than one billion dollars in infrastructure projects, which is about half of what should have been invested by 2021. Imperialism with Chinese characteristics? Yes. Congo Prime Minister Sama Lukonde Kyenge was quoted as saying the agreement must be “adjusted.” No kidding. (Austin Bay)
October 28, 2021: In eastern Congo (North Kivu province) soldiers clashed with some ADF (Allied Democratic Forces) Islamic terrorists and killed three of them. ISIL (Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant) later claimed responsibility because ADF pledged allegiance to ISIL in 2019 and later described itself as ISCAP (ISILs Central African Province The name changes nothing because ADF continues its terrorist operations, primarily in eastern Congo.
October 26, 2021: In eastern Congo (Ituri province) the army has undertaken a major operation to contain the growing violence from CODECO (Cooperative for the Development of Congo) rebels, who commit a substantial number of the attacks and atrocities in Ituri. Recently CODECO attacked twenty villages and the army was able to track the large group of CODECO men responsible. Today the army clashed with this group, which fled with soldiers in pursuit. The CODECO raiders were confronted again on the 28th and the two clashes left at least 27 men dead and an unknown number of dead not found or carried off by the fleeing CODECO gunmen. These two battles left four soldiers dead and many more wounded. CODECO is predominantly a Lendu tribal organization. It is sometimes described as a political-military sect because its leaders claim to have a religious mission. Like most violence in Congo, there is usually a tribal element because, for most Congolese, tribal leaders can do more for them than dictators or elected officials. This is true in many parts of the world where larger scale governments fail to match the services the ancient tribal organizations provide. Ituri has become a combat zone because of the lucrative gold mines that are seen as failing to provide any benefit to the locals.
October 24, 2021: In CAR (Central African Republic) recent media reports revealed that since the first week of August 2021 at least 11 Russian-hired military contractors have been killed in the CAR. On October 12 five foreign contractors (working for a Russian firm) died in a rebel ambush in the Bombo district (western CAR). At least three other contractors have died in ambushes near the CAR-Cameroon border. In June a UN report concluded that the Russian contractors were involved in active combat with rebel militias.
October 23, 2021: In eastern Congo (North Kivu province) some ADF Islamic terrorists carried out attacks this evening and again the following day, leaving eleven civilians dead during two attacks. Soldiers showed up to track the ADF raiders.
October 22, 2021: Zambia’s Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) announced the arrest of 14 current and former government officials for corruption. The arrested officials faced a range of graft charges. Three of the officials were arrested for failing to follow correct transfer of funds procedures on fund transfers they authorized. The other 11 were charged with fraudulent accounting practices. The arrests and charges reflect President Hakainde Hichilema’s commitment to combat corruption. In the August 2021 presidential election Hakainde promised to investigate and punish corrupt officials, past and current. He also promised greater government transparency. He won a landslide election, beating incumbent Edgar Lungu. Recently, Zambia published a complete list of its 44 international (foreign)l creditors. Zambia’s central government owes almost $17 billion including $520 million in overdue interest payments. Slightly more than a third of that total is owed to Chinese lenders. Zambia owes about $10 billion to local lenders. The debt total is about 115 to 120 percent of Zambia’s GDP.
In Congo several hundred employees of the state-owned ports company stormed its headquarters and clashed with police. The employees claim they are owed three years of unpaid wages. This sort of thing is a typical form of widespread corruption.
October 21, 2021: In eastern Congo (North Kivu province) 16 people were slain when ADF gunmen launched an attack on a farm community near the city of Beni. An unknown number of people were kidnapped.
Congolese officials reported that since the end of August 165 children (aged five and younger) have died of unknown disease. The outbreak began in Kwilu province (southwestern Congo). The children have malaria-like symptoms and suffer from severe anemia.
October 20, 2021: In Rwanda government prosecutors announced they will appeal the 25-year jail sentence given to Paul Rusesabagina. The prosecution sought a life sentence for backing an armed rebel group that launched attacks in Rwanda in 2018 and 2019. Rusesabagina is the hotel manager portrayed as a hero in the movie Hotel Rwanda, a film about the 1994 genocide. He is currently a Belgian citizen and holds an American green card. There was no evidence presented showing any Rusesabagina involvement with violent activities in Rwanda and many Rwandans and foreigners believe the Rwandan government wants to discredit Rusesabagina and discourage more such prominent local critics,
The Rwanda Space Agency is negotiating with the ITU (International Telecommunication Union) to acquire two satellite constellations The constellations are named Cinnamon-217 and Cinnamon-937.
October 19, 2021: In eastern Congo (North Kivu province) army commanders accused a Rwandan militia called Buhumba of invading Congo. So far the invaders have occupied and looted six villages.
In neighboring Uganda the army revealed a 4X4 armored infantry fighting vehicle produced in Uganda under a technology transfer agreement with the Paramount Group, a South African defense firm. The Ugandan vehicle is named the Chui. It is a mine-resistant, ambush protected vehicle (MRAP) type vehicle. The Ugandan Army says the vehicle was “designed and manufactured in Uganda.” That said, it is very similar to the Nyati MRAP produced in South Africa.
Burundi deported to Rwanda 11 anti-Rwandan government National Liberation Force (FLN) guerrillas. The men are Hutus. They are allegedly connected to Paul Rusesabagina.
October 18, 2021: In eastern Congo (North Kivu province) heath officials announced that five Ebola virus cases have been confirmed there. The first was reported October 9 in the city of Beni.
October 15, 2021: In CAR (Central African Republic) is trying to reach an agreement with the local government to change the rules on what UN peacekeepers can do in CAR. The UN has found that just playing defense has not worked and wants to use special offensive units to deal with the most dangerous rebels. A similar approach has worked in Congo.
October 14, 2021: In eastern Congo (North Kivu province) an Ebola virus vaccination program has been established in the city of Beni.
October 11, 2021: The UN believes an estimated 26.7 million Congolese are identified as being “food insecure.” That means they are not getting the minimum daily intake of food. This leads to physical weakness and disease. This condition is a major cause of the millions of non-combat deaths in Congo since the 1990s.
October 10, 2021: In eastern Congo (North Kivu province) ADF Islamist terrorists kidnapped several people outside the city of Beni.
October 9, 2021: Congo is investigating charges of corruption in Covid-19 response funding. An initial report estimated that only six million dollars of the $363 million the IMF gave Congo in 2020 to spend on Covid-related projects has been accounted for.
October 6, 2021: Rwanda has begun providing more information about its armed force deployed in Mozambique. The Rwandan Army contingent has slightly more than 1,000 soldiers. The contingent took part in the August 8 attack on the port city of Mocimboa da Praia. The attack drove militant Islamists from the city and into the bush. An estimated 100 militants were killed in the attack and seizure of the port. The Rwandan Army lost four soldiers. Since then, the Rwandan force has engaged the Islamists in several small unit actions in northern Mozambique.
October 5, 2021: Leaders of member states in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) confirmed they will SAFC military operation in northern Mozambique. In July SADC announced the mission would deploy for three months.
October 3, 2021: In Congo the 25th rotation of the Chinese peacekeeping engineering contingent has arrived. The unit operates as part of the UN peacekeeping force. The Chinese engineers handle engineering survey, road repair and road construction and unexploded ordnance disposal.
October 1, 2021: In Malawi soldiers are being used to distribute fuel from gas stations. A strike by tank truck drivers has led to fuel shortages. The drivers seek an increase in the minimum wage. Drivers reportedly make around $60 a month.
September 30, 2021: The UN reported that their peacekeepers in Congo reported that 739 cases of war crimes or atrocities occurred in August compared to 492 occurred in July. Congo currently hosts 535,253 refugees and asylum-seekers. from CAR, Rwanda, Burundi and South Sudan.