Global Policy Forum

Defence Defends Congo Kinshasa Mine

February 28, 2001

The assassinated president of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Laurent Kabila, gave a diamond mine to Namibia as a reward for military support, The Namibian has confirmed. The apparent gift - in return for propping up Kabila - was made in order to offset the escalating costs of the allied forces, who prevented the DRC dictator from being toppled by his erstwhile friends from Rwanda and Uganda.

The Ministry of Defence said yesterday that Namibia received the mine after a parastatal under its supervision "applied for mineral rights" as part of a co- operation agreement signed in 1997. Explaining the acquisition, Defence Minister Erkki Nghimtina said in an interview yesterday that Government turned down the offer in its initial form and decided instead to bid for the exploration of mineral rights. "Kabila wanted to give something to the allied forces but we said as a Government we cannot do [accept] that directly," said Nghimtina, adding that was why August 26 Holding was asked to handle the mining rights.

In order to handle the diamond mine at Tshikapa in the south of the DRC - along the border with Angola - August 26 Holding Namibia set up a front company called August 26 Holding Congo with two Namibian directors. Nghimtina said the rights were granted for five years as from 1999 following the signing of a ceasefire.

The Ministry of Defence said no mining has taken place at Muji-Munene near Tshikapa. The Defence Ministry also stated that an American company was not involved, contrary to what Mines and Energy Minister Jesaya Nyamu told Die Republikein 2000. Nyamu was also quoted as saying the mining has been going on for sometime.

The Defence statement said: "The company is at the exploration stage of the mining activity." Nghimtina said yesterday he could not say how much money had already been invested and how much it would cost to reach full production as he had not read the report about the exploration activities. Some Government leaders have said Namibia did not want to pump a lot of money into the diamond mine because Kabila had "changed his mind all the time" and "we could end up losing on our investment".

The Ministry of Defence went to great lengths to deny in the press statement, that Namibia had entered the DRC for the country's mineral riches." "Insecurity and destabilisation in that country affects Namibia as [a] sister country through the multiplier effect of Unita banditry attacks. Thus our involvement must be seen in that perspective," the press statement said.

Nghimtina strongly denied reports that link Namibia's diamond interests in Congo to a man accused of having helped procure weapons for Ian Smith in Rhodesia while the colony was under an economic embargo. The alleged arms dealer, John Bredenkamp, is now one of Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe's main business allies.

Two Namibian newspapers have linked Bredenkamp to one of the directors of a subsidiary of August 26 Holding, Windhoeker Maschinen Fabrik. But Walter Hailwax, who is also the honorary Belgian consul, this week declined to comment on the reports. He merely asked whether the reporter believed everything written in newspapers. The reports say Hailwax is on the board of directors of Bredenkamp's company ACS Worldwide.

Government has been roundly condemned for denying over the past two years that Kabila gave the authorities a mine in exchange for propping up his government. Other reports said the mine was given to President Sam Nujoma. This too has been denied.

More Information on the DRC
More Information on Diamonds in Conflict


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