Wednesday, November 19, 2008
clipped from: www.prospect-magazine.co.uk
And the current crisis needs to be understood, as it was in King Leopold's day, as a battle over Congo's rich natural resources.'
These resentments have been exacerbated by jealousies over vast contracts recently signed between China and the government of President Joseph Kabila. Anger has focused on the likelihood of Kabila and his inner circle, from his base in the southern province of Katanga, skimming off vast sums from these opaque deals.
Chinese businessmen willing to spend vast sums for scarce raw materials. Countries like Zambia or Sierra Leone, long used to relying on aid, have found themselves with unprecedented revenues.two years ago, China promised Congo $5bn in exchange for rights to much of its copper, cobalt, tin and other minerals.
It has also inspired the Tutsi-influenced rebels of the Kivus, led by General Laurent Nkunda, whose insurgency is designed to force Kabila to share the spoils.
The fact that Rwanda supplies weapons, ammunition, manpower and communications to Nkundu’s rebels is one of Africa’s worst kept secrets. The west turns a blind eye, seeing Rwanda through the frame of events in 1994, when 800,000 ethnic Tutsis and moderate Hutus were murdered by Hutu extremists. Against such a background, the now Tutsi-controlled government of Rwanda can do no wrong.
But Rwanda is the Israel of central Africa, a country forged through suffering, with a far superior military to its neighbours and influence across the Great Lakes region. Our outsiders’ sense of guilt for 1994 should not stop us from criticising it for fomenting the current violence. Nor should guilt about the results of our colonial scramble for Africa more than a century ago prevent us criticising the Chinese for provoking a new cycle of violence.