Printer-friendly versionSend by emailPDF version

Patrick Bond wrote: "…using license to loot the Democratic Republic of the Congo during the late 1990s civil war…" (

Shocking to read this rubbish. Is it a civil war when foreign armed forces cross a border to attack another state or is it an invasion? Rwanda, Uganda and Burundi crossed the Congolese borders on August 2nd 1998 and occupied the Congolese cities of Goma, Bukavu and Uvira. The RCD was founded in Rwanda on August 10th 1998. Please take time to do some researche to find out the difference between a civil war and an invasion.

Troops from Zimbabwe, Angola and Namibia were in the DRC. If the ZDF, according to your way of writing, looted the DRC, what about the Rwandese and Ugandan armies?

No single Congolese woman was raped by any ZDF soldier. No single Congolese citizen was brutalized by any ZDF soldier. The Western media are the one reporting about the ZDF looting the DRC.

So, Mr. Patrick Bond you better take time to do some research before writing this kind of shit. If you don't like Mugabe, it is your problem. But let the ZDF out of your mind. Zimbabwe (Mugabe and the ZDF) didn't loot the DRC. King Leopold II (Belgium), Museveni (Uganda) and Kagame (Rwanda) are the ones who looted the DRC. The ZDF has left the DRC some years ago, but Rwanda and Uganda are still looting the DRC, raping the Congolese women and killing the Congolese citizens inside the DRC.

PATRICK BOND responds:

Of course the past and present regimes in Kigali, Kampala, Brussels, Paris and Washington also deserve blame for belligerence and armed aggression. But should we let the Zimbabwe Defense Force (ZDF) 'out of our mind'?

Right then, let's return to 2002, when the Table de Concertation sur les Droits Humains au Congo/Kinshasa noted that 'all the warring parties are gaining important advantages from the situation, political advantages, but above all economic advantages, thanks to the illegal looting of the Congo's natural resources'. Some of the ZDF's massive outlays - in the range of $150 million by August 2002 - were expected to be reimbursed by Kinshasa in the form of further 'economic advantages'.

The Zimbabwe Financial Gazette - informed by top government officials - noted that Harare had 'not benefited directly from the war in the DRC, save for individual ruling Zanu(PF) politicians.' By October 2002, these allegations were amplified by the United Nations Security Council, whose panel of experts judged that 'New trade and service agreements were signed between the DRC and Zimbabwe just prior to the announced withdrawal of ZDF troops from the diamond centre of Mbuji Mayi late in August 2002 ... [including] a private Zimbabwean military company to guard Zimbabwe's economic investments'. Instead of 'looting that was previously conducted by the armies themselves', new systems had emerged: 'embezzlement, tax fraud, extortion, the use of stock options as kickbacks, and diversion of state funds conducted by groups that closely resemble criminal organisations'.

Extraction of the Congo's riches - especially lumber and minerals - was meant, theoretically, to offset some of the Mugabe regime's costs of providing military support to Kabila during the 1998-2002 war. According to the UN, 'The elite network of Congolese and Zimbabwean political, military, and commercial interests seeks to maintain its grip on the main mineral resources - diamonds, cobalt, copper, germanium - of the government-controlled area. This network has transferred ownership of at least US$5 billion of assets from the state mining sector to private companies under its control in the past three years, with no compensation or benefit for the state treasury.' For example, pristine rain forests of teak and mahogany in Katanga were razed by what The Observer newspaper discovered was a web of Zimbabwe-related companies which sold the timber through African Hardwood Marketing in London.

Zimbabweans also exploited diamonds and mining concessions through a ZDF military company, Operation Sovereign Legitimacy (Osleg), which operated another shady outfit, Cosleg, as a joint venture with the DRC firm Comiex-Congo. Yet another example was a diamond mining scheme in Kalobo, associated with colonel Tshinga Dube of Zimbabwe Defence Industries and a notorious Ukrainian diamond and arms dealer, Leonid Minim. Many such joint ventures emerged, some initially established to raid DRC state assets by Mugabe's cronies Billy Rautenbach and John Bredenkamp (partly through the latter's company Tremalt and its subsidiary, the Kababankola Mining Company). Rautenbach was formerly the chief executive of the DRC state firm Gécamines, which the UN found was repeatedly raided by unethical managers. In conjunction with European arms manufacturers, Bredenkamp regularly violated military hardware sanctions against Zimbabwe. His monthly strategy meetings included attendance by ZDF commander Vitalis Zvinavashe, brigadier general Sibusiso Moyo, air commodore Mike Karakadzai, Kababankola's managing director, Colin Blythe-Wood, and another Kababankola director, Gary Webster.

In one of the most lucrative operations, 'conflict diamonds' from the Mbuji-Mayi mine in the DRC war zone were apparently smuggled to Johannesburg, cut and repackaged, and then smuggled back to Harare and onwards to Antwerp where they were sold as if they had come legally and certifiably from a (non-conflict) mine owned by Oryx Natural Resources. An Omani national, Thamer Said Ahmed Al Shanfari, controlled Oryx - 'a front for ZDF and its military company Osleg' - and became the Zimbabwean military's 'most important foreign business partner', in the words of a Pretoria intelligence report cited in Madrid's respected El Pais newspaper. Leading Zimbabwean politician Emmerson Mnangagwa was revealed to be 'the key strategist for the Zimbabwean branch of the elite network', according to the UN, providing political cover and assisting with distribution of the spoils to colleagues such as minister of defence Sidney Sekeramayi.

In the meantime, the war in the DRC was responsible for between two and three million deaths.