Friday, February 22, 2019
Joseph Kabila

Joseph Kabila

President Democratic Republic of Congo

THE signs are that Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) president Joseph Kabila could seek “glissment”, a gradual prolonging of his time in power, even though the constitution says November elections should spell the end of his 10-year administration. The prospect of Kabila outstaying his welcome is a worrying development for the Congolese. Protests at the University of Kinshasa saw 40 people killed in 2015 – and may be the first of more civil disruptions this year. Already, the Roman Catholic Church has called for a protest march in February. This is far from the perfect political overlay in which AngloGold Ashanti, Randgold Resources and the host of other mining firms digging for gold, copper and cobalt within the central African country’s borders would want. Local and provincial elections did not take place as planned last year and the voters’ rolls have not been updated as promised. This has not stopped investment in the country: South Africa’s IDC has bought a tin mine while Robert Friedland’s Ivanhoe Mining has sold a 49.5% stake in the Kamoa copper project to Zijin Mining. The Chinese are also reviewing a $660m joint venture with the government to build a 240MW hydropower plant. Meanwhile the country’s minerals department has agreed to take a more benign view of a mining code re-write after threatening to raise the cost of business.


Joseph Kabila came to power 10 days after the assassination of his father, Laurent Kabila, who had toppled the Mobutu regime. He attended university in Tanzania. Before that he was a member of the infamous “Kadogos’ or child soldiers. He was formerly elected president in 2006 and again in 2011, controversially: the Carter Center said results from some 2,000 polling stations where Kabila rival, Etienne Tshisekedi did well, were mysteriously misplaced.