Zaire: IRIN Briefing Part V: Shaba, 3/19/97

Zaire: IRIN Briefing Part V: Shaba, 3/19/97

U N I T E D N A T I O N S Department of Humanitarian Affairs Integrated Regional Information Network

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Zaire: IRIN Briefing Part V: Shaba 19 Mar 1997

A. History

Shaba, which covers some 500,000 square kilometres, is home to 10% (4,125,000) of Zaire's population, some 586,000 of whom live in its capital Lubumbashi (1). Isolated from Kinshasa by a distance of 1,500 km, the Shaba people have long harboured a resentment against the national government for what it sees as the continued exploitation of their lucrative mining receipts by Union Miniere de Haut Katanga (UMHK),later nationalized under the name Gecamines, by Kinshasa officals and foreign companies and governments. As a result, Shaba has had a strong independence movement and a history of revolt.

Shaba's first seccessionist movement occurred in 1960 with Moise Tshombe's Belguim-supported declaration of independance for the Shaba region, which was then known as Katanga. Tshombe, whom neighbouring Kasaians hold responsible for the 1961 death of Zaire's first prime minister, Kasaian Patrice Lumumba, was named by Mobutu as interim prime minister of the National Unity Government convened in 1961. Despite the inclusion of its leader into Kinshasa's political leadership, the Shaba rebellion was not quelled until 1963, and only then through the intervention of UN troops.

In 1977 and 1978, Katanga exiles, often referred to as the Gendarmes Katangaise, staged two invasions and several crossborder raids from their bases in Angola. The first invasion was supressed with the help of foreign troops (French, Belgium and Moroccan), some of whose countries had vested interests in Shaba mining operations. The second rebellion required the intervention of an inter-African peacekeeping force, which finally drove the exiles back into Angola. More limited, but unsuccessful, attacks were again launched in 1984 and 1985.

Since the 1960s, ethnic tension in the Shaba region has created instability and undermined political cohesiveness through the fomenting of dissension within its Kinshasa-based political parties such as the UFERI. In 1993, the regional governor, Antoine Gabriel Kyungu wa Kumwanza, with the backing of anti-Kasaian speeches made by his fellow UFERI member and pro-Mobutist Nguza Karl-I-Bond, proclaimed Shaba's autonomy, launching a wave of ethnic pogroms against the Kasai Luba (Baluba) people. This resulted in hundreds of deaths and thousands of expulsions. As a result, some 10,000 Kasai imigrants to Shaba, most of whom had been brought in to work the UMHK mines were forced back into the Kasai regions. UFERI members also made public speeches demanding that 70% of overall mining receipts remain in the Shaba region. Kyungu was eventually suspended as governor in 1995, following accusations that he was importing arms in a new bid for seccession.

More recently, fearing a Shaba rebellion in favour of Laurent Kabila, leader of the Allied Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Congo-Zaire (ADFL), local authorities have accused the regional leader of the UFERI, Lukonde Kyenge, of complicity with Kabila. Lukonde has denied these alligations emphasising that elections will provide Shaba with the federalism they want.

The fact that Kabila, has his origins in Shaba has raised fears both in Kinshasa and internationally that instability might once again spread to this region. Initial predictions foresaw Shaba residents rebelling in favour of the ADFL. However, this fear did not immediately materialize as many Shabans do not remember the 1961 to 1988 Kabila-led rebel movements favourably (2).They also hold Kabila responsible for the death of Tshombe's rival, Jason Sendwe, during the 1960 Mulelist rebellion (3). More recently, popular support has been growing for Kabila and the ADFL because of their successful advancement.

While Shaba has the strongest history of secessionist movements within Zaire, most residents appear to favour greater political and financial autonomy within a federated Zaire. Thus, they are more likely to maintain a neutral stance until Kabila is clearly winning. While this does not directly assist Kabila; tactically, it has meant that he has not had to devote many troops to holding his southern flank along the Shaba border.

At present, insecurity in Shaba is increasing as FAZ soldiers retreat from rebel-held areas. Growing insecurity, coupled with the delays in the move towards elections, could spark a revolt amongst local populations similar to that which has already occurred in Moba, Manono and Kabola.

B. Economic

Over time, Shaba has developed a substantial degree of autonomy as a result of the steady collapse of national infrastructure, following years of corruption and mismanagement. In trade terms it looks much more to Zambia and South Africa than it does to Kinshasa. Economically Shaba could survive as an independent state from Zaire; however, it would be a landlocked country, increasing its vulnerability and reliance on its foreign neighbours. Additiionally, it is currently dependent on power from the hydro-electric station in Bas Zaire to power its mining operations.

Shaba's history has been intrinsically tied to the exploitation of its large mineral deposits, notably copper and cobolt. Except for diamonds, most of Zaire's mineral wealth and productive mines are located in the Shaba region near the towns of Kolwezi and Likasi. Already suffering from the lack of international investment as well as outdated and obsolete equipment, Gecamines was further hit by the loss of a substantial portion of its miners in the ethnic violence that erupted in the Shaba region from 1992-4. As workers fled and copper and cobalt production slumped, falling by 90% from 440,600 tons in 1989 to 48,300 tons in 1993 (4).

Despite the fall in production, Gecamines remains the dominant operative in the mining sector; a sector which has always been the principle contributor to Zaire's GNP. The Belgium company Societe Generale Belgique (SGB) retains interests directly or indirectly through a network of associations and subsidiaries. Since 1988, France's Suez Group has also held a controlling interest in SGB (5).

Given assurances of protection for their investments coupled with favourable incentives, foreign mining companies have demonstrated that they would once again be interested in exploiting Shaba's vast mineral resources. In an effort to attract investors back into Zaire, the 1993 government embarked on a course to denationalize Gecamines and other state-owned industries. However, following scrutiny from the World Bank, privatization was shelved and emphasis was shifted towards the promotion of joint ventures with foreign investors and companies (6). The resulting revenue was expected to contribute significantly to Zaire's balance of payments, facilitating Zaire's debt servicing by the end of 1997 (7). As most of the investors have been lured to Zaire by lucrative incentives and concessions, there were concerns that the government was selling out Zaire's or, as some believe, Shaba's resources in order to compensate for a deficit in domestic savings. Prior to the ADFL offensive, Gecamines had entered into several joint ventures to exploit Shaba mining oportunities with investors from the USA, Canada, Belgium, China and South Africa. Former soldiers from South Africa were recruited to protect mines in Kolwezi and were reinforced by 1,000 soldiers from Mobutu's elite Division Speciale Presidentielle (DSP) troops in November 1996.

C. Shaba Who's Who

C.1 Antoine Gabriel Kyungu wa Kumwanza

Antoine Gabriel Kyungu wa Kumwanza co-founded the Shaba-based party Union of Federalists and Independent Republicans (UFERI) with Nguza Karl-I-Bond. Kyungu followed Karl-I-Bond's lead and joined Mobutu's Force Politique du Conclave (FPC) in 1991. Mobutu then named Karl-I-Bond as prime minister (8) and Kyungu, who is from the northern Luba-Katanga tribe, as governor of Shaba, breaking the precedent of not appointing governors who had tribal ties to the region. In addition to inciting the war of ethnic cleansing against Kasaian immigrants from 1992 to 1994, Kyungu was also reported to have favoured members of his tribe in the delegation of government posts. Although less visible since his 1995 suspension as governor, Kyungu still retains a significant following in Shaba. In September 1996, the UFERI membership split between the two leaders, Kyungu and Karl-I-Bond. The group led by the more popular and outspoken Kyungu is now known as the UFERI-Origenielle, whose stated goal is the immediate recognition of Shaba as a federated state. In February 1997, Kyungu defected from the FPC, severing his overt political ties with Mobutu. At present, rumours are circulating in Lubumbashi that Mobutu may have offered to re-instate Kyungu as governor of Shaba.

C.2 Nguza Karl-I-Bond

Karl-I-Bond is the leader of the Mobutist alliance FPC in the HCR-PT parliament. He has seen his popularity in Shaba wane following his 1994 heart attack and subsequent sabbatical from politics, during which time he turned over the administration of the UFERI to his wife, who is from Haut Zaire - a non-Kasaian. His health is reportedly still delicate. For a more detailed history refer to Zaire: IRIN Briefing Part III, 27 Feb 1997 97.02.27.

C.3 Union of Federalists and Independent Republicans (UFERI)

Main Shaba political party. For more detailed information refer to Zaire: IRIN Briefing Part III, 27 Feb 1997 97.02.27

C.4 Lukonde Kyenge

Kyenge is the regional leader of UFERI and, along with Kyungu, is said to enjoy a large degree of popular support in Shaba.

C.5 Frederic Kibassa Maliba

Kibassa is a co-founder of Tshisekedi's UDPS and its representative in Shaba. In 1991, the UDPS membership split between Tshisekedi and Kibassa, with most of the non-Kasain party members following Kabassa. For more detailed information refer to Zaire: IRIN Briefing Part II.

C.6 Atundu Liongo

Originally from Shaba, he has acted as Mobutu's security advisor for the interior. He was formerly head of the Zairean security agency, SNIP, ambassador to Rwanda and the director of Gecamines and is said to have shares in the influential Zairean airline, Shabair.

C.7 (Ex-) Gendarmes Katangaise (a.k.a Tigers of the Front Nationale du Congo)

The Gendarmes Katangaise is an anti-Mobutu rebel group, which has been based in Angola since the 1960s. The initial group was composed of gendarmes (police) from the Katanga (Shaba) region, who fought with Tshombe in the 1960 secessionist wars. Following their defeat they formed a mercenary group for hire , under the leadership of Maxist Nathanael Nbumba, Tshombe's cousin. Mobutu accused Angolan President Neto of financially and logistically supporting the rebels in their 1977 and 1978 invasions of Shaba. Angola, in counter-charges, has long claimed that Mobutu provided covert assistance to anti-government UNITA rebels in Angola.

Although the original members would now be in their 60s, the movement has continually attracted new recruits, including new exiles and the children of the original members. They also changed their name to the Tigers of the Front de Liberation Nationale du Congo (FLNC) and are said to number some 5,000 strong with a 1,800 operational force. In 1992, they claimed UFERI leader, Karl-I-Bond, who had made several public statements supporting them and their cause, as their political leader. Some of the aging veterans, who had retired in Shaba, were recently reported to have been recruited by General Mahele to fight along side the FAZ in the war against the ADFL rebels. However, because of their antipathy towards Mobutu and their previous support for the current Angolan government, their natural alliance would be with ADFL forces. In December 1996, members of Kabila's entourage claimed that the Tigers, who were said to be on standby near the Zairean towns of Diloto and Tshikapa, would invade Zaire when Kabila called on them (9). More recently, some of their members reportedly arrived in rebel-held Bukavu just prior to the fall of Kisangani. Their presence on the side of the ADFL raises the possibility that UNITA forces, who fought the Gendarmes in Angola and have long used the Shaba and Kasai regions as a safe haven, have also enter the conflict. ADFL alleges that some 2,000 UNITA troops arealready fighting with the FAZ.


Most of the above information was gathered from news and wire services, the journal 'Africa Confidential'and interviews with various local sources. Other sources include:

1. Institut National de la Statistique, Kinshasa Zaire -1995 figures 2. refer to Zaire: IRIN Briefing Part IV 3. Africa Confidental (AC), 29 Nov. 1996, Vol37, No.24 4. Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), Zaire, 1995-96, p.22 5. EIU, Zaire, 1995-96, p.12 6. EIU, 4th Quarter Report 1996, p.19 7. EIU, 4th Quarter Report 1996, p.24 8. refer to Zaire: IRIN Briefing Part I 9. AC, 13 Dec 1996, Vol 37, No25, p.5

This report is part of a series of briefs designed to assist the humanitarian community understand the complexity and history of the current situation in Zaire. Part I: List of Key Political Players, 24.02.97 Part II: Historical Overview of Zaire, 27.02.97 Part III: Zaire Who's Who, 27.02.97 Part IV: Eastern Zaire Who's Who, 28.02.97 Part V: Shaba, 19.03.97 Part VI: Kasai, 20.03.97 Part VII: Equateur, 21.03.97

The above has been compliled from varied sources and in no way reflects the views of the United Nations.

Nairobi, 19 March 1997

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Date: Wed, 19 Mar 1997 22:53:58 +0300 From: UN DHA IRIN - Great Lakes <> Subject: Zaire: IRIN Briefing Part V: Shaba 19 Mar 1997 97.03.19 Message-ID: <>

Editor: Ali Dinar,