Lessons in statecraft.

Author:Misser, Francois
Position:Joseph Kabila

It is undeniable that the young President, Joseph Kabila, has tried to be consistent with the promises made in his maiden speech of January 26 and during his early February tour of Western capitals (Paris, Washington, New York and Brussels). Principally, these commitments are to engage with the peace process and to undertake economic reforms.

At the last Lusaka summit, on February 15, Joseph Kabila agreed to the deployment of UN observers between the warring sides and announced his acceptance of the former President of Botswana, Ketumile Masire as facilitator of the inter-Congolese talks.

This dialogue was aimed at involving the government, the rebels, the non armed opposition and the civil society in order to set up a transition government and a new political order in the country. Both moves were considered as significant steps forward; one, because the son has accepted what the father had rejected and two, because according to the Lusaka Agreement, the inter-Congolese discussion had to take place before the 'orderly withdrawal of all foreign troops'

Reassuring noises

On the economic front, while addressing members of the Corporate Council on Africa in Washington, Kabila promised the CCA's chairman, the president of the diamond firm, Lazare Kaplan International, Maurice Tempelsman, that he would reverse the controversial monopoly on diamond marketing granted last July by his father to the Israeli firm, Idi-Congo.

Then, in meetings with the top guns of Chevron and other oil corporations, the young president gave assurances that his government would henceforth 'act in a business-like manner'.

Likewise, Tim Read, the president and CEO of American Mineral Fields which has stakes with AngloAmerican in the large Kolwezi cobalt and copper tailings project in Katanga, told his company's shareholders that: "We were encouraged by President Kabila's reassurances that measures will be put in place to make the DRC more attractive to foreign investment and reconstruct the national economy."

New mining code

Meanwhile, early in February, at a mining conference in Cape Town, the permanent secretary of the DRC's Ministry of Mines Andre Lwanyi announced that a draft version of the new mining and investment codes would be ready by April and that afterwards, mining houses would even be invited to provide an input in the forthcoming legislation. The new code will abandon the current adhoc case by case review, and standardise procedures for project approvals in...

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