African Business: Shortly after your election you undertook a review of the salaries paid to mining employees. What made you take this decision?
Moise Katumbi Tchalue: If you visit the website of the London Metal Exchange, you will understand the reason. Copper, that stood at $4,000/t a short time ago, stands today at $8,000/t. Mine operators are doing well, their workers should benefit. That is why I have called on all mining companies to increase the pay of their employees. When you pay your employees well, their performance improves.
AB: Katanga is considered the richest province of the DRC. How can you contribute to the country's development while protecting Katanga's own interests?
MKT: There are no poor provinces in our country. You are aware that oil has been discovered in Kivu and Equateur provinces and should soon be exploited. But our country has suffering terribly from conflicts, that is why some provinces today are less wealthy than Katanga. Regarding the distribution of 40% of the DR Congo's revenues to the provinces, the governors and presidents of the local Assemblies found a compromise with the central government in Kinshasa. The Head of State told us that in 2008 all the provinces will receive their share of the national income.
AB: During your last visit to Likasi, a mining town, you demolished some factories belonging primarily to Asians. Do you not think that this will adversely affect the positive momentum of investments in the mining sector?
MKT: I have the greatest respect for the investors who come to our country but I cannot condone any investor who has no respect for our laws and regulations. If you were the governor, would you be happy if I came to build a house on your land without your consent? I doubt it ...
These operators, mostly Asians, have built on a site belonging to Gecamines without permission. They were warned. As the governor of Katanga province, I will not allow this kind of behaviour. We welcome investors, but we want them to be serious, respectful and law-abiding.
AB: You have also expelled some foreigners, including Asians. Are you not worried that this might be seen as a witch hunt?
MKT: No one in particular is targeted. I just want to ask you: do you know how many Africans are deported every day from Asia, Europe or the US? Do you know under what conditions they are placed in airplanes? They are tied to their seats like animals! This horrible policy is perceived as...