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Armed groups, smugglers profit from Kabila’s minerals ban in Kivu

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By GLV correspondent.

Walikale– The recent announcement by Congolese President Joseph Kabila to immediately block all activities of exploiting minerals in North and South Kivu, and also Manyema, has increased smuggling and is making armed groups in Easter Congo richer, Great Lakes Voice reports.

Walikale zone, which is two times bigger than Rwanda, is controlled by armed groups, including MaiMai, CNDP, FDRL and another faction called RUDI which is active in mineral exploitation.

“The problem with this place, is that our government has no full control of this place – only Lebanese, Chinese, smuggling companies and armed groups are exploiting freely,” Jean Paul Mwanakavula, a resident of Djigala said.

Companies like SODEXMINE licensed to export, Metal Processing Company with certificates from DRC authorities to carry out research are involved in exploitation with the help of some armed groups and bribed officials of DRC government, he added.

Djigala is a center where mineral dealers meet with companies after the mining sites of Bisiye to negotiate the price and terms of transporting. At Djigala again, is where the tarmac road constructed by Chinese during Mobutu’s rule meets from Kilambo where cargo planes land to transport minerals to Goma, Kinshasa, and other places.

“This is a road and an airdrome at the same time, the men you see guarding the airplanes are not Congolese soldiers. Many times they force the residents here to load their airbases without any pay,” said Marie Rose Njema, who spoke to us through an interpreter.

According to Njema, teachers are always paid chickens, beans, and other food stuff to teach, since the residents are too poor to afford school fees and teachers are always away to direct and interpret for foreigners at the mining sites for $30.

As Goma residents who have been depending on mines are crying foul, armed groups have gained strength, since they get a lot from the companies that want to exploit and some times carry on the exploitation activities themselves.

As armed groups continue to equip and build their might with minerals, Walikali residents are worried for their safety in that region that is engulfed with conflict, poverty and armed groups clashes, and only seven schools.

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