Violence in Congo
What are the main contributors to the violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo?
The Democratic Republic of Congo is a country located in the central part of Africa. DRC was colonized by Belgium between 1885 and 1960. The vast mineral resources were a main attraction for Belgium. The DRC has had a turbulent political past since its independence, which is one of the reasons for long-standing violence in the country. The country’s first President, Mobutu Sese Seko, ruled between 1965 and 1997 under a dictatorial form of government. Mobutu’s rule came to an end with a rebellion led by Laurent Kabila in 1997. Several other east African countries including Rwanda and Uganda supported the rebellion that saw Kabila installed as president in May 1997. President Kabila made efforts to strengthen institutions such as the judiciary in the country. His son, Joseph Kabila, took over as Resident upon the elder Kabila’s assassination in January 2001. Joseph Kabila set up transitional government with autonomy for the three branches of government. The DRC held its first democratic elections in late 2018 with opposition leader Félix Tshisekedi sworn in as president in January 2019. The DRC continues to have weak government systems even with democratic elections held for the first time,
The DRC has immense economic resources mainly from its mineral deposits as well as rubber found in the country. The country has approximately $24 trillion worth of mineral deposits within its borders. Although these resources should be a source of wealth and prosperity to the country, Congo has suffered many problems. Congo supplies gold, cobalt, tin, diamond, lithium, tantalum and other precious minerals to the world. The DRC’s mild climate is also conducive for the production of rubber. During the various civil unrests in the country such as the Second Congo War between 1998 and 2003, the country faced massive looting of its minerals by civilians, foreigners and armed forces.
The main causes of violence in the DRC are weak government systems, massive corruption, fights over mineral deposits, and the refugee crisis from the Rwanda genocide. The 1994 Rwanda genocide led to a mass exodus of civilians from Rwanda seeking asylum in neighboring countries, one of these being the DRC. Most of these refugees were Hutu. Congolese rebels attacked the Hutu community supported by Tutsis in power in Rwanda (Mathys 465). These armed groups claimed that they wanted to track down those who participated in the genocide. The Congolese government could not control the armed groups in the eastern part of the country, leading to rampant violence. These Rwandan groups eventually supported the ousting of Laurent Kabila as president.
The DRC has weak government systems that contribute to the violence in the country. The government shows little commitment to strengthening institutions under the constitution. The president controls all arms of government, meaning there is no justice or accountability for those supporting and funding violence across the country. Massive corruption has also crippled the DRC and led to violence (Vadheim 13). Government officials own many mines across the country and channel resources to their own pockets rather than the development of the country. A perfect example of this is President Joseph Kabila who has amassed over $ 2 billion during his thirteen years in power, a mind-boggling sum in the impoverished nation. The government and other foreign bodies keep funding the various armed forces in the country to keep the war going (Vlassenroot & Verweijen 103). When the country is unstable, these powers have ample opportunities to loot the country while its citizens are too busy trying to survive. The DRC has more than 4 million internally displaced persons from the civil unrest, which also left more than six million dead. The violence in the DRC is a dire problem that needs urgent international attention.
Mathys, Gillian. “Bringing history back in: past, present, and conflict in Rwanda and the Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.” Journal of African History 58.3 (2017): 465.
The Rwandan genocide is one of the main contributors of violence in Eastern DRC. The authors of this article explore the domino effect of the Rwandan genocide on neighboring countries. The article also highlights how the genocide shaped DRC politics. The article is reliable as it is current and peer-reviewed.
Parker, Dominic P., and Bryan Vadheim. “Resource cursed or policy cursed? US regulation of conflict minerals and violence in the Congo.” Journal of the Association of Environmental and Resource Economists 4.1 (2017): 1-49.
This peer reviewed article published in 2017 analyzes the causes of violence in the DRC. The weak government policies have been blamed for violence. The authors also explore whether the relationship between weak government policies and misuse of resources in the country. Should the resources be blamed, or policies regarding these resources? The article helps readers understand the effect of policy on the DRC violence.
Rustad, Siri Aas, Gudrun Østby, and Ragnhild Nordås. “Artisanal mining, conflict, and sexual violence in Eastern DRC.” The Extractive Industries and Society 3.2 (2016): 475-484.
Women are one of the groups most affected by the violence in the DRC. This source is useful as it details the relationship between mining and sexual violence against women. The article also explores the idea of conflict minerals, supporting the argument that minerals are the primary cause of violence in the DRC. This source is relevant because it is peer-reviewed and current.
Vlassenroot, Koen, and Judith Verweijen. “Democratic Republic of Congo: The democratization of militarized politics.” Africa’s Insurgents. Navigating an Evolving Landscape (2017): 99-118.
This article sheds light on the various armed rebel groups that continue to fuel violence in the country. The nature and constitution of these groups vary. The main reason why these groups continue to thrive is that some political leaders use them to fuel conflict to their benefit and hide their corrupt activities. Understanding how these groups operate will be useful in understanding why there are so many militant groups and why the government cannot or does control them.
Zeuner, Brett. “An obsolescing bargain in a rentier state: Multinationals, artisanal miners, and cobalt in the Democratic Republic of Congo.” Frontiers in Energy Research 6 (2018): 123.
The Mining industry in the DRC has many players, from small artisans, industries to multinational groups. The politics in the country have a significant influence on how these groups operate within the industry. This article will help readers understand how the political leaders of the country regulate the participation of these bodies, and how it affects political stability and resource dependency in the country.