KPFA Evening News Anchor Anthony Fest:
For many months the most prominent news story about the Democratic Republic of the Congo has been the "UN Combat Intervention Brigade" going into the northeastern provinces - meaning primarily the Kivu Provinces occupied by Rwanda, although Rwanda continues to deny it's occupying those territories. At the end of last week, however, the business press reported
that UN Special Forces were on their way into the country’s most mineral rich province, Katanga. KPFA's Ann Garrison spoke to Kambale Musavuli, Mining Researcher for Friends of the Congo, who said the Special Forces are there to protect mines and the flow of strategic minerals required to maintain the U.S. capacity to manufacture for war.
KPFA/Ann Garrison: So, Kambale, we haven't heard much news about this UN Combat Intervention Brigade, but suddenly there's news that the UN is deploying Egyptian "Special Forces" going into Katanga Province, to go after a militia called Bakata Katanga. What's it about?
Kambale Musavuli: Oh, it's very clear. The reason why we have the UN Special Forces in Katanga is to protect mining interests.
KPFA: OK. It's the most mineral rich province in the D.R.C., and it's the province that Patrice Lumumba died attempting to defend against secession, shortly after independence. Then, again, there were these rebellions in the 1970s. Could you talk about that, and the Congressional response?
Yes, this is connected to what is happening now. In 1977 and '79, there were two rebellions that took place, which disrupted cobalt production. Let's remember Congo is the #1 producer of cobalt in the world. So, given Congo was the producer of cobalt that the U.S. used, Congress decided to do a study. They wanted to know 'what do we need to do if we don't have access to Congo's cobalt?' Back then it was called Zaire. So Congress contracted with the Congressional Budget Office to write a famous document called "Cobalt Policy
," which was published in 1982. And, in that document, the Congressional Budget Office told Congress that cobalt is an essential mineral to U.S. interests, being economic or military. But, Zaire and Zambia, Zaire being Congo, have most of the world's cobalt. Over 60% of the world's cobalt is found in that region, and the region appears to be unstable.
So, what does that cause? If that region is unstable, it would create two vulnerabilities to the United States. The first one is military. In a time of war, the U.S. would have a short supply of cobalt to make weapons to fight the war.
And the second is economic. The American people knew that when they couldn't even buy color TVs. There was a shortage of color TVs. So, the Congressional Budget Office told the American legislators that, 'you have no choice but to make sure that there is stability in Katanga.'
KPFA Evening News Anchor Anthony Fest: And that report from KPFA's Ann Garrison. She spoke to Friends of the Congo Mining Researcher Kambale Musavuli.