DRC: A discreet palace war is taking place within Tshisekedi’s inner circle

By Jeune Afrique
Posted on Thursday, 2 December 2021 17:38

François Beya, Fortunat Biselele and Corneille Nangaa. © Photomontage / Photos: DR; DR; Gwenn Dubourthoumieu for JA

Several people close to the DRC’s President Felix Tshisekedi, including advisors, ministers and even securocrats, have been trying to unpick a mining dispute for several weeks now.

Tshisekedi has entrusted unravelling the mystery to his trusted security adviser to François Beya: when Emirati investor showed up to invest in a mining project, it was found to be not for sale.

The affair starts with Corneille Nangaa, the former president of the Commission Electorale Nationale Indépendante (Ceni).

At the end of his term, Nangaa declared his assets to the Constitutional Court. In a letter dated 26 November that we were able to access, the Ceni’s honorary president listed – among the assets in his possession – seven vehicles, including three that belong to his wife, Yvette Lubala Nazinda.

Nangaa also stated that he has five bank accounts and owns 11 plots of land, which are located between Kinshasa and the province of Haut-Uélé, where he is originally from and which his brother, Christophe Baseane Nangaa, has governed since 2019.

The Ceni’s former president does business in this same province, which is located in the northeastern part of the country. He owns a cocoa plantation and a palm grove, as well as a plot of land in Kolwezi, which is situated in the mining province of Lualaba. The timing of this declaration of assets is extremely noteworthy.

Scandal

For several weeks, Nangaa – as well as a handful of President Felix Tshisekedi’s advisers and ministers – have been embroiled in a scandal concerning a mining project that he invested in through an intermediary.

The case in question concerns the Zani Kodo mining site in Ituri province, which is owned by the Kilo-Moto mining company (Sokimo). The Congolese state owns 30% of this company, while private shareholders hold the remaining 70%.

In 2017, Kodo Resources held the Zani Kodo mining permit. This was a private company in which Sokimo was a minority shareholder and the majority of shares were held by private individuals. Among them was Pianeta Mining, whose deputy general manager, Dede Muna, represents Nangaa and José Mpanda, the current minister of mining research.

Mining permit gone

According to our information, Pianeta has tried to sell its shares. The company Amarik positioned itself and then approached the Kabwa firm, which was headed by Tete Kabwa Kabwe, who was one of Tshisekedi’s advisors until he died in June.

Through Kabwa, other figures were later involved in this transaction, including Guy Loando, the current minister of territorial development, and Fortunat Biselele, Tshisekedi’s private adviser. The aim was to facilitate the withdrawal of Pianeta’s shareholders and thus the provision of the operating licence.

However, when an Emirati group wanted to invest in the DRC, the famous permit proved unavailable, even though Tshisekedi had been informed that shareholders had in fact withdrawn.

Series of hearings

As a result, the Congolese president asked that some light be shed on this matter and has entrusted this dossier to François Beya, his special security adviser. This pillar of the president has been mandated to conduct hearings at the Conseil National de Sécurité (CNS) to try to understand why the Pianeta shareholders did not withdraw as planned.

Interrogations began on 12 November. Ministers José Mpanda (scientific research) and Guy Loando (territorial development) as well as Nangaa have already been questioned.

Nangaa and Biselele had scheduled a meeting for 17 November, but the latter did not show up. The privy councillor – who Tshisekedi had sent on an official mission to Kigali – finally returned to Kinshasa on the morning of 19 November.

According to our information, he has still not appeared before the CNS. The affair is causing a stir within the head of state’s entourage. Some advisers, such as Beya and Biselele, have complicated relations.

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