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DRC: Albert Yuma removed as president of Gécamines

By Anna Sylvestre-Treiner, Stanis Bujakera Tshiamala
Posted on Monday, 6 December 2021 13:55, updated on Monday, 20 December 2021 18:04

Albert Yuma Mulimbi was removed as chairman of the Gécamines board of directors on 3 December 2021. © Vincent Fournier/JA

Albert Yuma, who is a key figure in Congolese economic and political life, has been removed from the chairmanship of the Gécamines board of directors. President Tshisekedi announced that he will be replaced by Alphonse Kaputo Kalubi.

This surprise announcement was made on national television on the evening of 3 December. According to a presidential order read by Kasongo Mwema, President Félix Tshisekedi’s spokesman, Albert Yuma Mulimbi was removed from the head of Gécamines. The declaration has shaken-up DRC’s political and economic environment, given that Gécamines has become synonymous with power and Yuma is not a man easily overlooked.

Known to be close to Joseph Kabila, under whose mandate he became head of the board of directors of the country’s state-owned mining company in 2010, this Katangan has officially maintained good relations with Tshisekedi ever since he became president in 2019. The short-lived FCC and Cash coalition had even offered him the position of prime minister, but the president had opposed it.

Warning

Although Yuma and the current head of state’s relationship was – according to several testimonies – “perfect”, the former nevertheless had much more tumultuous relations with some of Tshisekedi’s advisers. In December 2020, Yuma had already received a “warning” by the time he was stripped of his position as head of the Fédération des Entreprises du Congo (FEC) for a few weeks.

This self-confessed sinophile annoyed certain actors. Even though he had studied in Belgium, he was quick to publicly criticise Western predation on Congolese mineral wealth and preferred to work with the Chinese.

J. Peter Pham, a former US special envoy who rarely holds back in his comments, immediately welcomed Yuma’s departure, hailing it as a “break” with the Kabila era.

Translation: 🍾🥂🍾 Here’s to the health, good governance and success of H.E. President Félix Tshisekedi Tshilombo and the people of the #DRC🇨🇩! This could be more than just a #NarrativeChange; it could be the beginning of a new break with the system of the past. @Presidency_RDC

Mismanagement

Yuma was also accused of mismanaging the mining company. a

At the beginning of September, the noose seemed to be tightening as the Inspection Générale des Finances (IGF) had launched an audit to assess the conditions of sale and transfer of Gécamines’ mining assets since 2010. His name was also mentioned in “Congo Hold-up”, a vast investigation carried out by a consortium of 19 media outlets and NGOs into alleged embezzlement committed by Kabila and his family.

Yuma has since been replaced by Alphonse Kaputo Kalubi, a little-known man from Gécamines. The company’s management has also changed, as Thambwe Ngoy has taken over as director-general and Léon Mwine Kabiena is the company’s new deputy director-general.

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