DRC: In dispute with Tshisekedi, Katumbi accuses ANR of slapping him with flying ban

By Jeune Afrique
Posted on Monday, 19 December 2022 16:49

Moïse Katumbi in Paris, July 2016. © Vincent Fournier/JA

Already-cold relations between Katanga’s former governor and the DRC government have continued to deteriorate, with reports of Moïse Katumbi’s private jet not receiving authorisation to fly over DRC en route to Qatar.

As a member of the Confederation of African Football (CAF) and FIFA, Moïse Katumbi planned to be in Qatar.

In Doha, he was scheduled to take part in meetings with world football officials and attend, among other events, the World Cup Final.

But not everything went according to plan for the Mazembe boss, who was unable to fly his private jet, parked outside the country, to Lubumbashi.

Road trip

“I asked for flyover permission about a week ago, and the head of the intelligence service denied me,” Katumbi said.

He continued: “I did not know that the Congo belonged to just a few individuals.”

The former governor of Katanga specified that upon requesting the same from neighbouring Zambia, he received authorisation within “a few hours”, granting him passage to Qatar via South Africa.

In order to fly over Congolese airspace using a private jet, prior authorisation is required from Jean-Hervé Mbelu Biosha, the head of the National Intelligence Agency (ANR).

“There are people in DRC who take ownership of the country and believe that anything goes. Enough is enough; there is a time for everything,” said Katumbi.

An anonymous source at the ANR said “his file is being processed.”

On the other hand, the General Directorate of Migration (DGM), upon request, refused to comment on the matter.

Dawn of conflict

As with most circumstances, there is a certain context to note.

On 12 December, Laurent Batubenga Ilunga, president of Lubumbashi’s commercial court, announced his resignation from his post after 26 years of service.

The move raised accusations against the influential Peter Kazadi, a Félix Tshisekedi ally and senior leader of the UDPS, for having forced him to “validate seizures absent enforceable title by companies Octavia Limited and NB Mining Africa SA, belonging to [Corsican businessman] Pascal Beveraggi.”

Katumbi and Beveraggi have since been engaged in a prolonged court battle for several years.

In a letter that we managed to obtain, the former judge said: “[Félix Tshisekedi ally and senior leader of the UDPS] Peter Kazadi, claiming not to act on his own behalf but in the interest of power, wished for me to utilise my role as a jurisdictional head in order to help deprive, in accordance with his terms, the financial resources of a political adversary [Moïse Katumbi] in his struggle against the regime during the next election cycle.”

Upon request for comment, Kazadi refuted these allegations, accusing the former governor of playing the role of victim.

When asked for comment, an anonymous Tshisekedi advisor responded: “Moïse Katumbi is an insincere, dishonest man, seeking to quarrel with the very President of the Republic that he would like to replace.

“We will treat him as a political adversary.”

While the Commission Nationale Electorale Indépendante (Ceni) has set the next general election for 20 December 2023, Katumbi has called his political movement, Ensemble pour la République, to meet before Christmas, in order to “establish a better preparation plan for what is to come”.

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