Rebels, DR Congo Soldiers Accused Of Illegal Mining Operations In Fizi Territory

Residents claim that the rebels, usually of the Mai-Mai group, operate in the mining sites to the knowledge of DR Congo soldiers in the area.

Some soldiers of the DR Congo national army, FARDC, have been accused of collaborating with armed groups to plunder the country’s mineral resources.

According to civil society activists in the eastern part of the country, soldiers and some elements of the Mai-Mai rebel group are involved in mining operations in Fizi territory. 

Civil society organisations in the country have raised the alarm on the activities of the Mai-Mai rebel group at the gold and other mining sites in the Ngandja sector where they have instituted taxes on miners since the beginning of this year.

“Local miners are being taxed to pay 2 US dollars per month. Not only the Mai-Mai have been collecting these taxes but rogue officers of the FARDC have also been collecting their part of the illicit taxes,” said Dunia Floribert, coordinator of the new civil society in Ngandja sector.

“The two parties have formed a sort of parallel administration and have been robbing the local miners blind.”

“Since the beginning of 2022, we have been witnessing an administrative parallelism between the FARDC and the Mai-Mai who dictate the law in the Misisi mines. They impose taxes on miners and one can no longer distinguish who are the FARDC and who are the Mai-Mai who tax and arrest defaulters.”

“The most surprising thing here is that all the ministries are also represented within the Mai-Mai. Each government service that we meet here in Misisi is also present in the mining sites.”

HumAngle learnt that members of militia groups as well as the FARDC soldiers also put in hours at the gold mines while some of them have become full time artisanal diggers.

“The ordeal is not limited to the mining sites. Several blocks have been erected on roads through which farm products are transported and they generate income for both the militia and rogue FARDC officers and men of the rank and file. Farmers have to pay at least 1,000 FCFA (about $2) to cross each barrier,” Floribert added. 

The army through the spokesperson of Operation South Sokola 2 in South Kivu, Lt. Elongo Kyondwa has promised to investigate the allegations before making a statement.

The rebels of the Mai-Mai Yakutumba are very active in the mining localities of Misisi, Lubichako, Tulonge, Ngalula and Nyange which are under the control of the FARDC.

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Chief Bisong Etahoben

Chief Bisong Etahoben is a Cameroonian investigative journalist and traditional ruler. He writes for international media and has participated in several transnational investigations. Etahoben won the first-ever Cameroon Investigative Journalist Award in 1992. He serves as a member of a number of international investigative journalism professional bodies including the Forum for African Investigative Reporters (FAIR). He is HumAngle's Francophone and Central Africa editor.

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