Emmerson Mnangagwa visits DRC: towards renewed support for Kabila?

This is the fourth visit of a head of state in the space of fifteen days in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

After Joao Lourenço (Angola), Denis Sassou Nguesso (Congo B.) and Ali Bongo (Gabon), the new Zimbabwean President, Emmerson Mnangagwa, has been in Kinshasa since February 27th.

Zimbabwe is a historical ally of the Kabila family.

While Botswana has called on the international community to put more pressure on the Congolese presidential majority to give up power and “pave the way for a new political regime,” is Zimbabwe going to remain a strong supporter of the Kabila regime in the Southern African Development Community (SADC)?

The privileged relations between Harare and Kinshasa go back to the time of Laurent-Désiré Kabila, in power between 1997 and 2001, father of the current president of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Joseph.

In 1998, while Laurent-Desire Kabila was threatened by a rebellion in the east of the country in the pay of Rwanda and Uganda, Zimbabwe, along with Namibia and Angola, offered decisive military support to Desired Kabila to avoid a putsch.

A few years later, UN expert gave reports on Emmerson Munangagwa’s involvement in Congo’s mines. An elevator return for services rendered? “The Crocodile”, as it is nicknamed, was in any case pinned by the United Nations in the illegal exploitation of the resources, at the time of the Second Congo war (1998-2003).

Wiring cables released by Wikileaks also reveal that Emmerson Munangagwa was special advisor to former Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe for the DRC in the early 2000s.

Joseph Kabila and the new president of Zimbabwe know each other very well. What diplomatic choice will Emmerson Munangagwa make now?

Will he stand in steadfast support for the Kabila regime? Or align with the positioning of Western states that call Joseph Kabila to organize the elections as soon as possible?

It also depends on South Africa’s positioning, says Great Lakes Region expert Stephanie Wolters. Because Zimbabwe needs the support of this heavyweight in the Southern African Development Community (SADC).

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