BBC Homepage World Service Education
BBC Homepagelow graphics version | feedback | help
BBC News Online
 You are in: World: Africa
Front Page 
World 
Africa 
Americas 
Asia-Pacific 
Europe 
Middle East 
South Asia 
-------------
From Our Own Correspondent 
-------------
Letter From America 
UK 
UK Politics 
Business 
Sci/Tech 
Health 
Education 
Entertainment 
Talking Point 
In Depth 
AudioVideo 

Wednesday, 17 January, 2001, 14:10 GMT
Zimbabwe: Soldiers stay in DR Congo
Presidents Kabila and Mugabe
Kabila and Mugabe were close allies
By Grant Ferrett in Harare

The authorities in Zimbabwe have said they are deeply saddened by the reported death of the President of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Laurent Kabila.

A spokesman for President Mugabe's ruling Zanu-PF party said Mr Kabila would be deeply mourned and hinted that Zimbabwe might step up its military presence in Congo.

Zimbabwe jet
A Zimbabwean Hawk fighter at Kinshasa airport
Zimbabwe has an estimated 11,000 troops in Congo and has been President Kabila's main backer at a significant cost to Zimbabwe's economy.

Although the government may be in mourning, many ordinary Zimbabweans are quietly satisfied at the apparent demise of the man they believe played a major role in the destruction of their economy.

Military commitment

The Zimbabwean Government now faces a serious dilemma, having become more involved than any other foreign country in the Congo conflict.

Should it maintain its forces in an increasingly unstable environment or pull out?

The Zanu-PF external affairs spokesman, Didymus Mutasa, said the latest developments provided all the more reason to stay.

He said President Mugabe was determined to promote peace and stability in Congo and suggested that that could now require even greater military commitment from Zimbabwe.

The opposition argues that Zimbabwean forces should never have been despatched to the Congolese capital, Kinshasa, in August 1998, when President Kabila's government looked to be within days of falling.

Thousands of troops

Mr Kabila expressed his gratitude by awarding what appeared to be lucrative business concessions to Zimbabwe, including diamonds and land.

But the deals have produced little or nothing in the way of benefits for the general population, while the Zimbabwean economy has borne the cost of maintaining thousands of troops.

Shortages of fuel and foreign currency have been exacerbated by the war.

Search BBC News Online

Advanced search options
Launch console
BBC RADIO NEWS
BBC ONE TV NEWS
WORLD NEWS SUMMARY
PROGRAMMES GUIDE
Links to more Africa stories are at the foot of the page.


E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Africa stories