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Saturday, 24 February, 2001, 11:02 GMT
Namibia reveals Congo diamond role
Namibian soldiers
The Namibian army supports Congo's Government
Namibia has admitted to having diamond interests in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where Namibian troops have been helping the government in its war against rebels.

Correspondents say the revelation provides a clue to the reasons for Namibia's involvement in DR Congo - a country where Windhoek has no clear strategic interest.

The Office of the Prime Minister has all along never denied that the government has a diamond mine

Prime Ministerial aide Sacky Shanghala

The Namibian army chief and high-ranking officials in the Defence and Trade and Industry are reportedly among the directors of the Namibian company which owns a mine in the south of DR Congo.

The prime minister's office said on Friday that the government had never denied its involvement in mining in DR Congo. Officials denied rumours that President Sam Nujoma was personally involved in the venture.

Zimbabwe's Government - which has provided the majority of the foreign military support enjoyed by Kinshasa - also has diamond interests in DR Congo.

Parastatal company

Sacky Shanghala, the special assistant to Prime Minister Hage Geingob, confirmed Nambia's involvement following earlier statements by Mines and Energy Minister Jesaya Nyamu, published in the Republikein newspaper.

Prime Minister Hage Geingob
Prime Minister Geingob: Office confirmed reports of government's diamond interests
"The Office of the Prime Minister has all along never denied that the government has a diamond mine," Mr Shanghala said.

"But we have denied, categorically, and I will repeat that denial, that the President owns a diamond mine in the DRC."

Mr Shanghala said the mine had been put in the hands of a state-owned company known as the August 26 Company, under the auspices of the Ministry of Defence.

The independent newspaper The Namibian named the directors as:

  • the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Defence, Erastus Negonga (chairman)
  • T Lamek
  • David Shimwino
  • Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Trade and Industry Andrew Ndishishi
  • army chief Major General Martin Shalli
  • Deputy Police Inspector General Fritz Nghiishililwa
  • retired Police Inspector General Raonga Andima.

David Shimwino was one of three Namibians detained by Russian gem traders in DR Congo in 1999 following a disagreement over a diamond deal.

President Nujoma intervened to help secure the release of the three - an act which prompted speculation that he might have a personal interest in the diamond trade.

The Namibian-owned operation reportedly comprises a 25sq km mining concession some 45km south of Tshikapa, near the Angolan border in in DR Congo's Western Kasai province.

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See also:

23 Feb 01 | Africa
Congo pull-back plan welcomed
25 Jul 00 | Africa
Mugabe's costly Congo venture
26 May 00 | Business
African diamond group to float
08 Jan 01 | Country profiles
Country profile: Namibia
19 Jul 00 | Europe
Traders ban conflict diamonds
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