Kinshasa paralysed by general strike
By Norm Dixon, Green Left Weekly, April 1997
Millions heeded the call by the moderate opposition to turn the Zaire capital into a ville morte (dead city) on April 14 and 15. Workers, shopkeepers, market vendors, students and even the unemployed stayed indoors or out of sight in a general strike which paralysed Kinshasa. Kids played soccer in streets that are usually streaming with traffic.
The strike was called to protest against dictator Mobutu Sese Seko's sacking of Etienne Tshisekedi from the post of prime minister and to demand that Mobutu resign.
Most participants also saw it as a way to express support for the Alliance of Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Zaire-Congo, the rebel movement that has liberated half the country and has promised to take Kinshasa by the end of June. The ADFL reports that it is 240 kilometres from the capital at Bandundu.
With little fanfare the ADFL has liberated Kananga, capital of West Kasai province, 960 kilometres from Kinshasa, and Kolwezi, an industrial town in Shaba. Thousands greeted rebel leader Laurent Kabila in Lubumbashi on April 14, Zaire's second largest city and capital of the vital Shaba province. Rebels liberated the city on April 9.
The fact that Mobutu's rule has all but ended was illustrated by the decision by US-owned America Mineral Fields to sign a US$650 million deal with the rebel administration to operate a copper/cobalt reclamation project, rehabilitate a zinc mine and explore for other deposits.
South African-based De Beers and Anglo American, and several other foreign mining companies, are also involved in discussions with the new Zaire government-in-waiting over their existing operations or future projects.