by Ann Garrison
KPFA Weekend News broadcast Nov. 22, 2015
As if the Black Friday consumer brawls weren’t grim enough, the ENOUGH Project stepped up to ask consumer electronics shoppers to make it “conflict-free Black Friday.”
KPFA Weekend News Anchor Loula Acanmu: Earlier this week, the ENOUGH Project to, quote, “end genocide and crimes against humanity,” posted an appeal to consumers titled, “What if Black Friday were conflict-free?” ENOUGH is an NGO operating under the umbrella of the Center for American Progress, a neoliberal Washington D.C.-based Democratic Party think tank.
ENOUGH’s appeal read, “As you embark on Black Friday and holiday shopping, the Enough Project hopes that you consider companies’ sourcing practices when you make purchasing decisions on electronics and other items, and continue to tell companies that you want to be able to buy conflict-free products made with minerals from the Democratic Republic of Congo.” They did not include an appeal to the nation’s weapons manufacturers who require minerals on the U.S. Strategic Minerals list. KPFA’s Ann Garrison has the story.
KPFA/Ann Garrison: The ENOUGH Project, with help from actor Ben Affleck and Secretary of State John Kerry, has been the principal advocate for the conflict minerals legislation included in the 2010 Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act.
Washington D.C.-based Friends of the Congo has been its leading critic. Kambale Musavuli, student coordinator for Friends of the Congo, says that conflict minerals legislation is no solution to the resource war in the Democratic Republic of the Congo because, for one, it does not criticize the Western mining corporations operating in the Congo:
Kambale Musavuli: The conflict minerals approach is dead silent on U.S. corporate interests and U.S. corporations inside the Congo, plundering the resources. The list can be found at congoweek.org, conflictminerals.org and as well at friendsofthecongo.org. The companies looting the Congo are very well known.
KPFA: Musavuli also says that the conflict minerals legislation says nothing about resource sovereignty, the core challenge facing the Congolese people.
KM: The conflict minerals approach does not speak about resource sovereignty. Why is that so important? This has been the core challenge of the Congolese for 125 years. It’s always been, “Who’s going to control Congo’s resources, for whose benefit?”
Now in 1960 our first elected prime minister, Patrice Lumumba, said, “I want the resources of the Congo to benefit the Congolese people.” Within weeks, he was deposed. Within months he was assassinated by Western powers, particularly the United States and Belgium.
The conflict minerals approach does not speak about resource sovereignty.
After that, to the chagrin of all the Congolese, the United States backed a dictator in a second coup in 1965. They backed him for three decades, decades when he looted the resources of the Congo and helped the U.S. during the Cold War.
Now, when the U.S. got tired of Mobutu, they supported an invasion of the Congo in 1996 and ‘98.
The conflict minerals approach is dead silent on U.S. corporate interests and U.S. corporations inside the Congo, plundering the resources.
So you see the core challenge of the Congolese is resource sovereignty, and the conflict minerals approach does not speak about that.
KPFA: Musavuli also criticized soft power organizations like the ENOUGH Project.
Kambale: This is a crucial moment for the people of the Congo and Africa. The central question is: Will we sit idly by and allow the U.S. and the West to maintain hegemony on the Congolese people, on us, over our lives and our resources? Especially through these soft powers of so-called humanitarian institutions and think tanks out of Washington, D.C., who continue to advocate for policies that maintain U.S. corporate dominance over our lives.
Oakland writer Ann Garrison writes for the San Francisco Bay View, Black Agenda Report, Black Star News, Counterpunch and her own website, Ann Garrison, and produces for AfrobeatRadio on WBAI-NYC, KPFA Evening News, KPFA Flashpoints and for her own YouTube Channel, AnnieGetYourGang. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. In March 2014 she was awarded the Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza Democracy and Peace Prize for promoting peace in the Great Lakes Region of Africa through her reporting.