Journal Article

Ambitions, Profits and Loss: Zimbabwean Economic Involvement in the Democratic Republic of the Congo

Michael Nest

in African Affairs

Published on behalf of Royal African Society

Volume 100, issue 400, pages 469-490
Published in print July 2001 | ISSN: 0001-9909
Published online July 2001 | e-ISSN: 1468-2621 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/afraf/100.400.469
Ambitions, Profits and Loss: Zimbabwean Economic Involvement in the Democratic Republic of the Congo

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Accounts of recent Zimbabwean economic involvement in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) focus on commercial activities by military officials and political elites, and suggest that these groups' business interests precipitated Zimbabwe's involvement in the conflict. Such accounts obscure the real scope and extent of interest by the Zimbabwean business community in the DRC and ignore the historical context in which economic involvement has occurred, as well as the difficulties. Based on interviews with Zimbabwean entrepreneurs and government officials, this article analyses the circumstances under which entrepreneurs sought opportunities in a nation virtually unknown to Zimbabweans prior to 1997. It explores the effect of poor domestic economic conditions and previous Zimbabwean military involvement (but subsequent lack of business penetration) in Mozambique, on government and business resolve to exploit opportunities in the DRC. Further, it argues that military involvement was not initially motivated by profit. Rather, entrepreneurs followed military actors once military networks were in place, as entrepreneurs (and military personnel themselves) realized the commercial value of these networks.

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Subjects: African Studies ; International Relations ; African History ; Regional Political Studies

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