FACTORS FOR THE ATTEMPTED SECESSION OF KATANGA AFTER INDEPENDENCE

FACTORS FOR THE ATTEMPTED SECESSION OF KATANGA AFTER INDEPENDENCE
  • The nature of colonial administration characterized by divide and rule, the Belgians had designed Tshombe to promote their interests separately. Yet they had made most of the Congolese politically virgins. This secret support encouraged Moishe Tshombe to secede from mainland Congo.




  • The failure of the central government to increase the number of parliamentarians representing Katanga. Katanga had only four parliamentarians yet with about 2/3 of elites in Congo to avert this, secession became inevitable.
  • The economic giantness of Katanga in terms of goods, minerals and soils it had and it has minerals like Zinc, gold, copper, Uranium to mention but afew besides Katanga produced 60% of Congo’s GDP (Gross Domestic Product). Therefore this stimulated the economic nationalism of Tshombe who wanted all the resources to be used in the development of Katanga.
  • The rapid urbanization and industrialization in Katanga inspired continued immigration of people to Katanga to get employed. This however in turn increased the rate of unemployment and reduced the standards of living and the per capita income of the people in Katanga. In such a situation resentment was inevitable which was exploited in by Tshombe to secede.




  • The weakness of the central government of Congo, the president Kasavubu and Lumumba the Prime minister always had a conflict of decision which forced Kasavubu to axe him from his post, Lumumba also used the constitutional powers to remove Kasavubu from presidency. This confusion was exploited by Tshombe to declare an independent state of Katanga.
  • The personal ambitions of Tshombe to lead prompted secession. This begun in 1955 in the Brussels conference when he advocated for a federal government which could act as a stepping stone in achieving his objectives. He once stated that “Never will Congo rest unless I become a leader in Congo” This was a clear manifestation that he was determined to use any means to achieve his objectives hence the Katanga’s attempt to secede.
  • The weakness and the reluctance of the UNO which was invited on 12th July 1960 to check on the continued influx of Belgians in Congo under the guise of protecting their nationals in Congo, the UN responded by bringing out a charter that stated that “ None interference in the internal affairs of member states”. This gave a free hand for Tshombe to secede as he was assured of Belgian support; the UN also took little effort in trying to crash the Katanga secession.




  • The large concentration of white settlers in Katanga from Belgium. These provided incentives to farmers through the Katangese Union making Tshombe convinced that he had the potential of defeating mainland Congo. Thus this inspired him to break away.
  • The existence of Vast Belgium investments within Katanga, after independence they feared that with Lumumba’s communism their investments would be nationalized. They then gave massive support to Tshombe in a bid to create an independent Katanga. They established bases at Kamina and Kituna and the Belgian troops were placed in the corridors of Katanga acting as human shield. This gave impetus to Tshombe to secede.
  • The army grievances of the central government, the Congolese army resented to the oppression and exploitation and worse the inadequate salaries and wages due to Lumumba’s policy of Africanisation, they were also poorly fed. Therefore Congo lacked a loyal army which convinced Tshombe to declare secession.
  • The absence of the spirit of Pan Africanism, this was a colonial legacy where the Belgian colonial masters did not expose the Congolese to the Agenda of Pan Africanism but instead encouraged ethnic nationalism hence giving rise to micro- nationalists like Tshombe.




  • The rumor that Abako Bakongo had declared an independent state of the Bakongo within Zaire and also that the province of Kasai and Kivu had seceded. This convinced Tshombe that if Abako Bakongo had achieved self government then Katanga was not an exceptional. This was a Belgian rumor aimed at destabilizing Congo.
  • The size of Zaire/Democratic Republic of Congo, it is a very big country and Tshombe thought that Kasavubu and Lumumba would not be bothered by the secession, he also thought that by the time they would want to crash the Katangese secessionists it would already be too late. However by 1964 the secessionists had been crashed.
  • The influence of the independence of India which was twin independence with Pakistan in 1947, India managed to secede from the Moslem dominated Pakistan and this had a positive impact on some Africans such as Tshombe to declare secession.
  • The recruitment of foreign mercenaries from the republic of South Africa who trained Tshombes army secretly while getting two million pounds per day. This strengthened the military might of Tshombe to declare the independent state of Katanga.




  • The support from the masses such as peasants, the unemployed, and the industrialists who supported his move to secede and with the numerical strength attained Tshombe staged the war of secession.
  • The political indecision of African states towards the Katanga crisis for example Ghana and Egypt recognized Lumumba’s military government while Nigeria, Sudan and Tunisia supported Tshombe’s demand for federalism. This state of confusion convinced Tshombe that the government will not get enough external support hence giving him courage to secede.
  • Ideological differences among the Congolese leaders who could not compromise to national policies especially political and economic policies for example Patrice Lumumba was a socialist, Moishe Tshombe was purely capitalist yet Kasavubu was a liberal, this divergence in ideology prepared fertile grounds for the secession to crop up after independence.

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