FACTORS FOR THE FAILURE OF KATANGA TO SECEDE FROM CONGO

FACTORS FOR THE FAILURE OF KATANGA TO SECEDE FROM CONGO

  • The unpopularity of Tshombe, Katanga was mainly Eurocentric with the white settlers benefiting at the expense of the indigenous blacks, when Tshombe failed to address this and continued to show interest and alliance with the whites caused discontent and the Katangese pulled out their support making the secession fail.




  • The intervention of the UN after it abandoned its charter that stated that “Non interference in the internal affairs of the member states”, the UN sent troops, put up trade sanctions and placed an arms embargo on Katanga. This greatly affected the Katangese and by 14th January 1963, the secessionists’ rebels had surrendered.
  • The charismatic and genius nature of the UN secretary General Dr. Dag Hammersk Jold who condemned Tshombe and convinced him to water down his demands of secession, Tshombe was convinced and had to say “If the UNO does not recognize me its pointless to carry on with the struggle”. Thus by 1963 it was clear that the secession was not to materialise.
  • The military might of the Congolese army in conjunction with the UN troops curbed the secessionist tendencies of Katanga. Tshombe’s army could not match this combination and therefore by 1963 had to give in and surrender.




  • The interception of fourteen planes from Belgium and France to Katanga was a blow to Tshombe’s dreams of reigning as a leader of independent Katanga. Therefore without such external support the secession had to fail.
  • The external support to the Congolese government from USSR in form of moral, financial and military assistance, twelve planes had been given to the government troop’s enabling them to prolong the war against Katanga. This eased the work of the Congolese Army and government in dismantling the secessionists.
  • Withdraw of Belgium troops from Katanga following the UN intervention greatly weakened the Katangese secessionists for they now lacked the human shield of the Belgians.
  • The 1963 Afro – Asian conference convened to solve the Katanga crisis was another blow to the attempted secession, after the conference resolutions were put up and African forces from Ghana, Tunisia were sent to crash the secessionists. To make matters worse the conference did not recognize Katanga as a sovereign state. This definitely acted to stop any further aggression from Katanga.




  • The emergence of OAU in 1963 with its charter that rotated around African unity, heads of state in Addis Ababa were greatly opposed to Micro nationalism of Tshombe as regards the secession. They swore never to allow seeing Zaire torn apart. This dug a political grave to the independence of Katanga.
  • The response of the Catholic priests and Bishops in the Vatican, they expressed sympathy to the people of Congo as it was turning into a Butcher Yard, the church condemned the act of Tshombe promising him hell fire if he did not stop. This reduced the popularity of Tshombe and definitely secession had to end.
  • The escape of Tshombe to USA was a last blow to the secessionist tendency; this demoralized the soldiers and only surrendered to the UN troops. This was a very clear act that the secession had ended.
  • The assassination of Lumumba together with some other three ministers in 1961 by Tshombe. This lost him popularity internationally and internally. Tshombe received international condemnation and lacked both internal and external support. Therefore with this, the secessionist tendencies had to fail.




  • The 1965 coup that led to the rise of Mobutu Sseseko, on coming to power and in a bid to restore law and order in Congo he changed the name Katanga to Shaba Province which was sub divided into eight other provinces. This reduced nationalism in Katanga and therefore reducing any chances of Katanga to secede. Since then Katangese sub nationalism has been in the limbo.
  • The role of the Non alignment movement can not be under estimated; it condemned ideological wars in the third world. In effect the West and East were attacked in Katanga thus weakening Tshombes secessionist tendecies in Zaire.

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