The Sydney Morning Herald is reporting that the plane seized by Zimbabwe was headed for the Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo and that the passengers were to engage in mining operations there. They had stopped in Zimbabwe, according to Charles Burrow of Logo Logistics, who chartered the plane, to purchase mining equipment in Zimbabwe, where it was cheaper than in South Africa.
Reuters is reporting that the government of Equatorial Guinea has arrested fifteen “mercenaries” – white South Africans, black South Africans of Angolan descent, Armenians, a German and some Kazakhs – who it says were the “advance force” of the 64 “mercenaries” detained in Zimbabwe. Given the human rights record of Equatorial Guinea and the ongoing paranoia over a possible coup due to interfamilial tensions in President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo’s family, it’s a bit dangerous to take the government’s statement at face value.
In other words, the guys sneaking into DRC through Zimbabwe to engage in (probably illegal) diamond or coltan mining are probably unrelated to the folks who may or may not be trying to overthrow Equatorial Guinea’s despotic, oil-soaked government. And the US doesn’t seem to be trying to invade Zimbabwe using South African mercenaries armed with bolt cutters. In other words, Africa as usual…
In typically insightful fashion, Calixte’s African Oil Politics has an excellent background piece on the situation in Equatorial Guinea.