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Paradise Papers: watch exclusive interview with chairman of Glencore – world’s biggest mining company

The Cable grills Tony Hayward, former CEO of BP and current chairman of Glencore, which recently featured in the Paradise Papers.

Bristol and Beyond

The Cable grills Tony Hayward, former CEO of BP and current chairman of Glencore – the world’s largest mining company, which recently featured in the Paradise Papers.

The University of the West of England (UWE) invited Tony Hayward to give a ‘distinguished address’ on the transition from fossil fuels to renewable forms of energy in November.

The Cable managed to set up an interview with Mr Hayward. Several days before the arranged interview, one of the biggest data leaks, the Paradise Papers, revealed that Glencore had loaned a businessman previously accused of corruption $45m and asked him to negotiate mining rights in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

We took the opportunity to challenge Mr Hayward on his track record, ask about Glencore in the Paradise Papers, and try and find out what he has to offer on the future of energy to staff and students at UWE.

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    THANK YOU for such opportunity you used to interview Mr Tony Hayward, former CEO of BP and especially the current chairman of Glencore, as you mentioned, the world’s largest mining company, which recently featured in the Paradise Papers.

    Congolese people are still suffering since now almost twenty years facing a proxy war where the only winners are mining companies and their traders and their networks. What could we say and do that has not been said or done? We are so powerless and so voiceless that the suffering of our population become the only language that any of good conscientious, like yourself could support.

    HISTORY LESSONS. We could not give up. Let me just remind you a history most of you already probably know. It is about Mr Edmund Dene Morel who found the Congo Reform Association in Liverpool in 1903.

    FROM THE SLAVE TRADE TO THE RED RUBBER. In fact, Congo is always connected to the world industrial and technological revolution. Not only that the ashamed transatlantic Slave Trade was launched by Portuguese kidnapping Congolese from the former Kongo Kingdom and selling them to America at the beginning of the 16th Century, but when at the end of the 18th century the Scottish Dunlop invented, by chance, his pneumatic tyre at Belfast and revolutionised the tyres, bicycles and car industry, it was again Congo who became the world provider of the then rubber. In fact, the then Congo known as the Congo Free State was owned from the Berlin 1885 Scramble of Africa conference by the Belgium King Leopold II. He owned the land, he owned the people, he owned the natural resources and became one of the richest monarchs in the world, after investing in building Brussels and other important monuments. As he wanted to become richer, he forced the Congolese into one of the first bloodiest business in the human history: the red rubber. Congolese people had their hands cut and million died in exploiting Leopold II’s rubber. One of the then witnesses was Joseph Conrad with his “Hearth of Darkness” ended with the famous personage of Mr Kurtz, a famous collector of dead and assassinated Congolese people heads lined outside his compound. And, anyone who read this famous novel, could remember of Mr Kurtz last words before dying: “horror! horror! horror!”

    Congo is till now a country of horrors and atrocities and genocides.

    MOREL. But, the change for the Congo came from a back door. Mr Morel was a young British/French journalist living in the small village of Hawarden in North Wales. He was working for a Liverpool ships company, Elder Dempster, that had a contract with King Leopold II to exploit his than Congo. Travelling regularly from Liverpool to the Antwerpen in Belgium, Mr Morel seems to question himself about his job. In fact, he was surprised that the ships living Antwerpen for the Congo were full of guns, mercenaries and other tortures materials while those from Congo to Antwerpen were full of rubber and other natural resources. He then started collecting stories and interviewing especially some missionaries, most of them British, working in Congo and became aware that there were massive human rights atrocities committing in Congo by Leopold II agents. Knowing that the King and his bosses from Liverpool knew and were aware of them, not only that he left his job, but he also confronted his bosses and launched, with the support of the Irish Roger Casement, the Congo Reform Association to tell Congolese people suffering stories and to fight against Kind Leopold II’s Congolese atrocities. In fact, after Morel launched his newspaper, West African Mail, the British government decided to investigated about those allegations and appointed the first British consul in Congo, the Irish Roger Casement who travelled in Congo and came back with an incredible report and who supported Morel in creating, with the support of other sponsors, his Congo Reform Association, launched in Liverpool in 1903 and that won an important battle by organising the first pro-Congo rally at the Royal Albert Hall in London in 1904, supported and backed by famous persons such as bishops, writers, scientists and politicians. Those Morel’s denunciations, Congo Reform Association’s books, publications, contributions, conferences, pamphlets, etc. forced the King to stop exploiting Congo and to hand it to the Belgium for the Congo to become a Belgian colony in 1908…

    BELGIUM AND THE CONGO URANIUM. Before Congo independence in 1960 from Belgium, not only that Belgium earned from Congo minerals, but the Congo made also an important contribution during the two great wars by fighting side by side with the Allies against Germans, Congolese gold was used by British Churchill government to buy weapons from America for the D-Day and, most important, the Congolese Uranium contributed to the end of the Second War: the USA used 2/3 of the Congolese Uranium to make of the first atomic bomb dropped by the USA at the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945.

    FROM MOBUTU TO KABILAs: Mr KURTZ. The Congolese situation has not changed since> Not only that the USA CIA, the UK MI6 and the Belgian government supported and backed Mobutu’s coup to assassinate the Congolese Independence father Patrice Lumumba, but during his 32 years in power and during the two Kabilas, Congolese are still living under Mr Kurtz’s regime.

    GLENCORE. I must avoid using your time by sharing with you the information you know about GLENCORE and its involvement in looting Congolese millions of dollars with what could and must be described as very bad and anti-green mining deals.

    WHAT COULD WE DO?… The story of Mr Morel could inspire us. It is possible for a small newspaper and a short interview to make difference. It is possible for students such as the UWE to become changemakers for the reform of the Congo. It is not the matter to stop people making businesses or making money, as we all need businesses, but, the percentage of their interests compared to the suffering of the Congolese people seems much evil. And, our invited chairperson knows it.

    Norbert X,
    Freelance journalist, Bristol

    Butcher, Tim. 2007. Blood River: A Journey to Africa’s Broken Heart. London: Vintage.

    Hochschild, Adam. 1998. King Leopold’s Ghost: A Story of Greed, Terror and Heroism in Colonial Africa. Mariner Books.

    Van Reybrouck, David. 2014. Congo: The Epic History of a People. London: HarperCollins.

    Wiltz, Marc. 2015. Il pleut les mains sur le Congo. Magellan & Cie.


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