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Years after the formal end of two devastating wars, the Congo’s eastern Kivu provinces meander in a limbo of contested politics, deep-seated insecurity and armed mobilisation. Through the prism of the artisanal mining sector, which is currently undergoing significant regulatory transformation, this article studies the convoluted networks of political and economic order that underpin (in)security. Investigating the links between violence, reform and patronage, it asks how powerbrokers adapt to changing logics of conflict and resource extraction amid transnational reform that aims at ‘conflict-free’ mineral sourcing. Revisiting the notion of patronage, the article argues that political and economic order are socio-spatially entwined and demonstrates how a certain type of stakeholder–known collectively as incontournables–commands multiple loyalties across entangled networks of mineral exploitation and trade that extend far into the political, economic and military spheres of authority.
Vogel, C. (2021). The politics of incontournables: entrenching patronage networks in eastern Congo’s mineral markets. Review of African Political Economy. https://doi.org/10.1080/03056244.2021.1886070