Pretoria's thwarted plans for the DRC
After the SADC summit, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa remains wary of his Congolese counterpart Félix Tshisekedi, who has distanced himself from Pretoria in favour of new countries like Kenya.
The Congolese authorities signed a second, more restricted and secretive agreement with Dan Gertler last month, in addition to the major settlement negotiated in February. Africa Intelligence is able to detail the contents of this new deal, which concerns the oil assets previously run by the businessman.
The Israeli tycoon has been forced to accept arbitration at the International Chamber of Commerce in Paris, the outcome of which could cost him several hundred million dollars. The name of the tribunal's president has not yet been disclosed, but the arbitrators appointed by each party are now known.
The Congolese Ministry of Defence budget is expected to increase by 22% next year. However, it may not be enough to finance the military operations in the two eastern provinces of North Kivu and Ituri, where a state of siege was declared last May.
The Israeli businessman is now entirely surrounded after losing all support in the US, Israel and Kinshasa. The Congolese president is preparing to strike a blow by enquiring about lawyers to take legal action against Gertler's companies operating in the DRC.
Dig Oil has asked a US court for a ruling in default to confirm the International Chamber of Commerce's (ICC) 2018 order for the DR Congo to pay the firm more than $600m for withdrawing an oil block from it and delaying production contracts on others.
Though some of the Congolese president's advisors are still pushing to counter the South African firm's arbitration award with another lawsuit, others would prefer Tshisekedi to accept a secret deal that comes with financial compensation.
The arbitration ruling won by Dig Oil against the DRC has put the head of state's advisers at loggerheads. Felix Tshisekedi's inner circle are pressing him to seek a settlement with the South African oil company, while one of the country's legal advisers is pleading for an energetic legal counter-attack.
Threatened with a fine equal to 10% of the national budget, the Congolese president has little choice but to negotiate with Dig Oil even as Kinshasa looks for a last ditch attempt to annul the arbitral ruling in favour of the South African oil junior.