One of the quirks of the tracker software that lets me sticky beak about where you chaps come from, is that there is consistent traffic from people interested in one Billy Rautenbach. I mentioned him, ages ago, in conjunction with Phil Edmonds, the former Middlesex and England slow left arm bowler who has become deeply involved in a variety of African mineral projects in such tourist destinations as the Democratic Republic of Congo and Southern Sudan.
As this article
makes clear, Edmonds' companies, Camec in Congo and White Nile in Sudan, have both run into problems. Rautenbach has been deported from the Congo accused of fraud, theft, corruption and violating commercial law
, which you would have thought merely make him qualified to run a business in Central Africa, but apparently make you Entrée nonauthorisée
in the one of the most corrupt state in the world.
Shed no tears for Mr Rautenbach, as nasty a piece of work as ever donated money to Robert Mugabe, but his rapid fall from grace may have an interesting impact on the boss of Camac, Phil Edmonds. Rautenbach is the acknowledged kingpin in the Southern African mining world - a lifetime's experience of double dealing and two-timing having stood him in great stead. His ejection from Camac is a blow, and if, as it might, it presages a more aggressive Governmental attitude towards Camac it may herald serious problems.
Sudan looks even less promising. After a wonderfully Buchanesque moment, when Edmonds managed to persuade the Government of Southern Sudan to grant White Nile with the extraction rights, things have rather gone to pot. First Total, the French oil company/slush fund for African dictators claimed that the Khartoum Government had granted it exclusive rights over the area. Now, even more worryingly, the Southern Government has asked White Nile to leave the area - the peace treaty between Khartoum and the Southern rebels expressly allows that existing oil contracts retain their validity. Ex Africa Semper Aliquid Novi rings as true today as it did for Virgil: there may be very stormy times indeed ahead.