Mobutu Sese Seko
Learn more about Mobutu Sese Seko
|Mobutu Sese Seko|
| Image:Colonel Mobutu.jpg|
| In office|
November 25, 1965 – May 16, 1997
|Preceded by||Joseph Kasa-Vubu|
|Succeeded by||Laurent-Désiré Kabila|
|Born|| October 14, 1930|
Lisala, Democratic Republic of the Congo
(then known as Belgian Congo)
|Died|| September 7, 1997|
|Spouse|| Marie-Antoinette Mobutu deceased)|
Mobutu Sese Seko Kuku Ngbendu wa za Banga (October 14, 1930 – September 7, 1997), known commonly as Mobutu, or Joseph Mobutu-Sese Seko, born Joseph-Désiré Mobutu, was the President of Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of the Congo) for 32 years (1965–1997). He rose to power after a coup d'état.
 Early years
Mobutu was born in Lisala, Belgian Congo, a member of the Ngbandi ethnic group. His father, who was a cook, died when he was young, and he was raised by his mother, who was a hotel maid. His earliest studies were in Léopoldville, and later his mother sent him to the Christian Brothers School in Coquilhatville, a Catholic mission boarding school, for further education. In 1949 he joined the Force Publique (FP), the Belgian Congolese army, rising to rank of sergeant. He left the army in 1956 and became a professional journalist for the Léopoldville daily L'Avenir. Through his journalistic activities, he came to know Patrice Lumumba and soon joined Lumumba's Mouvement National Congolais (MNC).
Following the granting of independence on June 30, 1960, a coalition government was formed, led by Prime Minister Lumumba and President Joseph Kasavubu. Lumumba appointed Mobutu as chief of staff of the army. Lumumba and Kasavubu soon started to struggle for overall power - both attempting to dismiss the other from government with Kasavubu ultimately proving successful. On September 14, 1960, a coup d'état overthrew Lumumba in support of the President. Colonel Mobutu was a key figure in the coup and was significantly rewarded for this work. The CIA and the Belgians were actively working in the country to support Mobutu and get rid of Lumumba (whom they regarded as pro-Soviet) because they felt Mobutu would be a better ally in the Cold War.
 Military coup and consolidation of power
In November 1965, now Lieutenant-General Mobutu seized power from President Kasavubu in a bloodless coup, following another power struggle between Kasavubu and his prime minister Moise Tshombe. According to Mobutu, it had taken "the politicians" five years to "ruin" the country; therefore, said Mobutu, "For five years, there will be no more political party activity in the country." Under the auspice of a regime d'exception (the equivalent of a state of emergency), Mobutu assumed wide-ranging powers. Parliament was reduced to a rubber-stamp before its abolition. The number of provinces was sharply reduced, and their autonomy was curtailed, as nearly all power was concentrated in the central government, creating a strong unitary state.
Initially, Mobutu's government was decidedly apolitical, even anti-political. The word "politician" carried negative connotations, and became almost synonymous with someone who was wicked or corrupt. Even so, 1966 saw the debut of the Corps of Volunteers of the Republic, a vanguard movement designed to mobilize popular support behind Mobutu, who was proclaimed the nation's "Second National Hero" (after Lumumba). Ironic given the role he played in Lumumba's ouster, Mobutu strove to present himself as a successor to Lumumba's legacy, and one of the key tenets early in his rule was "authentic Congolese nationalism." In other words, Mobutu was simply following in Lumumba's footsteps, and assuming the mantle of the martyred prime minister's leadership.
1967 marked the debut of the Popular Movement of the Revolution, or MPR, which until 1990 was the nation's only legal political party. Membership became obligatory for all civilians. Among the themes advanced by the MPR in its doctrine, the Manifesto of N'Sele, were nationalism, revolution, and authenticity (see below). Revolution was described as a "truly national revolution, essentially pragmatic," which called for "the repudiation of both capitalism and communism." One of the MPR's trademarks was "Neither left nor right," to which would be added "nor even center" in later years.
That same year, all trade unions were consolidated into a single union, the National Union of Zairian Workers, and brought under government control. In the words of the government, the union would serve as an instrument of support for government policy, rather than as a force for confrontation. Independent trade unions would not be legalized until 1991.
Mobutu faced many challenges early in his rule, but most opposition he was able to coopt into submission through patronage; those he could not, he dealt with forcefully. In 1966, four cabinet members were arrested on charges of complicity in an attempted coup, hastily tried by a military tribunal, and publicly executed in an open-air spectacle witnessed by over 50,000 in attendance. Uprisings by former Katangan gendarmeries were crushed, as was an abortive revolt led by white mercenaries in 1967. By 1970, nearly all potential threats to his authority had been smashed, and for the most part, law and order was brought to nearly all parts of the country. That year marked the pinnacle of Mobutu's legitimacy and power. The Belgian monarch, King Baudouin I, made a highly successful state visit to Kinshasa; that same year, legislative and presidential elections were held, and Mobutu handily won 99% of the popular vote in an election where voting was compulsory and he was the sole candidate.
Please see the main article for additional information.
Embarking on a campaign of pro-Africa cultural awareness, Mobutu renamed the country the Republic of Zaire in October 1971. Africans were ordered to drop their Christian names for African ones, and priests were warned that they would face 5 years' imprisonment if they were caught baptizing a Zairean child with a Christian name. Western attire and ties were banned, and men were forced to wear a Mao-style tunic known as an abacost.In 1972, Mobutu renamed himself Mobutu Sese Seko Kuku Ngbendu Wa Za Banga ("The all-powerful warrior who, because of his endurance and inflexible will to win, will go from conquest to conquest, leaving fire in his wake"), Mobutu Sese Seko for short (pronounced /məˈbuːtu ˈseze ˈsekoʊ/). The latter portion of this name has been transliterated in a wide variety of ways.
 One man rule
Early in his rule, Mobutu consolidated power by publicly executing political rivals, secessionists, coup plotters, and other threats to his rule. To set an example, many were hanged before large audiences, including Prime Minister-designate Evariste Kimba, who, with three cabinet members - Jérôme Anany (Defense Minister), Emmanuel Bamba (Finance Minister), and Alexandre Mahamba (Minister of Mines and Energy) - was tried on May 30, 1966, and executed three days later, before an audience of 50,000 spectators. They were executed for being in contact with Colonel Alphonse Bangala and Major Pierre Efomi, for the purpose of planning a coup. Mobutu explained the executions as follows: "One had to strike through a spectacular example, and create the conditions of regime discipline. When a chief takes a decision, he decides - period."
In 1968, Pierre Mulele, who was formerly Minister of Education under Lumumba and later a rebel leader during the 1964 Simba rebellion, was lured out of exile (he had been living in Brazzaville) on the assumption that he would be amnestied, but was tortured and killed by Mobutu's forces. While Mulele was still alive, his eyes were gouged out, his genitals were ripped off, and his limbs were amputated one by one. Mobutu later moved away from murder, and switched to a new tactic, that of buying off political rivals rather than killing them. He used his slogan "Keep your friends close, but your enemies closer still," to describe his tactic of neutralizing opponents through bribery. This was done to cow enemies into submission, as well as to lure home opponents from abroad, and thus limit their ability to expose the repression and corruption of the Mobutu government to the world.
Initially he nationalized foreign-owned firms and forced European investors out of the country. In many cases he handed the management of these firms to relatives and close associates who stole the companies' assets. This precipitated such an economic slump that Mobutu was forced by 1977 to try to woo foreign investors back. Also in 1977 he needed foreign aid to help repulse an attack on Katanga by Katangan rebels based in Angola. France airlifted into the country 1,500 elite Moroccan paratroopers, who defeated the rebels. However, a year later, the rebels attacked again, in greater numbers. As Mobutu's army stood on the brink of defeat, Belgium and France deployed troops (provided logistical support by the United States), and again the rebels were defeated. Also rallying to Mobutu's aid were the Chinese, determined above all to thwart Soviet advances on the African continent.
Despite this, he was re-elected in 1977, and again in 1984, but no other candidates stood for election. He worked hard on little but to increase his personal fortune, which in 1984 was estimated to amount to nearly US$5 billion, most of it in Swiss banks; however, many now suspect he was never a billionaire at all . This was almost equivalent to the country's foreign debt at the time, and, by 1989, the government was forced to default on international loans from Belgium. He owned a fleet of Mercedes-Benz vehicles that he used to travel between his numerous palaces, while the nations roads rotted and many of his people starved. Infrastructure virtually collapsed, and many public service workers went months without being paid. Most money was siphoned off to Mobutu, his family, and top political and military leaders. Only the Special Presidential Division - on whom his physical safety depended - was paid adequately or regularly. A popular saying that the civil servants pretended to work while the state pretended to pay them expressed this grim reality.
Another feature of Mobutu's economic mismanagement, directly linked to the way he and his friends siphoned off so much of the country's wealth, was rampant inflation. The rapid decline in the real value of salaries strongly encouraged a culture of corruption and dishonesty among public servants of all kinds.
He was also the subject of a massive personality cult, devised by his Minister of Information, Dominique Sakombi Inongo. The evening news on television was preceded by an image of him descending through clouds from the heavens, portraits of him adorned many public places, government officials wore lapels bearing his portrait, and he held such titles as "Father of the Nation," "Savior of the People," and "Supreme Combatant."
However, during the Cold War, this did not prevent western countries like the United States or international organizations such as the International Monetary Fund from providing economic support for his regime through multiple loans, due to Mobutu's pro-Western, anti-communist stance. It was a widely held belief that it was either "Mobutu or chaos"; that is, that without Mobutu, Zaire would become politically unstable and prone to civil war, ethnic violence, or worse. Zaire's strategic location in the center of the continent and vast mineral wealth were also cited as reasons to support Mobutu.
 Foreign policy
 Relations with the United States
For the most part, Zaire enjoyed warm relations with the United States. The United States was the third largest foreign aid donor (after Belgium and France), and Mobutu befriended several U.S. presidents, including Nixon, Reagan, and George H.W. Bush. Relations did cool significantly in 1974-1975 over "Zairianization," and plummeted to a new low in the summer of 1975, when Mobutu accused the CIA of plotting his overthrow and expelled several diplomats. However, both countries found each other on the side of the Angolan Civil War, and the failure of Zairianization (and Mobutu's "retrocession") meant that the relation soon thawed. The Carter Administration, while critical of Mobutu, did support him, although not as much as he had hoped. Aside from delivering non-lethal supplies, the U.S.'s role during Shaba I was minimal. It did play a much larger role during Shaba II, though. Mobutu played on alleged East German and Cuban support of the rebels to obtain substantial U.S. support, which included U.S. transport planes airlifting French and Belgian paratroopers into Shaba. In the 1980s, Mobutu was consistently pro-Western; he renewed ties with Israel in 1982 (after severing them in 1973, mostly to establish his Third World credentials), sent troops to help the French in Chad, and supported most U.S. foreign policy initiatives. He visited the Reagan White House three times, and was the first African head of state to visit President Bush.
After the end of the Cold War, the United States began to think differently of Mobutu. With the Soviet Union gone, there was no longer any reason to support Mobutu as a bulwark against communism. Accordingly, the U.S. and other Western powers began pressuring Mobutu to improve the human rights situation. In 1993, Mobutu was denied a visa by the U.S. State Department after he sought to visit Washington, D.C.. Shortly after this, Mobutu was befriended by televangelist Pat Robertson, who promised to try to get the State Department to lift its ban on the African leader.
 Relations with the Soviet Union
Mobutu's relationship with the Soviet Union was frosty and tense. Mobutu, a staunch anticommunist, was not anxious to recognize the Soviets; he remembered well their support, albeit mostly vocal, of Lumumba and the Simba rebels. However, to project a non-aligned image, he did renew ties in 1967; the first Soviet ambassador arrived and presented his credentials in 1968 (Mobutu did, however, join the U.S. in condemning the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia that year). Mobutu viewed the Soviet presence as advantageous for two reasons: it allowed him to maintain an image of non-alignment, and it provided a convenient scapegoat for problems at home. For example, in 1970, he expelled four Soviet diplomats for carrying out "subversive activities," and in 1971, twenty Soviet officials were declared persona non grata for allegedly instigating student demonstrations at Lovanium University.
Moscow was the only major world capital Mobutu never visited, although he did accept an invitation to do so in 1974; however, for reasons unknown, he cancelled the visit at the last minute, and toured the People's Republic of China and North Korea, instead.
Relations cooled further in 1975, when the two countries found themselves opposing different sides in the Angolan Civil War. This had a dramatic effect on Zairian foreign policy for the next decade; bereft of his claim to African leadership (Mobutu was one of the few leaders who denied the Marxist government of Angola recognition), Mobutu turned increasingly to the U.S. and its allies, adopting pro-American stances on such issues as the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, Israel's position in international organizations, etc.
Mobutu condemned the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979, and in 1980, his was the first African nation to join the United States in boycotting the Summer Olympics in Moscow. Throughout the 1980s, he remained consistently anti-Soviet, and found himself opposing pro-Soviet countries such as Libya and Angola (he covertly supported the UNITA rebels); in the mid-1980s, he described Zaire as being surrounded by a "red belt" of radical states affiliated with the Soviets and/or Libya, the latter being especially antagonistic to Mobutu.
The collapse of the Soviet Union had disastrous repercussions for Mobutu. His anti-Soviet stance was the main catalyst for Western aid; without it, there was no longer any reason to support him. Western countries began calling for him to introduce democracy and improve human rights.
 Relations with the People's Republic of China
Initially, Zaire's relationship with the People's Republic of China was no better than its relationship with the Soviet Union. Memories of Chinese aid to Mulele and other Maoist rebels in Kwilu province during the ill-fated Simba rebellion remained fresh in Mobutu's mind. He also opposed seating China at the United Nations. However, by 1972, he began to see the Chinese in a different light, as a counterbalance to both the Soviet Union as well as his intimate ties with the United States, Israel, and South Africa (Zaire did not establish diplomatic relations with South Africa until 1991, and Zaire was publicly very critical of S.A., but Mobutu had extensive, albeit secret, ties to it; for further details, see Thomas M. Callagy, South Africa in Southern Africa: The Intensifying Vortex of Violence and the chapter "Zaire in the International Arena" in Zaire: Continuity and Political Change in an Oppressive State by Winsome J. Leslie). In November of 1972, Mobutu extended the Chinese (as well as East Germany and North Korea) diplomatic recognition. The following year, Mobutu paid a visit to Beijing, where he met personally with Chairman Mao and received promises of $100 million in technical aid. In 1974, Mobutu made a surprise visit to both China and North Korea, during the time he was originally scheduled to visit the Soviet Union. Upon returning home, both his politics and rhetoric became markedly more radical; it was around this time that Mobutu began criticizing Belgium and the United States (the latter for not doing enough, in Mobutu's opinion, to combat white minority rule in southern Africa), introduced the "obligatory civic work" program called salongo, and initiated "radicalization" (an extension of 1973's "Zairianization" policy). Mobutu even borrowed a title - the Helmsman - from Mao. Incidentally, late 1974-early 1975 was when his personality cult reached its peak.
China and Zaire shared a common goal in Central Africa, namely doing everything in their power to halt Soviet gains in the area. Accordingly, both Zaire and China covertly funneled aid to the FNLA (and later, UNITA) in order to prevent the pro-Soviet, pro-Cuban MPLA from coming to power. In addition to inviting Holden Roberto and his guerrillas to Beijing for training, China provided weapons and money to the rebels. Zaire itself launched an ill-fated, pre-emptive invasion of Angola in a bid to install a pro-Kinshasa government, but was repulsed by Cuban troops. The expedition was a fiasco with far-reaching repercussions, most notably the Shaba I and Shaba II invasions, both of which China opposed. China sent military aid to Zaire during both invasions, and accused the Soviet Union and Cuba (who were alleged to have supported the Shaban rebels, although this was and remains speculation) of working to de-stabilize Central Africa.
In 1983, as part of his 11 nation African tour, Premier Zhao Ziyang visited Kinshasa, and announced that he was cancelling Zaire's $100 million debt to China; the money borrowed would be reinvested in joint Chinese-Zairian projects. China continued to provide military equipment and training into the late 1980s. Following Mobutu's abandonment by the West, China assumed a more active role in the country; an estimated 1,000 Chinese technicians reportedly were working on agricultural and forestry projects in Zaire in the early 1990s.
 Relations with Libya
In the 1980s, Mobutu's principal enemy was certainly Muammar al-Gaddafi. In May 1985, while visiting Burundi, Gaddafi urged Zairians to rise up and "physically eliminate" Mobutu. When the Voice of Zaire and the Kinshasa central post office were bombed in 1984, in both cases the Zairian government pinned the blame on Libya.
Zaire also militarily supported the government of Chad's Hissein Habré's during that country's civil war; Mobutu's primary fear was that a pro-Gaddafi government would take hold in Chad and threaten Sudan and the Central African Republic, both countries contiguous with Zaire.
Mobutu also enjoyed an amicable relationship with Sudan's Gaafar Nimeiry, who was also an enemy of the Gaddafi government.
 Art and literature
Mobutu was the subject of the three-part documentary Mobutu: King of Zaire by Thierry Michel. Mobutu was also featured in the feature film Lumumba, directed by Raoul Peck, which detailed the pre-coup and coup years from the perspective of Lumumba.
Mobutu also might be considered as the inspiration behind some of the characters in the works of the poerty of Wole Soyinka, the novel A Bend in the River by V.S. Naipaul, and Anthills of the Savannah by Chinua Achebe.
 Coalition government
In May 1990, due to economic problems and domestic unrest, Mobutu agreed to end the ban on other political parties and appointed a transitional government that would lead to promised elections, but he retained substantial powers. However, following riots in Kinshasa by unpaid soldiers, Mobutu brought opposition figures into a coalition government, but he still connived to retain control of the security services and important ministries. Factional divisions led to the creation of two governments in 1993, one pro and one anti-Mobutu. The anti-Mobutu government was headed by Laurent Monsengwo and Étienne Tshisekedi of the UDPS. The economic situation was still dreadful, and, in 1994, the two groups joined as the High Council of Republic - Parliament of Transition (HCR-PT). Mobutu appointed Kengo Wa Dondo, an advocate of austerity and free-market reforms, as prime minister. Mobutu was becoming increasingly physically frail and during one of his absences for medical treatment in Europe, Tutsis captured much of eastern Zaire.
|History of DR Congo|
Mobutu was overthrown in the First Congo War by Laurent-Désiré Kabila, who was supported by the Tutsi governments of Rwanda, Burundi and Uganda. Tutsis had long opposed Mobutu, due to his open support for Rwandan Hutu extremists responsible for the Rwandan genocide in 1994. When his government issued an order in November 1996 forcing Tutsis to leave Zaire on penalty of death, they erupted in rebellion. From eastern Zaire, with the support of presidents, Paul Kagame of Rwanda, and Yoweri Museveni of Uganda, they launched an offensive to overthrow Mobutu, joining forces with locals opposed to him as they marched west toward Kinshasa. Ailing with cancer, Mobutu was unable to coordinate the resistance, which crumbled in front of the march, the army being more used to suppressing civilians than defending the large country. On May 16, 1997, following failed peace talks, the Tutsi rebels and other anti-Mobutu groups as the Alliance des Forces Democratiques pour la Liberation du Congo-Zaire (AFDL) captured Kinshasa. Zaire was renamed the Democratic Republic of Congo. Mobutu went into temporary exile in Togo but lived mostly in Morocco. Laurent-Désiré Kabila became the new president in the same day.
Mobutu's legacy remains the subject of debate among Zaireans. Some condemn him as a cruel, kleptocratic tyrant. Others credit him with keeping the country relatively stable and peaceful throughout most of his rule and for providing Zaireans with a sense of national identity and pride. In a country with over 200 tribes, Mobutu was able to maintain order and avert civil war, although at high cost. His legacy can still be felt in Congo today.
His legacy internationally is that of an unscrupulous one. He is a constantly recurring theme in 419 scams in emails sent to anybody worldwide. A 419er may claim to be Mobutu's wife, son, or daughter and promise a percent of his wealth to the email recipient if the recipient does a few things first, including pay advance fees. Another cause of his unscrupulous legacy abroad is his record on human rights as well as mismanagement of the economy and the institutionalization of corruption.
Mobutu was married twice. His first wife, Marie-Antoinette Mobutu, died of heart failure on October 22 1977 in Genolier, Switzerland at age 36. On May 1 1980, he married his mistress, Bobi Ladawa, on the eve of a visit by Pope John Paul II, thus legitimizing his relationship in the eyes of the Church. Four of his sons from his first marriage died: Nyiwa (d. September 16, 1994), Konga (d. 1995), Kongulu, and Manda (d. November 27, 2004) . A son from his second marriage, François Joseph Mobutu Nzanga Ngangawe, announced his candidacy for the 2006 Democratic Republic of the Congo elections. A daughter, Yakpwa (nicknamed Yaki), was briefly married to a Belgian man named Pierre Janssen, who later wrote a book which described Mobutu's lifestyle in great detail.
He had seventeen children.
 By Mobutu
"The very existence of the Nation was threatened. Threatened on all sides, from the interior and exterior. From the interior, by the sterile conflicts of politicians who sacrificed the country and their compatriots to their own interests. Nothing counted for them but power...and what the exercise of power could bring them. Fill their own pockets, exploit the Congo and the Congolese, this was their trademark. Given such examples, both national and provincial administrations were mired in inertia, inefficiency, and worse yet, corruption. At all levels, many of those in our country who held a morsel of public power allowed themselves to be corrupted, served individuals and companies who paid bribes and neglected the others... ...certain politicians, to maintain themselves in power or to regain it, did not hesitate to seek help from foreign powers... ...the social, economic and financial situation of the country is catastrophic." - Mobutu explaining the reasons behind his November 1965 coup (Crawford Young and Thomas Turner, The Rise and Decline of the Zairian State, p. 42)
"It is better to die of hunger than to be rich and a slave to colonialism." (David Lamb, The Africans, p. 44)
"Positive non-alignment, or indiscriminate openmindedness to the world, is a fundamental feature of Zaire's foreign policy. To this end, we are exerting ourselves in a bid to promote genuine cooperation among all countries that are willing to accept Zaire for what it is...The debacles that Zaire has faced and continues to face in various areas - colonization, alienation, exploitation, secession, rebellion - are due to the imperialist policies of the superpowers who have assumed the right to govern the world. Thus, we do not want to be involved directly or indirectly in any attempt to subjugate a state or group of states." - Mobutu explaining his foreign policy (Jeffrey M. Elliot, ed., and Mervyn M. Dymally, ed., Voices of Zaire: Rhetoric or Reality, p. 51)
"In our African tradition, there are never two chiefs; there is sometimes a natural heir to the chief, but can anyone tell me that he has ever known a village that has two chiefs? That is why we Congolese, in the desire to conform to the traditions of our continent, have resolved to group all the energies of the citizens of our country under the banner of a single national party." (Martin Meredith, The Fate of Africa, p. 295-296)
"We are resorting to this authenticity in order to rediscover our soul, which colonization had almost erased from our memories and which we are seeking in the tradition of our ancestors." (Lamb, p. 45)
"Clearly, I would be lying if I said I do not have a bank account in Europe; I do. I would be lying if I said I do not have considerable money in my account; I do. Yes, I do have a fair amount of money. However, I would estimate it to total less than 50 million dollars. What is that for twenty-two years as head of state in such a big country?" Mobutu to congressman Mervyn Dymally, 1988 (Meredith, p. 697-698)
"Between a brother and a friend, the choice is clear." - Mobutu announcing the break in diplomatic relations between Zaire and Israel at the United Nations Security Council, November 4, 1973 (Young and Turner, p. 138)
"Zaire is the country that has been the most heavily exploited in the world. That is why farms, ranches, plantations, concessions, commerce, and real estate agencies will be turned over to sons of the country." - November 30, 1973, on the eve of "Zairianization" 
"In a word, everything is for sale, anything can be bought in our country. And in this flow, he who holds the slightest cover of public authority uses it illegally to acquire money, goods, prestige or to avoid obligations. The right to be recognized by a public servant, to have one's children enrolled in school, to obtain medical care, etc. ...are all subject to this tax which, though invisible, is known and expected by all." - November 25, 1977 (D.J. Gould, "Patrons and Clients: The Role of the Military in Zaire Politics," in Isaac Mowoe, ed., The Performance of Soldiers as Governors, p. 485)
"If you want to steal, steal a little in a nice way. But if you steal too much to become rich overnight, you'll be caught." (Ibid.)
"Treating me as a thief is a grave, unacceptable, intolerable insult which stems from contempt and racist condescension." - Mobutu, in response to claims by the Belgian media that he was taking Belgian aid for himself (Blaine Harden, Africa: Dispatches from a Fragile Continent, p. 52)
"As regards George Bush, I've met him thirteen times. We know each other from way back. He was in charge of the CIA and knew Zaire's problems backwards. He received me at his home in Maine with his mother, wife and children and grandchildren. I met him again recently at the funeral of Emperor Hirohito. He is an intelligent, open and sensitive man, with strong convictions." - Mobutu, on his friendship with George H. W. Bush (Meredith, p. 308)
"The chief is the chief. He is the eagle who flies high and cannot be touched by the spit of the toad." - October 1991 (Meredith, p. 391)
"If I could do it all again, I'd be a farmer." - Mobutu to his national security advisor, Honoré Ngbanda, "the Terminator" (Meredith, p. 532)
"I cannot sleep at all on a plane and I am terribly scared of sleeping pills. To accuse me of wasting money - no, I am sorry. Just think of the time I save." - Mobutu, asked by a German journalist to justify the expense of his Concorde while the nation's economy was in crisis (Ibid.)
"When you are a soldier, either you surrender or you are killed. But you don't flee." - Mobutu, vowing to resist the Kabila rebellion (Meredith, p. 535)
 About Mobutu
"Only one man, previously noted for his outstanding services to his country, can assure the well-being of each one of us and create the conditions propitous of the people's moral and spiritual growth, and offer them a common ideal, the feelings of a joint destiny and the knowledge of belonging to one country." - 1970 MPR Congress (Young and Turner, p. 164)
"This man has spoken; he has written, set forth orientation and decrees. The sum total of his actions constitutes Mobutism, just as the sum total of Mao's teachings constitutes Maoism...The President and Founder of the MPR repeats incessantly that a people aiming for greatness should neither repudiate other nations nor copy them." - Mpinga Kasenda (Young and Turner, p. 47)
"In our religion, we have our own theologians. In all religions, and at all times, there are prophets. Why not today? God has sent a great prophet, our prestigious Guide Mobutu - this prophet is our liberator, our Messiah. Our Church is the MPR. Its chief is Mobutu, we respect him like one respects a Pope. Our gospel is Mobutism. This is why the crucifixes must be replaced by the image of our Messiah. And party militants will want to place at its side his glorious mother, Mama Yemo, who gave birth to such a son." - interior minister Engulu Baanga Mpongo (Young and Turner, p. 169)
"There just is no effective control over the financial transactions of the Presidency; one does not differentiate between official and personal expenses in this office...All endeavors to improve budgetary control in Zaire had to stop short before the operations of the central governing authority: La Présidence! The corruptive system in Zaire with all its wicked and ugly manifestations, its mismanagement and fraud will destroy all endeavors of international institutions, of friendly governments, and of the commercial banks towards recovery and rehabilitation of Zaire's economy. Sure, there will be new promises by Mobutu, by members of his government, rescheduling and rescheduling again of a growing public debt, but no - repeat - no prospect of Zaire's creditors to get their money back in any foreseeable future. There was, and there still is, one sole obstacle that negates all prospect: the corruption of the team in power." - Erwin Blumenthal (Meredith, p. 305)
"We know how allergic you are to candor and truth...For fifteen years now we have obeyed you. What have we done, during this time, to be useful and agreeable to you? We have sung, danced, animated, in short, we have been subjected to all sorts of humiliation, all forms of subjugation which even foreign colonization never made us suffer... After fifteen years of the power you have exercised alone, we find ourselves divided into two absolutely distinct camps. On one side, a few scandalously rich persons. On the other, the mass of people suffering the darkest misery." - "Group of fifteen," 1980 (Meredith, p. 306)
"Mobutu truly has a malady. He is a kleptomaniac. Zaire is ruled by an uncontrolled thief. It is a kleptocracy." - Étienne Tshisekedi (Meredith, p. 307)
"I have come to appreciate the dynamism that is so characteristic of Zaire and Zairians and to respect your dedication to fairness and reason. I have come to admire, Mr. President, your personal courage and leadership in Africa." - Vice-President George H.W. Bush, visiting Kinshasa, November, 1982 (Meredith, p. 307)
"Zaire is among America's oldest friends, and its president - President Mobutu - one of our most valued friends. And we are proud and very, very pleased to have you with us today." - President George H.W. Bush (Meredith, p. 308)
 See also
- Edgerton, Robert. The Troubled Heart of Africa: A History of the Congo. St. Martin's Press. ISBN 0-312-30486-2
- Elliot, Jeffrey M., and Mervyn M. Dymally (eds.). Voices of Zaire: Rhetoric or Reality. Washington Institute Press. ISBN 0-88702-045-3
- Gould, David. Bureaucratic Corruption and Underdevelopment in the Third World: The Case of Zaire. ASIN B0006E1JR8
- Gran, Guy, and Galen Hull (eds.). Zaire: The Political Economy of Underdevelopment. ISBN 0-275-90358-3
- Kelly, Sean. America's Tyrant: The CIA and Mobutu of Zaire. American University Press. ISBN 1-879383-17-9
- Lesie, Winsome J. Zaire: Continuity and Political Change in an Oppressive State. Westview Press. ISBN 0-86531-298-2
- MacGaffey, Janet (ed.). The Real Economy of Zaire: The Contribution of Smuggling and Other Unofficial Activities to National Wealth. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press. ISBN 0-8122-1365-3
- Meditz, Sandra W. and Tim Merrill. Zaire: A Country Study. Claitor's Law Books and Publishing Division. ISBN 1-57980-162-5 Available here
- Mokoli, Mondonga M. State Against Development: The Experience of Post-1965 Zaire. New York: Greenwood Press. ISBN 0-313-28213-7
- Sandbrook, Richard (1985). The Politics of Africa's Economic Stagnation. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-31961-7
- Schatzberg, Michael G. The Dialectics of Oppression in Zaire. Indiana University Press. ISBN 0-253-20694-4
- Schatzberg, Michael G. Mobutu or Chaos? University Press of America. ISBN 0-8191-8130-7
- Wrong, Michela. In The Footsteps of Mr. Kurtz: Living on the Brink of Disaster in Mobutu's Congo. Perennial. ISBN 0-06-093443-3
- Young, Crawford, and Thomas Turner. The Rise and Decline of the Zairian State. University of Wisconsin Press. ISBN 0-299-10110-X
- Braeckman, Colette. Le Dinosaure, le Zaïre de Mobutu. Fayard. ISBN 2-213-02863-X
- Janssen, Pierre. A la cour de Mobutu. Michel Lafon. ISBN 2-84098-332-X
- Mobutu Sese Seko. Discours, allocutions et messages, 1965-1975. Éditions J.A. ISBN 2-85258-022-5
- Ngbanda Nzambo-ku-Atumba, Honoré. Ainsi sonne le glas! Les Derniers Jours du Maréchal Mobutu. Gideppe. ISBN 2-9512000-2-1
- Nguza Karl-i-Bond, Jean. Mobutu ou l'Incarnation du Mal Zairois. Bellew Publishing Co Ltd. ISBN 0-86036-197-7
 External links
- Speech by Mobutu, vowing to resist the rebel onslaught and remain in power
- CNN article on recovery of Mobutu fortune
- Anatomy of an Autocracy: Mobutu's 32-Year Reign (New York Times biography by Howard W. French)
- Note on his name
- When he was King (interview with Mobutu)
- Mobutu's legacy, show over substance
- Hope and retribution in Zaire, Allan Little, From our own Correspondent, BBC News, 24 May, 1997.
- Commentary on Mobutu's relationship with American preacher Pat Robertson.
- Article on Mobutu from www.dictatorofthemonth.com (written by user: MinnesotanConfederacy)
- Detailed study of Shaba I and Shaba II
- Inside Mobutu's court, New African, November 1997
- IMDB.com Lumumba (2000) - Film about the rise of the independent Congo/Zaire.
Joseph Kasa Vubu
as President of the Republic of the Congo
|President of Zaire|
Before 1964 President of the Republic of the Congo
Before 1971 President of the Democratic Republic of the Congo
as President of the Democratic Republic of the Congo
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