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Mobutu Sese Seko Zaire/Drc Congo

Mobutu Sese Seko Zaire/Democratic Republic of the Congo

This report focuses on Mobutu's ruling in Zaire and its effects on the nation. Major happenings in Zaire during Mobutu's time in power from 1960 to1997 are discussed based on historical facts. There is no denial in the fact that Mobutu's ruling took place with the support of Western powers (U.S. and Belgian). He was reliant on Western backing to remain in power as long as he could. Not only did his power make people suffer from various issues in their own country, but it also made ways for other authorities to follow his path. Mobutu, with the help of his associates, succeeded in stealing about half of $12 billion received in the form of aid, which could be used to improve economic conditions in the country. His power and corruption continued until 1997 when Laurent Kabila led forces, which helped in expelling him from the country. He later died in Morocco in 1997. Mobutu became prominent because of his corrupt governance and the misuse of billions of dollars, given as aid, during his reign. He controlled the country for more than three decades, a period of extensive violations of human rights. Due to the widespread corruption and exploitation, many people started naming his power as 'kleptocracy'.


Mobutu Sese Seko Zaire: Democratic Republic of the Congo


Mobutu Sese Seko was a long-time ruler of Zaire, previously Belgian Congo that he re-titled in 1971. His government was described as exploitive and cruel and his critics described him in terms of his efforts to control; pressure for customization; and hunger for money. During his ruling, he received great support from the Western authorities, which kept him going. However, the resistance against Mobutu did develop and in 1997 he was exiled from Zaire, leaving the nation in extreme poverty and huge debt. This factual report paper on a historical event will answer specific questions about Mobutu's reign in Zaire and its impact on that nation. The paper will look into a short biography of Mobutu Sese Seko; his engagement in corrupt policies; relationship with western nations like the U.S.; the resources he controlled and how his bad governance impoverished his people; how ally corporations benefited; the role of world donors like IMF and World; the nation's new hope after Mobutu's departure; and why the U.S. must support Congo's democratic efforts to build a new and better country.

Who was Mobutu Sese Seko?

Mobuto Sese Seko (1930-97) was the president of Zaire, which is now renamed as the Democratic Republic of the Congo. His original name was Joseph Desire Mobutu. After finishing his studies in Brussels, he returned to the Belgian Congo. Mobuto joined the nationalist movement in 1956. He was soon elected as an army chief of staff after leading an army revolution against the nationalist government of Patrice Lumumba in 1960. In 1965, a second coup took place, and in 1965, Mobutu took hold of the prime minister's office. In 1967, he initiated a presidential type of government, with him as the initiative's leader. The constitution did not come into power till 1970, when Mobutu was in the right age to be elected as a president.

In 1971, Mobuto changed the country's name to Zaire and also his name to Mobutu Sese Seko in1972. This was done as a part of the program 'national authenticity' introduced by him. In addition to that, names of the places were Africanized and residents excluded their Christian names as per requirement. Mobutu was vigorous for power and was supported by the Western intelligence agencies that saw him as a robust candidate for the revolutionary states such as Angola. With all the backing and his abilities, one-party state was developed (Schatzberg, 1991).

Mobutu tried to control the fights between tribes and persuaded a sense of nationhood. On the other hand, he collected huge amounts of wealth through fraud and economic corruption. As a result, this led to people naming his power as 'kleptocracy'. The nation went through many issues such as a large debt, devaluation of currency and uncontrolled inflation. Economic decline and conflicts forced him to share the authority with opposition leaders by 1991. However, he managed to stop the change with the army's help until Mar, 1997, when Laurent Kabila ran the rebellious forces and expelled Mobutu from the country. He died in Morocco in 1997 (Parker, 1997).

How did Mobutu engage in corrupt policies practices? What resources did Mobutu control in Congolese? And how did the corporations courting the Congo's new government benefit from Mobutu's corrupt rule?

By the time Mobutu was expelled from the country in 1997, he had taken about half of the $12 billion received by Zaire (now Democratic Republic of Congo), which was the amount of aid from IMF, during his 32 years of ruling. His act left the country under massive debt. He smartly used the tactic that the country was under threat of attack from the then Marxist government of Angola in order to make the west forget about him stealing from one of the most well off countries in Africa. This led towards the destruction of the country's financial power by exploitation and concession agreements. For a long time, Mobutu was backed by Western forces and prices of Zaire's supplies of diamonds, copper and cobalt continued to increase. Not only did his policy seem to work successfully, it also led many African presidents to copy his ruling style.

Mobutu not only received support from western forces, but the United States also regarded him as a powerful role in preserving the extensive resources such as uranium, diamonds, cobalt, cadmium, copper and gold that the South African, French, Belgian and U.S. multinationals misused in Zaire. Despite international efforts such as the UN settlement against corruption, western businesses were still bribing the local officers on a large scale. The strategy of hiding the ways to reach the useful resources in developing countries was creating a means for corrupt governments to do the same with their people. Many companies that were in support of Congo's new government took advantage of Mobutu's fraudulent rule, and the IMF and World Bank funds that used to help them, with regards to the money taken by Mobutu (Wilen, 2012).

How and why did the U.S. view Mobutu Sese Seko as a valued anticommunist ally?

Mobutu had controlled the Zairean government since the United States planned to expel the Prime Minister Patrice Lumumba in 1960, right after he took control of power in the first national elections in that country. The U.S. was against the non-aligned and nationalist strategies of Lumumba and generally regarded him as an addition to the foreign policy of Soviet Union. While working as an army chief-of-staff of Lumumba, Mobutu carried out the coup d'etat on September 5, 1960, which was backed by CIA, in which Lumumba was expelled. Mobutu played a vital role in the assassination of Lumumba in January 1961. The United States policy proved to be conflicting in many Third World countries. Even though the U.S. had shown concern for 'modernization' and democracy in the Third World, it supported political leaders and parties that acknowledged anticommunism, but emerged to be authoritarian, often incapable or reluctant to uphold economic growth and democracy.

Records show that in Africa the U.S. was sturdily in support of some of the most corrupt, cruel, visionless and hated leaders. These mainly include Mobutu Sese Seko in Zaire, Samuel Doe in Liberia, Daniel Arap Moi in Kenya, Jaafar Numeiri in the Sudan and Siad Barre in Somalia. Therefore, Mobutu's political career survival largely depended on his position as a West's Cold War patron rather than internal acceptability. However, if there was no need of communism in Africa, the United States would have been less likely to be linked with Mobutu (Afoaku, 1997).

How did Mobutu impoverish most of Congolese?

Mobutu's leadership didn't create any great impact on the local people's daily lives. Due to widespread corruption, public services like fixing the roads to managing the hospitals and schools were affected. Workers survived in this corrupt system even after their salaries were stolen. Sometimes, nurses asked for payments before they gave any shots. On the other hand, the police and soldiers were regularly involved in bribing the people. Even in the presence of many economic issues, the U.S. didn't stop to regard Mobutu as a beneficial partner against both radical African movements and international communism.

Mobutu was mainly backed by the United States under the supervisions of Carter, Kennedy, and Johnson. They even supported the military involvement to ensure the survival of Mobutu's government against internal revolution. However, this resulted in bringing extreme deprivation in the lives of Zairian people. Their people were among the most underprivileged in Africa. They were not given their necessary rights by the government, though there were enough resources in the country to feed and give them better living standards (Emizet, 2000). The… [END OF PREVIEW]

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