eye.gif (5286 bytes) Point of VIEW.

A purely analytical perception...


ZAIRE
A STUDY IN SCARLET

 

Continued from page. 1

Previous | Next

Top

Siphoning

 Congo is a country rich in natural wealth and produces substantial quantities of copper, diamonds, oil, hydroelectric power and cobalt. Within a short time of ascending to the office of president of Congo, Mobutu made a shambles of their free election process by creating a combination of ballots that were either green symbolizing “progress” or red symbolizing “chaos”. Naturally his party, the only one allowed to be on the green ballot, and in his first election, not surprisingly, he had only 157 red votes cast against him. It has been said that many of the people that voted against him never were seen again.

“Perfecting a system of rule by theft (called kleptocracy), Mobutu pillaged the public sector, harassing or jailing those who objected. In some years he and his cronies siphoned off up to 50% of Congo’s capital budget as well as hundreds of millions in mineral export revenues, foreign aid and loans, and private investment (some guaranteed by the U.S. Eximbank). The effects were catastrophic. Despite vast mineral wealth (diamonds, cobalt, copper), oil deposits, and immense hydroelectric and agricultural potential, Congo’s per capita income has dropped almost two-thirds since independence in 1960 and is listed as the lowest of all 174 countries in the UNDP’s 1996.” [1] 

Mobutu wasted no time and immediately declared himself “Marshal” and introduced a policy of “Congoization and authenticity”,  (Z & A) which in English simply meant that the country would be nationalizing expatriate owned interests within the country and turning them over to the population for involuntary obliteration. Also, part of what became the essence of Mobutu’s Z & A plan was the conceptionalization and construction of a series of outrageous mega-projects that were for the most part ill conceived, defectively structured, superfluous and which ultimately became a substantial part of the country’s problems. However, this was exactly what the cunning Mobutu had in mind. However, at the time, no one had a clue.  

Moreover, one of his more grandiose ideas resulted in the erection of a power plant, the Inga Dam, which was announced as capable of producing one-third of the world’s hydroelectric energy along with a 1,100-mile, high-tension power grid. The only problem with this wonderful concept was the fact that there was no infrastructure to support the project and no way of getting the energy to others that could potentially benefit from the energy that it would produce. For the most part though, Mobutu didn't much care, as the whole project was a cover up that allowed him to siphon the money into his pocket.  

Mobutu had a stringent agenda that he followed with precision. Have a cadre of engineers create an endless stream of potential world-class projects that would be fashioned to provide a better living for those living in his country. How could anyone turn that down? They couldn’t and they didn’t. The United States put the arm on both the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund and told them clearly that this was how Mobutu was going to be paid. Everyone went along with the charade.  

He would then submit these plans along with the estimates of their cost to the World Bank. Make a great case for their need and have them fund the project which they did with great alacrity. Lastly and not leastly, he would then pocket most of the money and have it delivered out of harms way. In this manner, at least  in Mobutu’s opinion, he was doing a great service to everyone. He was well aware that most of the World Bank’s projects in Africa not only hadn’t been successful, but they had sent many of the countries that had relied upon World Bank infrastructure development advice back into the stone age of even further. He firmly believed that by not building these projects that he was paid to deliver, that he was in reality doing a substantial public good. He was both enriching himself and saving his people from environmental destruction, an unbeatable combination, at least in his mind. Furthermore, he believed that he would be saving the World Bank substantial embarrassment by not having another failure on their books. What a guy!

 Former President Mobutu Sese Seko Kuku Ngbendu Waza Banga, which some people indicate translates into, 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, accumulated assets during his reign of only slightly less than the amount of assistance his country received from global institutions. One other way of looking at his economic appetite is many economists who have carefully studied the situation have determined that he pocketed almost one-half of the country’s gross domestic product during his reign. Thus, he was able, under the watchful eyes of his benefactors, to convert almost all of the foreign aid his country received, during his term, the longest reign in this century, to his personal gain.

 

When the smoke had cleared he counted among most prized possessions a chateaux in Monte Carlo and another in Switzerland. A small palace in the Ivory Coast, another in Paris and a third in Belgium. Instead of flying by his own country’s national airlines or by military aircraft, he preferred to rent the Concord to fly his retinue all over the globe, while provided living quarters for them at each stop along the way. “Bernard Kouchner, a minister in the Government of the former French President Francois Mitterrand, referring to Mr. Mobutu’s wealth, estimated by some to be as great as $5 billion, once described the African leader as “a walking bank vault with a leopard-skin cap.” however, Mobutu described his luxury laden Concord trips as a money saving venture for the country. His reasoning was obscure at best. He indicated that most of the people he traveled with held important jobs within his government and it was critically important that they get back to work as quickly as possible for the good of the country. You can’t really fault him for doing something that nice for his people. 

Or how about the time that Mobutu decided to go into the sheep ranching and being a cautious man he had his minister find where the best sheep in the world could be purchased. After a substantial research on the subject, he was advised that Venezuelan sheep were indeed the world's best. He ordered a government jet transport to Venezuela, piloted by a picked crew and had them make 32 round trips to stock his farm with the very best. This guy really knew how to go first class and you can tell why he is running his own country.  

Incidents such as the forgoing gave Mobutu new cache in the West. Wags coined the world “kleptocracy” to better describe the form of government that was being practiced in his country. After all has been said and done, the most positive aspect of Mobutu’s reign may well be the creation of that word in an attempt to describe the pillaging of a country to a degree previously considered unattainable. However, Mobutu and his stooges eventually had to get out of town in a hurry as a revolutionary force closed in on downtown Kinshasa. According to Chester Crocker, a then U.S. assistant secretary of state for Africa who quipped as he watched them depart, “The DC-10 could barely be able to take off, its belly was so full of stereos and microwaves.”  Michela Wrong in her book, “Black Man’s Burden” tells several more, “The Congo’s ambassador to Japan sold the embassy in Tokyo and is thought to have pocketed the proceeds. Then there is story about the fuel rod missing from Kinshasa’s nuclear reactor - the improbable story of how Kinshasa wound up with a nuclear reactor…” 

While Mobutu was becoming richer by the hour, the people of Congo were quickly going down the drain. This despotic leader whose only interest was enriching himself at the expense of others was able to pervert the meaning of corruption by taking money form public services necessary for the country and its people to function even in the most minimalistic manner. Schools, hospitals, roads, utilities and communications were cannibalized to line Mobutu’s already swollen pockets. As if these greedy conversions didn’t supply enough to last Mobutu the rest of his natural life under the most lavish of circumstances and he certain knew how to be lavish, he was not done yet. He stopped paying literally everyone in government and redirected their paychecks to himself.  

He had numerous techniques of accomplishing this bizarre act. Sometimes the government checks would just fail to arrive. At other times he inflated the economy in order to pay off debts the country’s creditors but simultaneously make the people’s money worthless. Moreover, what little they had was at times confiscated by the government if the people were unable to account for where they had gotten it. You see, by this time, Congo’s economy had gone underground because that was the only way around Mobutu’s confiscatory system of taxing almost everything but the air the people were breathing. Many of his loyal citizens indicated that if he had stayed in office longer, he would have gotten around to that.

 “The Democratic Republic of Congo is both rich and poor. Underneath its sprawling jungle lay many of the world’s most valuable minerals - from gold and diamonds to columbite-tantalite, a vital component in the production of mobile phones and computer chips. But the natural riches have not helped its 51 million inhabitants. Years of corruption and mismanagement have left the country in ruins. Only one in every 1,250 Congolese owns a telephone, for instance. For most, technology still means a hoe or a basket. 

Per capita gross domestic product is now less than $100 a year, one of the lowest levels in the world. Congo’s economy was the world’s worst performer last year, shrinking by 11.4%. According to the Central Bank, it has contracted every year but one for the past decade. Official coffee production is just 10% of what it was a decade ago; cobalt production is down a third. The state-owned copper mining company earned the Central Bank 800 million in 1989, last year it brought in just $40 million…” ([2]) 

Mobutu had the ability to create chaos although he probably didn’t intend it that way. What followed became literal national anarchy with policemen and soldiers resorting to shakedowns and harassment to accumulate enough money to feed their families. In spite of the fact that the country was rapidly spinning out of control, the United States still saw Mobutu as their guy, especially  when it came to taking care of matters brought about by the ever active Russian emissaries that were sent into the reason to destabilize Africa. Mobutu was seen as especially valuable during the civil war in Angola where the United States backed UNITA rebels were working overtime to put a monkey wrench into the plans of the leftist leaning government that the Russians had installed there.   

Gradual Unraveling 

However, this kind of despotic rule could only go on for so long. By 1990, the people had enough of his despotic rule. Nevertheless, they were only able to bring about elections for the first time in a number of years, but Mobutu was able to rig them once again. The people’s optimism of a chance at a new start was soundly trounced at the polls through a combination of Mobutu’s strong armed tactics, phony ballots, payoffs and a series of other underhanded political moves. The real pity of the situation was that in spite of the stultifying aroma coming out of the Government’s system, there had been some progress by the people in dealing with their plight. Through an intelligent use of human labor, many of the necessary infrastructure necessities had found a way to reopen and schools, hospitals and media facilities were at least operating. The people were operating the infrastructure in spite of the government. However, the loss to Mobutu in the election was devastating to many.  

It wasn’t until four-years later that the people got another opportunity to dump their fearless leader. Rwanda, Congo’s neighbor had gotten into the genocide game in a big way. They determined that the Hutu’s were not full blooded Rwandans and should be eliminated. Not feeling that elimination was healthy for them, all of the Hutu’s that were able to travel, packed up their belongings and headed for Congo. While it worked for the Hutu, it was a major problem for Mobutu who did not have the money to support all of these homeless folks in spite of his empathetic nature. At the same time, he really was ticked off at the Rwandan Government for causing the whole thing to happen to begin with. 

However, as always, he was up to the task and constructed a model in which he could profit from the horrible event. Mobutu firmly believed that he could turn the whole thing around by selling discount weapons to the Hutu’s at big prices and devise a plan for them to invade Rwanda.  However, it was always Rwanda that had the upper hand in fighting with Congo and the people were brutally slaughtered. Mobutu did not lose any sleep over the event because he would not be responsible for feeding them anymore. In addition, he had already separated them from whatever money they may have had. The United Nations issued a report that indicated exactly what Rwanda was about in Congo: 

“The panel found that Rwanda could have financed most of its war effort from Congo’s colombite Tantalite (coltan), including coltan stocks looted early in the war. Over an 18 month period it is estimated that the Rwandan army, which effectively controlled the exploitation in Rwandan-controlled territory, must have mad at least $250 million from coltan.” ([3]) 

The craze for coltan, which is an extremely exotic material, often used in products such as cell-phones, jet engines, night vision goggles, air bags, fiber optics and transistors, became so hectic that it started to endanger wildlife in the vicinity. “The New York-based Wildlife Conservation Society says the coltan boom has even sent miners into the region’s Kahuzi-Biega National Park, threatening survivors among a population of endangered gorillas depleted by war and refugees.” ([4]) Making maters even worse was the fact that the park is one of a kind and has been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site. In simple terms, that means that when some of the species found here are gone, they ain’t coming back.  

As much as any of Cong’s fabled mineral riches - and lately, far more than most, - coltan explains what all those armies are doing in Congo. Pursuit of any one commodity may not explain why six foreign countries, two rebel groups and assorted militias came there to fight. When the RCD rebels and their Rwandan backers started the current war in August 1998, Congo’s wealth of gold, diamonds and copper was well known, but almost no one had heard of coltan, then selling for less than $20 a pound. But with the price of a pound of coltan sometimes exceeding $100 - or $200,000 a ton, the unit by which it is exported by chartered cargo plane to Europe - the trade goes a considerable way toward explaining why the belligerents have been so reluctant to depart.” [5] 

While this whole affair was occurring in the eastern quadrant of Congo, Mobutu determined to kill two birds with one stone. While the Hutu were fighting the Rwandans, he sent his army into the territory which was also occupied by the indigenous Tutsis (Banyamulenge) and seized everything they had.  He also sent them scurrying over the Rwandan border, which tended to confuse everyone in the region so enormously that outsiders had a hard time figuring out what was going on. With hundreds of thousands of people simultaneously headed in opposite directions it was enough to give even the most callused individual stomach cramps.  However, the whole thing wasn’t so tragic it would have made an interesting soap opera.  However, being manipulated in this way didn’t really sit well with the Tutsis who felt that they were being thrown out of their historic homeland and they rebelled. 

From the bitter fighting between Mobutu’s troops, the Tutsis needing allies formed what came to be known as the Alliance of Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Congo. A heretofore-unknown soldier headed this force by the name of Laurent Kabila, who many moons before had been a fellow traveler friend of Lumumba. “In 1964, aged 23, Kabila took part in a failed Marxist-inspired rebellion, the Stanleyville uprising - one of many in Zaire (Congo) in its first years of independence - and fled into the hills when Mobutu’s forces crushed it. Kabila formed the People’s Revolutionary Party, encapsulating his own Marxist views and Pan-African vision, while on the shores of Lake Tanganyika.” ([6]

However, he had learned much over time from the capitalistic system by watching the hated Mobutu operate. As a sidelight, “Che” Guevara heard about this young Communist wanabee and thought Africa would be a great place to penetrate. He flew over and had a number of meetings with Kabila. He was not impressed, gave up any thoughts of proselytizing in Africa and had this to say about Kabila. “A mere tourist.” 

However, it turns out that Kabila had been fighting a guerilla battle against Mobutu for over thirty years in that same area and had studied his every move. Obviously by this time, he knew the territory like the palm of his hand, and with the additional forces that were now at his disposal, Mobutu’s troops turned out to be no match for him. Kabila’s troops overran the country and the people were overjoyed. However, many of Kabila’s early edicts made them even more comfortable. He soon announced the elimination of bribery and intimidation, but never quite got around to doing anything about it. The people of eastern Congo slept well for the first time in many years but they were unaware of the miseries yet to come.  

By this time Mobutu had been in office for 32-years. The people in the rest of Congo came to the same conclusion that had been reached in the east. Thirty-two years was enough. The revolution that had toppled Mobutu’s troops in the east in late 1996, soon traveled to the rest of the country supported by the countries of Angola, Uganda and Rwanda. The ultimate red-letter day of this rebellion was May 17, 1997 when the capital of the country, Kinshasa was captured. Mobutu knowing that his reign had come to an ignoble end, escaped just ahead of the invaders and died slightly thereafter of natural causes. The Congo Government under Mobutu was the last client state that was under American domination in African and nobody raised any tears in Washington as the Iron Curtain had come down when the Cold War Act had ended. The previously invaluable Mobutu was now designated as non-event by the United States and they stopped answering his calls. 

 

Under Mobutu, Congo set special standards that some experts indicate can never be eclipsed in world history.  Per capita income when he was driven from office was only 10% of what it was when he entered it. The country’s roads had literally ceased being usable and poverty had become so pervasive that it was immeasurable. If Mobutu had accomplished anything, he brought Congo back from the 20th century and into the glorious Stone Age. His opponents were routinely tortured and executed for raising even the meekest voice against his perverse system of injustice.   

Things continued going downhill as Mobutu played musical chairs with his ministers while blaming the outgoing officials for whatever current ills the government was suffering. However, during his term of office he had accomplished a great deal. He had taken on various undercover projects for the CIA, printed paper money with reckless abandon creating triple digit inflation, and massacred a number of dissenting students at the University of Lubumbashi. 

In addition, Mobutu was stealing such a high percentage of the country’s gross domestic product that his actions had sent one of the richest countries on earth from a natural resource point of view, spiraling into an economic abyss from which it could not recover. The World Bank, the IMF and a number of country’s including the United States who had up to that point gone along with his thefts somehow had a vision and now perceived saw these actions as the last straw. There was a man by the name of Laurent Kabila that they thought could do the job a lot better and at least give his people a fair shake. They were wrong. Were they wrong!     

Non-event or not, it was not until 1996 that the United States finally took a position regarding Congo in which they began to publicly support a change. When the rebellion first broke out, America, although convinced that Mobutu should go, came up with a rather timid plan of action. The CIA’s silly scenario literally had Mobutu leaving the country with an interim government taking  over the reigns in Congo until a democratic election could be held. During this period of time the United States even used the good offices of Nelson Mandela to try to talk sense into Mobutu and have him accept his exile. However, this strategy was to be no more successful than any of the other meekly engineered arrangements that were floated during this same period.   

Nevertheless, nothing that the United States worked out was good enough bait for Mobutu to swallow and it was only when the people rose up against the Government in power and he saw them marching down Kinshasa’s main street with blood in their eyes, did Mobutu finally get the message. He finally pulled up stakes as opposing forces closed in and the country’s capital was spared additional grief for the first time in decades. The nation’s capital fell with little loss of life. However, when the new government was finally put together it was hardly representative of the varying interests within the country and some Congo watchers started to become very nervous.  

Getting It Wrong

 However, what occurred following the fall of the Mobutu government was an excellent lesson in bad business practice.  A new government had just taken over Congo, and with it should have rung in all of the right words and phrases. “A government for the people with no more corruption to be built together.“ Has any new leadership not espoused these ideals? Suddenly, the incumbents noticed that the country has been stripped of its financial resources by the previous regime, and it had no infrastructure because the money for those projects was diverted into the pockets of the fallen leaders. Everyone had an idea of what to do to recover the funds: 

“With Mobutu gone, these governments and investors must now face up to the possibility that an incoming government will challenge the legality of the debts their predecessor incurred. By all the ordinary laws of contract, many of these debts should be declared void and irrecoverable as against the people of Congo. They are clearly poisoned by the illegalities that these governments and other foreign partners were tacitly facilitating, and by any standards they were party to the thefts, as they could not have taken place without external complicity,”  (3) 

Baby, You Can Now Run, But You Can’t Hide 

If you had to look for something constructive achieved by Mobutu during his reign you would be hard pressed to find any redeeming features at all. Indirectly though, a surprising benefit has emerged, the creation of the first permanent international criminal court. Under the aegis of the United Nations, criminal and constitutional lawyers from all corners of the globe converged upon the UN for a two week meeting that hammered out the substance of the new world court would operate. Intense lobbying by the United States put women's rights at the head of the crimes addressed. 

Other issues that are sure to be heard by the new court will be those of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity in general. Interestingly enough though, after all its lobbying on what should be done, the United States did not want this court to get in the way of any agenda it may have and voted to severely restrict the courts jurisdiction. Fundamentally, the United States saw themselves acting as the world’s policeman more often in the future and they were concerned about their servicemen becoming legally compromised by the new world court.  

Naturally, Britain, China France and shared with the United States, their desire for veto power over the definition of international crimes.  They demanded that the United Nations Security Council have sole power to refer cases to the court. Eventually this was worked out by allowing the Security Council to defer the reference of a case but not to define the Court’s jurisdictional boundaries. An example of the infighting that went into the sloth like progress on moving along the court’s agenda, David Scheffer, who is the U. S. Ambassador-at-large for war crimes indicated that out of the potpourri of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes, America  would only allow the court automatic jurisdiction in the cases of genocide. Although the court is certainly a step in the right direction, some of the guardians of this flame are a little too close to the fire to have everything go without a hitch and the unusual alliance of the United States, Russia, France and China do not seem to want to trade in sovereign rights for what they may believe is a bowl of porridge. 

But when all of the smoke had finally cleared, the Court was approved by an enormous majority. All of the nations worked mightily to overcome the objections of the United States who didn’t want its soldiers charged with war crimes for acting as the world’s policeman. When the final vote was taken, the United States along with stalwarts of human rights, Libya, Algeria, China, Qatar and Yemen voted against the court. The global cop finally found out how high the price is for setting the world’s moral standards and now faces the potential sacrifice its own citizens at the hands of those who do not necessarily share the Washington’s charitable inclinations. By this time it no longer mattered however as Mobutu, the object of everyone’s attentions that brought this austere group together, had died of natural causes. 

Mobutu’s Cost To The United States 

In Mobutu, the United States had the best friend money could buy and for the most part he performed like a trained pet seal. However, with the money rolling in, Mobutu hade learned about the good life and was no longer concerned with the rights of others. Had not the United States anointed him king of the universe? He had used his position to improve his own living standard dramatically and the  more he was able to steal, the more riches he seemed to desire. 

The United States had indeed created its own Frankenstein Monster right in the middle of Africa. Many Congo companies had their assets seized by this crazed maniac and guess who footed the bill? The World Bank and the IMF made international investors in Congo whole, to the tune of 100 cents on the dollar. Guess who the biggest donor to both of those organizations is? Right again! In effect, the United States paid a heavy price indeed for Mobutu’s trained seal act, but most importantly, the country probably will never be the same again. The scars will last for generations. 

Let’s see if we can total up the entire scorecard. Mobutu received under the table payments from the Central Intelligence Agency and other clandestine American agencies of just a tad under $200 million. This money did not pass go, it went directly into Mobutu’s pocket, or should we say, his offshore bank account. In addition, Congo received almost $1.5 billion in infrastructure developmental aid during the approximately thirty-year period ending in 1991. 

Considering the fact that literally no substantive additions were made to Congo’s infrastructure during that period, it is not much of a stretch to assume that Mobutu was able to pocket a good portion of it as well; either by getting direct kickbacks from contractors or by merely taking it. Reliable estimates have indicated that approximately 55% of that sum ultimately landed in Mobutu’s bank accounts or his real estate developments overseas. So in total, Mobutu was able to pocket almost a billion dollars for doing America’s bidding during the Cold War. 

However, American munificent assistance did not end there, his country received another $250 million in military aid, of which much of the equipment portion was resold to the highest bidder with Mobutu feathering his nest once again. Probably the only time Mobutu didn’t directly profit from the American largesse was when the United States was forced to ferry foreign troops in Congo in order to prevent Mobutu from becoming diner when various of the local tribes rebelled over his harsh leadership. Many have said that it never dawned on the gluttonous leader of the Congo to charge ferry fees to everyone. Had it dawned upon him, he would not have been shy.  In addition, the United States was directly responsible for Mobutu receiving $14 billion from a combination of the World Bank and the IMF in spite of the fact that unpublished documents reveal that everyone involved in the fund’s guarantee and transfer were unquestionably aware that Mobutu would steal the money, or a least a substantial share of it. What wasn’t stolen outright was used to convert private debt into public debt, allowing Mobutu to get kickbacks from those that were repaid.  

By using this method to back into the probable amount of theft by Mobutu from his government’s coffers in exchange for American assistance, we come to the pleasant round number of $8 billion, which does not include Mobutu’s other enterprises. Missing from that figure is the amount of money, Mobutu took directly from the nation’s treasury. It does not include the vast amounts of money that he took in either in form of precious gems or money in exchange for the granting of well-situated mineral concessions. Nor does the figure include the numerous business shakedowns conducted by his government in exchange of merely operating in that country. For both foreigners and citizens alike, there was a price for everything in this now godforsaken place and if the assessed amounts were not paid punctually to Mobutu, the foreigner would be sent out of town on a rail, but the local would more often than not, disappear entirely.  

Mobutu’s Value To The United States 

What did the United States get in exchange for most enormous bribes ever paid in history? The answer is simple enough, anything they wanted. Guess which country’s representative was the Chairman of the United Nations Security Council immediately preceding the Gulf War?  Guess what Mobuto had him do for the United States?  Mobutu, literally turned himself into a pretzel in order to sell the American position against Iraq during operation Desert Storm. He buttonholed, he cajoled and he proselytized. When the United States backed UNITA rebels needed sanctuary from their own fighting, America once again asked Mobutu for assistance and once again, he bent over backwards in order to accommodate the rebels in spite of taking substantial heat for his efforts from many world leaders. However, Mobutu didn’t mind taking heat, he was in it for the money no matter what the cost. 

However, the relative of Mobutu was substantial, at least in American espionage circles. Nevertheless, as the mad dictator of Congo became ever more corrupt, the United States had to begin weighing the public relations downside of supporting this apparent maniac. Here we were in the United States stressing transparency in government, equal opportunities for citizens to use schools, hospitals, education and the like and a solid democratic, freely elected political system. That was what was coming out of one side our mouths, however it was what came out the other that really mattered. 

That was the side that said, this guy makes Cambodia’s, Pol Pot look like an angel. At least Pot did not enrich himself in office and firmly believed firmly in his position. In the case of Mobutu, no one seems to question that if the Russians had offered him more money, he would have jumped at the chance. Luckily for us that they didn’t have the wherewithal to write the check. At the end, he had gone bonkers over his greed.  

Massive negative public opinion about this man started circulating around the world. This tended to make even the most callous of American legislators extremely nervous and word was sent to Mobutu that he better get his act together fast or that the rug was going to be pulled out from under him. It dawned on the dictator that he may have to leave town in a hurry and with great fanfare he announced an enormous privatization program. 

He took literally every medium to large business in Congo owned by the Government and offered it up for bids. His next move was obviously to sell the properties to the highest bidder of those that would kickback to him the most. Usually they didn’t have to bid a lot because it may have led to their execution. Having sold most of the country for a farthing, he pocketed the cash and got ready to leave town in a hurry. When word got out that he had sold what was left of Congo to his partners in crime for a penny on the dollar, the Untied States Government determined that he had served his purpose and with the Cold War over, he was no longer of any importance. Most essential, he was becoming an anchor on America’s public relations campaign for good government throughout the globe.  

Not only did the United States cut their ties with the Congolese Government led by Mobutu, but also they had all of their friends do the same. Diplomatic relations with Congo became frigid, foreign aid eventually dried up to only a trickle and delegations from the United States as well as other countries had meetings with the Congolese Government about ceding power. When there was no visible response from Mobutu, the United States ratcheted the handle up one more notch. They arranged with both France and Belgium, the two other powerhouses in the region to cut Congo off as well. However, this failed along with other ploys which were attempted during this time. When none of them had any effect; in 1993, the Clinton administration banned Mobutu and any of his associates from visiting the United States. Not that he had any desire to come here, but it read well in the papers and made some politicians look good.  

However, the United States was not interested in pulling Mobutu’s chain completely because if he ever publicized all of the dirty tricks that he was involved in for the CIA and all of the money that he had stolen from international agencies, we would have looked like idiots. Thus, we have come believe that the United States was only blowing wind when they threatened Mobutu and he knew it. He had us in checkmate and we knew it but apparently we had his permission to blast him for the benefit of our voters.. America could have easily tied up Mobutu’s offshore accounts, but what would Mobutu do in return. He still had numerous untold stories about what America had asked him to do for them when the chips were down and we just didn’t want to let that genie out of the bottle. For a while, it became a standoff. 

 



[1]  Carole J.L. Collins

[2]  Africa/ Change In The Congo, Desperate Lives The war in Congo has hit the already sick economy hard, driving people deeper into poverty and illness, Simon Robinson, Time International, 4-23-2001

[3]  Looting in Congo - clearly exposed in report to UN, Africa Analysis, World Reporter, 5-1-2001

[4]  Ore Fuels West’s High-Tech-Gear by Arnaud Azjtman, Associated Press, 4-9-2001.

[5]  Little-known mineral fuels many-sided war. Minerals, including an ore highly valuable to high-tech industries, have paid for fighting in Congo. Karl Vick, Star-Tribune Newspaper of the Twin Cities, Minneapolis and St. Paul, 3-24-01

[6] Laurent Kabila: Democrat or Dictator? The Namibian.

 


2005 Chapman, Spira & Carson, LLC
111 Broadway. New York, NY. 10006 Tel: 212.425.6100 - Fax: 212.425.6229

Terms of Use  |  Privacy Policy  |  Email