prospects for the congo
Joseph Mobutu is currentlyreaterof political stability and internal security lo Congothat troubled country has known since independence. Butof government is still fragile. There are persistentand frustrations, and no great enthusiasm for MobutuThe opposition to the regime is, however, diffuse andWe think Mobutuetter than even chanceoffice over the next couple of years, and perhapsdeparture, if sudden, would probably result inharp decline in internal security.
main base of support is the Congolese Nationalwhichirtual monopoly of coercive power but isand disciplined and often is ashreat to, as asecurity. Any significant improvement in the ANC is likely toand could take many years.
obstaclesestoration of the economy tolevels of activity are great. If tolerable Internal securitymaintained, monetary stability preserved, and foreign aid atrates obtained, tho Congo will probably be able tosome time at about the presentonsiderablein the economy wouldubstantial additional inputfinancing, much of it for the infrastructure.
has recentlyendency to involve himselfinternal affairs of his neighbors.eriod ofrelations are improving, and Mobutu willlimited economic and technical benefits from the detente.will remain the predominant foreign presence in theit is unlikely to be as deeply involved in internal affairs as
in the past. Mobutu will continue to look to the US for Important military and economic assistance and unless US aid is cut off, he will regard the US as his main foreign backer.
I. THE POLITICAL ORDER
Considering tbe Congo's chaotic historyresident Joseph Mobutu in bis three yean in office has had some modestajorhas been the mere nirvrva) of his regime, which owes something to the exhaustion of tbe Congolese populace after the prolonged civil strife and to the continued disarray of rival politicalood deal to Mobutupolitical skills.
Mobutu's regirne, like many others in Africa, Is characterizedeavy concentration of authority In the hands of the President Remnants of earlier regimes, iricwding national and provincial assemblies, have been swept away in favor ofhighly personal style of rule virtually devoid of an imtitutiocal framework. Mobutu shares power with no one, but he does consult with his oldroup of seasoned and durable politicians known as the Blnza Croup- This clique forms tbe core of his cabinet and servesew other key administrative posts. None of his civilian associates areosition to challenge him, and all are kept off balance by cabinet changes and administra-tive reshuffles.
has invested considerable time, money, and effort inreat nationalby displaying the trapping* ofa yacht, prestige projects) and, more importantly, by being ruthlessHe has shown some response to advice from the InternationalFund (IMF) and the US designed to introduce greater financialHe has also made efforts to grapple with basic internalkeeps in touch with the grauroots by holding Informal palavers withclergy, students, labor, businessmen, the army, and others who airand recommend reforms. He bas alsoationaland has included In it some regional politicians who had beenfrom active politics since his takeover. This party is. however,an instrument of tho regime, andeans of dispensinga cheering section.
he capabilities of the central administration in Kinshasa have probably improved slowly under Mobutu Control of the provinces is probably stronger than under previous regimes. Mobutu selects provincialfairly competent group on thethem vice-regal powers, shifts them about, and makesractice to send them to areas where they are not native. Buthas not necessarily improved provincial government, for the governors
quently lick the expeitue. the staffs, and the resources to deal with theof local situations Moreover, the governors often do not know the
local languages and are regarded as foreigners by the local populace.though less flagrant than in earlier regimes, is widespread and has aeffect in tbe provinces as in the capital.
Mobutu's pruicipal base of support is the Congolese National Armyn orgiini/atlon that is feared and generally hated. Some of the ANC*rubs off on the President lieirm tribal base and is unable to arouse much enthusiasm for himself or his policies. Urban wage-earners, suffering from inflation, grumble at their lot and some resent Mobutu's lavish personal outlays. Many university students are opposed to him, criticize his policies as pro-Western and too moderate, resent his reliance on advisers whom they consider out of tune with the needs of tin- Congo, and fear that their ambitious for positions of influence will be thwarted. He, in turn, has used the army to put down student demonstrations. The young intellectual elite at one time welcomed Mobutuationalist innovator, and some have lost tho important posts they held in the early days of his regime, and have become disillusioned and estranged. In addition, some of the Congo's most important tribes,akongo, Bahiba, and BaJunda, feel excluded from what they regard as their rightful share of jobs and benefits.
There is,onsiderable difference between the kind of chronic discontent which is prevalent among most Congolese, and active dissldence. Tolerance for corruption, mabidministration, and economic failure is high.dissatisfied urban masses at well as most of the people in the interior arc unlikely to revolt so long as they believe that the ANC would move against them. Thus far. popular discontent and frustration, though persistent, ksand is mainly confined to unarmed civilian dements without allies in the army. Generally speaking the survival of Mobutu's regime is likely to depend largely on the action or Inaction of the ANC at critical moments.
The ANCirtual monopoly of coercive power to the Congo, but itoorly trained and disciplined force and is militarily unreliable. Throughout much of tbe country, it is ashreat to securityreserver of order. Soldiers often set up roadblocks to "tax" travelers, and there are frequentIn which they beat and rob the populace. Many of the officers hoe their pockets by organizing rackets. Nevertheless, the ANC generally keeps the provincesough kind of control.
No major security problems currently confront the ANC. There are some pockets of rebels Ln the eastern Congo and in the fomvts of Bandundu Province, but these groups act more like bandits than insurgents and tend to avoid contact with the ANC. There is no evidence of any significant resurgence of politically-inspired dissldence which could touchew revolt against the government The rebel leaders have mostly fled the country and have little contact with their
former followers In lhe bush. While some of them are in countries east of the Congo and may have some Cuban or Chinese support, they are at odds with each other and appear to pose little threat of renewed insurgency.
question of the loyalty of the ANC to tbe regime and itsorders from headquarters or field commanders are key considerations inthe political stability of the Congo, Officers and men are paidMobutu is responsive to their grievances. Under these circumstancesis reasonably loyaL Though Mobutu came to power5 throughcoup, he has carefully excluded the army from participation inThe top positions in the ANC are largely filled with long-timeMobutu, who are for the most part Incompetent, corrupt, and lazy, butmore loyal than tbe younger officers. Tbe latter, particularlyabroad, are far more capable and many are thoroughly disgustedunder Ignorant and corrupt conunandcrs, bat they are not aand there is little evidence of plotting against Mobutu.
Mobutu probably wishes to reform the ANC but be recognizes that any major shakeup might arouse enough discontent among the older group of officers to threaten tho stability of the government. He is therefore more likely to tackle the army problem piecemeal through limited and step-by-stepand realignments ratherlean sweep. Tho foreign training pro-grains will bring some Improvement of the capabilities of some units, but it would be unrealistic to expect any significant progress in the discipune.or responsiveness of the ANC In the neat several yean.
The national police alsoecurity role, primarily in the cities. There are several foreign training programs under way. including one supported by the US, and the police force Is init better disciplined than the ANC. It also has better relations with the populace. In times of emergency (as during the mercenary revoltt is subject to the authority of the ANC.
The fact remains that theoth the main bulwark of the regime and tbe greatest potential threat to it Indeed, the most likely challenge to Mobutu would come from within the ANC orombination of military and civilian dissidents. So long as be holds the allegiance of the bulk of the ANC, particularly the "elite" First Paracommandos in the capital, he is not Likely to be overthrown except by assassination. Buto assurance that even the elito troops would stand their ground if confronting an armed andopposition.ifficult to estimate political stability in the Congo with any confidence because in the part the shirt from apathy to violence has been abrupt, and major uprisings have stemmed from trivial or unforeseenBut there la currently no Indication that Mobutu Is heading for serious trouble. On balance, we think heetter than even chance of retaining office over the next couple of years, and perhaps longer.
f Mobutu were removed from the scene in the near future, it woulddestroy the relative stability and order now prevalent. Any successor, military or civilian, would have to have the bucking of the ANC or most elements
of ft limply to bold office. Moreover, because of the highly personal autocratic type of rule employed by Mobutu, the whole structure of government would be shaken. His successor would prohably have to start from scratch, either toew hierarchy based on personal loyalties, or to begin to construct some mstitutions of government. In either case there would probably beconfusion and instability.
iii. the economy
The overriding economic problem of tbe Congo hat been to halt theslide which began just before independence The natural resources of the country are enormous, but so are the obstacles to their exploitation. Post-mdependence governments have proved unable to muster the administrative skills needed toomplicated and extensive economy. Rebellion, civil disorder, and neglect base hampered production, particularly on tbe plantations, and have alsoeavy toll of the transport system. Bridges were destroyed, equipment rusted, channels silted, and roads overgrown; reconstruction and repairs have been slow. This Is an important factorountry where the principal mines and the most potentially productive plantations Lieiles from the seaports through which much of their output must move. Finally, in the yean immediately prececding the devaluation ofbe currency was grossly overvalued; this dampened the incentive to produce, not only for export but for the domestic market as well.
In consequence, current agricultural production is less than half the pre-independence level, with cotton, rice, and com from small farms suffering the most. As for minerals, the output of gold and tin suffered substantial losses. Diamond production was less affected,hud of the output was smuggled out of tbe country, thus depriving the government ofew marketing structure for diamonds has served to cut down this smuggling, and the prospects for both the mineral and the agricultural sectors have been improved by7 monetary reform.
Probably the brightest spot in the economic picture is the continued high output of copper, line, and cobalt from Katanga. Exports of these minerals have been maintained at about preindepcndcncc levels; indeed, copper exports7 exceeded thosend are rising. Katangan minerals now account for some SO percent in value of all Congolese exports, and the revenues derived from minerals provide half of government income. Yet revenues have been affected by the drop in copper prices which have fallenigh ofound InS to aboutents. Prices are unlikely to rise much in the nest few years, and may drop further.
A complicating factor In the effort to arrest tho economic decline is the national fmandal situation. Yean of deficit spending after independencecommerce and hastened Inflation. Tho country has been kept going only by the infusion of overillion in economic and military assistance, 60
percent of it from the US much of it through theait year the IMFweeping monetary reform. By-and-largc the reform hai worked, partly because high world copper pricesindfall in revenues.Mobutu has takeo steps to strengthen the Finance Mmistry. But the recent downturn in copper prices and the uncertain outlook for efforts to control governmental expenditures, including Mobutu's propensity for lavish personal and prestige spending, are likely to raise again the spectre of budgetary deficits and perhaps another round of financial instability.
Over the years the US has delivered far more economic and military assistance to tlie Congo than to any other sub-Saharan African country. In the last few years the levels of aid have fallen off, amounting in fiscal8 to4 million in military assistanceillion in economichisillion inommodities. The balance financed Imports of trucks, spare parti, and mdustri.il supplies. Continued US aid at about this level, together with Belgian and other foreign financial and technical assistance, would probably maintain economic activity at something like the current pace, provided there Is no serious decline in Internal security, no major deterioration of the monetary situation, and no substantial decrease in the number of expatriate specialists.
A program designed to regain tbeevel of ooonornic activity would require massive financing over five years or so. It has been estimated that at5 million would be needed to restore tbe internal transport system alone. An additional turn of a:5ould be rajiafcedpflHftll "iter and power, restore conununications, and provide other public services. Some outside aid, though far short of the magnitude required forrogram, could be expected from Belgium, the EEC, the IBRD, and other sources, but they as well us the Congolese would look to tbe USajor contribution. Tbe success ofrogram would depend heavily on the preservation of internal security and political stability, and on the related matter of finding the necessary technical and managerial personnel. Foreign eaperts willing to work in the bush are bard to find, and the Congolese now being trained forjobs wiD not be available In sufficient numbersecade or more. If these requirements could be largely met, foreign private investors might come forward with the funds to exploit the great natural resources of the country. Tho economy could then even exceed prcindepeodence levels of activity.
iv. FOREIGN relations
10 redlMe was economictbe USfor about cot half.
"Tha compare* with US economic and military aid of SSO mubon fn flicallltno tolHioo2 million9 miOiOTi4 mlllWo
has entered into African diplomatic affairsather erraticenthusiastic fashion. He clearly relishes attencLance at OAUwhere he mingles with other African chiefs in prestigious surround-
ings. Though he has little interest in more distant parts ol Africa, such as Nigeria, he seems to boaste for becoming involvedhe affairs of his neighbors. He has come to believe that the Congo,ajor African state, has an important role to play In central Africa.ime be lavished attention on the Union des Etats de TAfrique Centralen embryo customs union joining Congo (Kinshasa) with Chad and Centra] Africanthough more recently he seems to Gnd Congo (Brazzaville) politics more interesting. We do not know at this stage whether Mobutu's involvement In the activities of neighboring statesassing fancyew phase of foreign policy. We are inclined to believe it is the latter.
Congolese relations with Portugal, though normally bad. tend to fluctuate between inactivity and the trading of threats. For tome years various Congolese governments have afforded training facilities and safe haven to Hoi den Roberto's Angolan liberation movement, but Mobutu, like roost Congolese. Ls not deeply committed toeration cause. He is aware, moreover, that the Portuguese have the means and occasionally the will to retaliate against the Congo. He bas not forgotten the brief foray of mercenaries from Angola into Katanga last year, and has been concerned about bands of Lunda tribesmen from Katanga now in Angola, which be believed were armed and held in readiness by the Portuguese. Byand-large, neither Mobutu nor the Portuguese arc keen on worsening relations with each other. The Congo dependso Bengitela railroad through Angola for the export of Katangan copper, and Angola benefits from the revenues.
The Soviet diplomatic mission in Kinshasa, which recently opened for the third time, has been very careful In Its relations with Mobutu. Neither trusts tbe other. It Is doubtful that the Soviets really expect to develop close relations with Mobutu's regime. They are likely to offer some aid, and Mobutu will find the Soviet presence useful In his efforts to gamer more aid from the West. If be fafls to get particularly desired items such as military aircraft from the West be might turn to the USSR.
elations with the Belgians are particularly important for the Congo. After several years of acrimony, Mobutu is now doing what he can to increase Belgian aid and investment He seems to have learned that no other country or group of countries can replace Belgium, and that the prolonged absence of key Belgian technicians has damaged the Congolese economy and public services. He is therefore willing to risk some domestic displeasure including charges of neocolonlallst collaboration in order to regain the services of Belgian specialists and lure Belgian capital back to the Congo.
he outlook for the next year or two isautiously forthcomingto Mobutu's overtures. Brussels wants good relations and will continue to provide ut least technical assistance but will not quickly forget Mobutu's anti-Belgian campaigns of recent years. Belgian aid has consisted principally of payments on prcindependence Congolese1 millionnd the furnlshtng of technical5 million. The number of Belgian
technicians dropped sharply7 but Is now beginning to increase, Belgian private investors will react cautiously to begin with and look (or quick returns. Investors will, however, wish expatriate personnel to manage investments and the degree of security and stability throughout the country will be an important factor in deternuning tho availability of such personnel. If relations continue to improve and the Congo maintains reasonable stability, there will probably be some new tovestment, although mainly for the expansion of existingrather than the establishment of new ones.
With the disappearance of tbe mercenaries and the liquidation of the issues revolving about the role of Union Mtniere du iia.it Katangawo of the principal sources of friction between the two countries subsided. Belgium has, however,onsiderable extent disentangled itself from tbe Coogo and is unlikely to be as deeply involved In internal Congolese affairs as In the past. Nevertheless, Belgium will remain as the major foreign presence in the Congo.
Mobutu's attitude toward the former metropolc could change suddenly as It has in Ihe past. It Is always possible, therefore, that for fairly obscure reasons or simply to divert popular discontent from himself, he might launch another hate campaign that would endanger the lives of0 Belgians In the Congo. In these circumstances other Europeans and US dozens would also be in danger.
The USigh degree of prestige and influence in Kinshasa, based in part on the massive aid provided over the years andong workingof US officials with Mobutu. The ANC relies on the US for transport equipment and for some technical training and the Congolese economy would be in worse shape than ft is without US assistance. Mobutu believes that his policies in the Congo and in Africa correspond with those of the US and be is occasionally miffed when the US fails to provide funds for his pet projects. Mobutu would hke the US to provide him with some jet aircraft andew transport planes to move ANC units more rapidly to remote trouble spots. In any future crisis, as in the past, he would almost certainly turn first to the US for military assistance. Unless US aid ceases altogetlier, Mobutu will continue to regard the US as his most important foreign backer.Original document.