Created: 6/23/1967

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Mobutu and the Congo

Special Report


7 SC




Although tho Congo ctill (aeon hard times, its future looks brighter ot present than at any tine slncn Opposition olomonls havo been effectively subdued, bringing to Lheegree of political stability. The centralis exercising reasonable control over disparate regional elements, and for the first tine since independence seems lo be directing or influencing events throughout the want Intorior. The predominant position of control once held by the Belgians has diminished somewhat. Relations with neighboring African staten havo improved and will probably continue to do so. The general oconcsic decline since independence has been largely arrested, at least temporarily. roat deal of the credit for this progress is due to Proaldont Joseph Mobutu, who, with careful and skillful exercise of power, plus en unusual amount of luck, has brought the Congo to its presentposition.

African Chlof

Mobutu's approach toderives froci tho African traditions of chieftainshipinterspersed with ideas from his favorito political theorist, Hachiavelli. Mobutu believes that the Congolese--whom he describes as but oneremoved fromtiong chiof who iuust be the unquestioned authority and tho solo source of powor. The Congolese, he soys, ero uccd to tutelage from their years under both tribal and Bolglan rule, and are raoro comfortablo when told exactly what is expected of them. Hobutu also believes that Western concepts of parliamentary

rulo, embodied in tho two post-independonco Congoleseore strange and, in the final analysis, unattroctivo to the Congoloso.

Mobutu hasood deal of success with his own ideas during his nineteen months: as president. Not particularlyat the time ofo has risen tremendously in public esteem. Hisapproach to cementing his position has drawn admiration from almost everyone, and most Congolese respect him for his power and for effectivelya degrca of order to the country.

fA-fi'lnn Kiinr**

Mobutu Consolidates Hi? Position

In tho first months aftor ho came to power inobutu sought to eliminate his opposition by either absorbing it or neutralising it. Fortunately for him, ono crucialofrcbollion which had broken out inon the decline when he come to power. He helped the process along by cultivating neighboring states which had been aiding the rebels and by offering an amnesty to rank-and-file rebels. From the beginning, however, thowasajor concern ond Mobutu could concentrate on other natters.

Immediately after hisMobutu announced an absolute ban on political activity in an effort to put on end to tho six years of intrigue that markod

Congolese politics. He enforced this order by effectivelythe army to discipline errant politicians, inerimhanging of four plotters in tho Kinshasa publicthose who had still not gotten his message. When, in the springobutu formed his ownpolitical party, the Popular Revolutionary Movement ost local politicos quickly jumped on tho bandwagon.

Mobutu's strategy included the removal of Moise Tshombd--currontly in exile inotential threat and theof Tshomtofi's support in his old stronghold of Katanga.oll-organlzed propa- janda campaign, Tshoiabe* became identified as the Belgian stooge who, as Congolese premier, sold oul tho country to foreignincorests ond asew Katangan secession. By the time of Tshombd'e7 trial in absentia for treason, many Congolese believed that he trulyraitor, and those who had lingering doubts wore smart enough to remain silent. Whon Godofroid Munongo, Tshombrf's former strong man, became too powerful in Katanga politics, ho was called to Kinshasa andilitary officer.

With Tshombe' gone and hisdispersed, Katanga fell in line--at least for the present--with other provinces in support of the central government.

Mobutu's Hew Congo

Having reduced hisMobutu found himself in a


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position to restructure tho Congo a3 he saw fit. ilitary man, Mobutu first tried using the arny as his base and establishing strong nilitary control. Hea Htato of emergency in troubled areas andilitary governor to contain politicalthoro. After briefon theso lines, however, he reverter to using civilian

Facedistory of petty provincial politics, Mobutua scheme to switch elected governors to other provinces, making the provincial head an

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agent of the central government. This maneuver curtailed local patronage and,imited delrlballxed provincial politics. The system worked so well that Mobutu apparently was convinced that tho civilian route-was tho way to go. Ho thenew constitution drafted in the cpring of7 whichall effective powei in the hands of the president and gave legal sanction to tho closocontrol Mobutu had alieady established ovor provincial The draft constitution was approvedeferendum early this month and is to go intoonuno.

Mobutu made severalcessful attempts to Mobilize tho masses behind his regime. Ismo- -diately after ho assumed power, heroll up the sleeves" campaign to got tho peopleup everything from filth in the streets to corruption in Many cagorly adopted the campaign--lo tho point that in some areas ono dared not be caught without his slcovosrolled up--Lut the program soon drifted.

Then Mobutu sought toa mass movement called tho Volunteer Corps of the Republic (CVR). Although performing some useful tasks initially, members of the CVR began associating with the radical youth group from Congo-Brazzaville ond tho CVR turnedand of roving vigilantes. Mobutu skillfully disbanded it by appointing its leaders to positions In the MPR,

his new political party and hie cost recent attempt to organise mass support.

Hobutu and tho Mi1itary

-It is significant that Mobutu is not using tho military as the basis for thostructure ho has developed for the Congo, Theis own strengththe auny; ho cultlvatos its officers and looks after its In--torests. Nevertheless, in workingew administration for the country he revertedivilian system after tho brief experiment with military govornors for tho provinces.

His effort to keep tho army in the background nay have been stimulated by severalMobutu, aware of the army's reputation with the populace, possibly wants to divorce himself from the military In theilitary satrap In tho provincos might be able lo build up an independent power feape was probably another factor.

Mobutu's own prejudices, how-ovor, may bo just as important. Of all the military leaders who have come to power in black Africa over the past few years, Mobutu alone isrofessionalalthough he didigh-ranking NCO during his six years of service with the colonial amy. From his pre independence experienceournalist and student he retains elementsonmilitary outlook.


Mobutu as an Administrator

The Congo has no dependable administration system except whoro the few thousand foroigners--mostlytho few trained ond relatively uncorruptedhavo been able to impose some order. Duplication andof efforts aro common. Despite the installation of an American computer to match wits with seasonedew improvements have been made.

of young intellectuals. Jnwith the spirit of Hachia-velli's advice, ho generally avoids becoming dependent on either set or lotting them know exactly what he is thinking.

Ministers Victor Nendaka and Justin Bomboko, who havo been close to Mobutu for years, are tho advisers in whom Mobutu has the greatest confidence.

Kobutu's Advisers

Mobutu has two principal sets ofandful of long-time associatesroup

Thoy, with Mobutu, have been deep in Congolesesinco independence and have acquired considerable experience in the ups and downs of Congoleso affairs.

Mobutu has also brought into his regime elements of young,

university-graduate intellectuals and has given then high-leveland coordinativc positions. Houal rationalo behind thitt he believes that this group will be ruling the Congo within the next generation and wants to be identified as their patronj also, he views them as potontial opposition to beby bringing them into his camp. He has respect for and onjoys being with this group, but has been careful toheck on them and not give them freo rein.

OY* Lyndon Uilni'n .Tohatno. Lib


With African Neighbors

Congolese relationsAfrican statesdisropsir In

Mobutu appeared roliiotxnt at first toch aliontion to-subject, Hocauso good relations with the states which feitnoily supported tho rebellion wore in his intorest, hovever, Mobutu found hir.sclf being pushed into the role of sr. inter-African statesman.

Wary in'.tlally, Mobutu has warned^orably to his new

xolo nnd haso

himself rore and roroajor Africaner. He relieves that the Congo, by virtuo of its size, its strategic position and it's potential wealth, should bo ono of tho greatest powers in Africa. This probably is tho basis for his eager ne-jo to mediate African problems. Ho has persistently offered to help tho Nigerians solve theiraternal atti-tudo toward casing tensionsRwanda ond Burundi, and tried lost year to promoteconferences in Kinshasa.

Mobutu has nade aeffoit to crvato forthe imagorue African nationalist. He has been willing to mouth African slogans ond, occasionally if reluctantly, to promoto tho cult of tho "martyred" Patrice Lumumba, the Congo's first premier. He agreed) to get rid of the South African laeruonarics jiaported byTshombd to quell tho rebellion. Mobutu is alsore-establishingrelationfi with tht- Soviet Union to underling his oonaligned position.

Tho most obviousof Kohutu's ambitions has been his attempt to move tho seat of the Organization of African Unity (OAU) from Addis Ababa to Kinshasa. Mobutu may havo naively ossuiaod that he need only Issue the invitation and iho OAU would come running; hoalso have gotten an exaggerated impression of African dissatisfaction with the OAU's Ethiopian hosts from radical OAU Secretary Generallo Tolli. At any rote, Mobutu has apparently learned the facto of African life- ho scorns content--for the time being ot least--with tho prospect uf hosting7 summitin Kinshasa's brand-new "OAU city."

Tho Congo's Economic;_Troblen> a

Much of Mobutu's economicrevolves around his efforts to achieve economic independence from Belgium. Mobutu is deeply con-cerned--indoed, nearly obsessed--with Bolglan domination of the Congolese economy, although hethe necessity of Keeping Belgian technicians and henco of conceding msny rights to tho lie distrusts the belglans and sincerely boliovos that thoy are out to choal and to stool from the Congo. Much of his tine and attention havo honn directed toward the Katanga mining firm. Union Hinioro du llaut Katangand Ihe conflict botween them

Page 6 Sl'fcCIAI. REPORT un 67

f'Ol'V Lyndon liiim* JoImj

reached dramatic proportione whon Mobutu seized the company'sassets in

Mobutu has demonstratedability to handle theof economics. His solutions to econonic problems oro rudi- . entary and often political in orientation. He has littleof the consequences ofaction on economic problems andollows through on his decisions. This past spring* for example, Mobutu sought aofarrangements between Sabena an= Air Congo and began negotiatiens, but has lostforT.;ent. Negotiations have since stalemated. In anotherpercent consumption tax was levied in6 on all petroleum products, but oil companies were forbidden to raise prices lo absorb the tax. that they would make no profit, the companies suspended operations for several weeks. Subsequently Mobutu agreed that they could stall their tax payment until the end Nothing more has been said and the taxes have not been paid. Numerous similar govornment actions vore deferred, but not rescindod, and their questionable status has created confusion and anxiety on the part of the foroign business community.

Mobutu, however, has begun to realize how little ho really knows and has begun to seek more expert advice. He has beenpurely economic problems with the competent Congolese head of tho National Bank andseeks tho advice of foroign businessmen.

Short-torm proapoctn f( if the Congolese economy ara not oopa-cially good. Kblie some mines and factories are producingairly high level, most ore hampered by supply and transport problems. For exonplc,.tho lossajor ^art of the foreign exchange andduring tho7 copper crisis is now causing shortages of food ond supply, plus high prices. The largo northeastern plantations are stillesult ofebellion and,esult,production is still far below preindepundonco levels. dining copper prices, among other things, suggest hard times ahead for the economy, oven without tho threat of erratic govornment


Although Mobutu has gotten tho Congo started in the rightenormous problems remain. The military, havingaste for politics and national leadership, may not quietly accept being pushed backtrictly military role. Whcthor thogolese Amy can achieve anysiveness or rollobillty for onperiod of time certainly remains subject to question. nything happens to Ho-butu--assassin*tlon ortho military may think it is timeecond coup.

Regionaloe tion, not

ably in Katanga, has mutely been


f.yti'tan IVilni'H .loltn.*n

suppressed, not oliroinated. most of the eastern part of the Congo still must bo Largo portions of tho population have literally gone back to the bush. Healthare deplorable; services, nonexistent. Despite lip service paid to tho noeds of those people, Kobutu has done littlu to getstarted.

Over the next few years,may make some economic Moi-utu's major contribu

tion has been to pacify theloaving tho land and trans

pollution routes relativelyin deterioratedpolitical stabilityCongol^so leaders andinterests can exorttoward improving thoeconomy. Under thetho International Monetary

Fund, Mobutu has agreed to major monetary reforms, includingof the Congo's currency.

All of the problemstraditionally plaguedstill- remain. Tribali?as been subdued, butof weariness ondantagonisms continue tobeneath the surface. for hundreds of trained,young Congoleseand craftsmen stillis only slowly beingfrictions with the Theof stability bringslo another threshold: it can continue to worksocial and economicit can take merely aits traditional. (SECRET)



Jun 6?

. lin,'. .Tohino

Original document.

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