Mobuto Sese Seko PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 15 October 2008 08:49

Mobutu Sese Seko

Mobutu Sese Seko Nkuku Ngbendu wa Za Banga AKA: Mobuto Sese Seko

Born: October 14, 1930 Lisala, Belgian Congo (now the Democratic Republic of the Congo)

Died: September 7, 1997 Rabat, Morocco

Age: 66

Cause of death: Prostrate Cancer

Notable because: Leading Muntuist who set new standards in African Kleptocracy, leaving a legacy of violence and corruption that devastates the DRC to this day. 

 

Mobutu Sese Seko, born Joseph-Désiré Mobutu, was the President of Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of the Congo) for 32 years (1965–1997) after deposing Joseph Kasavubu. He formed a totalitarian regime in Zaire which attempted to purge the country of all colonial cultural influence and entered wars to challenge the rise of communism in other African countries. His mismanagement of his country's economy, and enriching himself off its financial and natural resources, makes his name synonymous with kleptocracy in Africa.

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 former Prime Minister 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 in May 1966, and sent to the gallows on May 30, before an audience of 50,000 spectators. The men were executed on charges of 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, Lumumba's Minister of Education and later a rebel leader during the 1964 Simba rebellion, was lured out of exile 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, buying off political rivals. He used the slogan "Keep your friends close, but your enemies closer still" to describe his tactic of co-opting political opponents through bribery. A favorite Mobutu tactic was to play "musical chairs," rotating members of his government, switching the cabinet roster constantly to ensure that no one would pose a threat to his rule. Another tactic was to arrest and sometimes torture dissident members of the government, only to later pardon them and reward them with high office. The most famous example of this treatment is Jean Nguza Karl-i-Bond, who was fired as foreign minister in 1977, sentenced to death, and tortured. Mobutu then commuted his sentence to life imprisonment, released him after a year, and later appointed him prime minister before fleeing the country in 1981 (although he returned to the fold in 1985, first as Zaire's ambassador to the U.S., and later as foreign minister).

In 1972 Mobutu tried unsuccessfully to have himself named president for life.

He initially 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. Katangan rebels based in Angola invaded Zaire in 1977 in retaliation for Mobutu's support for anti-MPLA rebels. France airlifted 1,500 Moroccan paratroopers into the country and repulsed the rebels, ending Shaba I. The rebels attacked Zaire again, in greater numbers, in the Shaba II invasion of 1978. The governments of Belgium and France deployed troops with logistical support from the United States and defeated the rebels again.

He was re-elected in single-candidate elections in 1977 and 1984. He worked hard on little but to increase his personal fortune, which in 1984 was estimated to amount to 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 nation's 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.

Marshal Mobutu was known to charter a Concorde from Air France for personal use, including shopping trips to Paris for him and his family. He had an airport constructed in his hometown of Gbadolite with a runway long enough to accommodate the Concorde's entended take off and landing requirements. In 1989, Mobutu chartered Concorde aircraft F-BTSD for a June 26-July 5 trip to give a speech at the United Nations in New York City, July 16 for French bicentential celebrations in Paris (where he was a guest of President François Mitterrand), on September 19 for a flight from Paris to Gbadolite, and another nonstop flight from Gbadolite to Marseille with the youth choir of Zaire.

Mobutu's rule earned a reputation as one of the world's foremost examples of kleptocracy and nepotism. Close relatives and fellow members of the Ngbandi tribe were awarded with high positions in the military and government, and he groomed his eldest son, Nyiwa, to one day succeed him as President; however, this was thwarted by Nyiwa's death (caused by AIDS) in 1994.

10 Makuta coin depicting Mobutu Sese Seko
10 Makuta coin depicting Mobutu Sese Seko

He was also the subject of a massive personality cult. 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 Combattant." At one point, in early 1975, the media was even forbidden from mentioning by name anyone but Mobutu; others were referred to only by the positions they held.

In 1983, Mobutu promoted himself to the rank of Field Marshal.

However, Mobutu was able to successfully capitalize on Cold War tensions and gain significant support from Western countries like the United States and international organizations such as the International Monetary Fund.

Mobutu was overthrown in the First Congo War by Laurent-Désiré Kabila, who was supported by the 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 President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda and Rwandan Minister of Defense Paul Kagame, 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.

On May 12, 1997, as Laurent-Désiré Kabila's ADFL rebels were advancing on Gbadolite, Mobutu had the remains of assassinated Rwandan president Juvénal Habyarimana flown by cargo plane from his mausoleum to Kinshasa where they waited on the tarmac of Kinshasa International Airport for three days. On May 16, the day before Mobutu fled Zaire (and the country was renamed the Democratic Republic of the Congo), Habyarimana's remains were burned under the supervision of Indian Hindu leader. 

Mobutu went into temporary exile in Togo but lived mostly in Morocco. Laurent-Désiré Kabila became the new president in the same day.

Mobutu died on September 7, 1997 in exile in Rabat, Morocco, from prostate cancer. He is buried in Rabat, in the Christian cemetery known as "Pax."

In December 2007, the National Assembly of the Democratic Republic of the Congo recommended returning his remains to the Congo and interring them in a mausoleum.

According to Transparency International, Mobutu embezzled over $5 billion USD from his country, ranking him as the third-most corrupt leader in world history and the most corrupt African leader ever.

He is a constantly recurring theme in Advance fee fraud (419) scams in emails sent to anybody worldwide. A 419er may claim to be Mobutu's wife, son, or daughter and promise a percentage 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 also was one of the men who was instrumental to bringing the famous Rumble in the Jungle fight between Muhammad Ali and George Foreman to Zaire on October 30th, 1974. According to the documentary When We Were Kings. Promoter Don King promised both fighters $5,000,000 USD for the fight, and no other group would put up that kind of money for the fight. Mobutu, wanting to expand the image of the nation of Zaire, put up the nations money to do so. According to a quote in the film, Ali supposedly said: "Some countries go to war to get their names out there, and wars cost a lot more than $10,000,000."

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 (d. September 24, 1998), and Manda (d. November 27, 2004). A son from his second marriage, François Joseph Nzanga Mobutu Ngbangawe, was a candidate in the 2006 presidential elections and currently serves in the government as Minister of State for Agriculture. 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 vivid detail.

Mobutu had seventeen children.

WIKI

 


CAD(1930-10-14)

Last Updated on Tuesday, 02 December 2008 15:50
 

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