Congo: Imperialist intrigue and disinformation

(The following article was published in "The Guardian", newspaper
of the Communist Party of Australia in its issue of Wednesday,
June 4th, 1997)

By Rob Gowland

The liberation struggle that has brought down the 32-year
dictatorial regime of President Mobutu Seso Seko in Zaire has
been misrepresented and vilified in the Western bourgeois press
almost without let up.

The TV news coverage could not avoid showing the cheering throngs
that welcomed the "rebels" at every stage, but no opportunity was
missed to speculate about genocide, massacres of refugees or
wholesale looting. In fact, the real perpetrators of atrocities
and looting were the troops of the retreating Mobutu forces.

After a serious battle fought at Kenge, only 120 miles east of
Kinshasa, the French medical charity, Doctors Without Borders,
said an entire local church choir was killed by retreating
government troops.

Mobutu was installed as ruler with CIA backing in 1965, to
suppress the national democratic forces that had led the former
Belgian Congo to independence. His regime also served as a
reactionary brake on progressive governments and movements in
neighbouring countries.

As long as imperialism perceived the threat of socialist
revolution hanging over central and southern Africa, Mobutu's
extreme corruption was tolerated. France cultivated a
relationship with the dictator in an effort to oust US and
British imperial influence in the country.
When the international situation changed, however, Mobutu's
corrupt and bloody rule became a hindrance to the efficient
exploitation of the country's wealth.

Congo (Zaire) has enormous wealth in deposits of gold, diamonds,
copper, zinc and other minerals, the sale of which provides the
country's major source of foreign exchange. The mineral
industries have plummeted under Mobutu's misrule.

As popular discontent grew, and local rebellions simmered, US and
British imperialists tried to stay ahead of the play by covertly
aiding the rebels, hoping to replace French influence with their
own and to dominate or control whatever new government came to

It has even been reported that the US did the training and
equipping of the Alliance army, chiefly at bases in Uganda, whose
President, Yoweri Museveni, has been highly praised in the West,
for making Uganda fully compliant with IMF-World Bank demands.
Uganda has certainly played a major part in aiding Mobutu's
overthrow and it is probably not insignificant that in April
Uganda became the first African country to win IMF-World Bank
approval for debt relief.

Nevertheless, the continuing press attacks on Kabila ("Kabila
grabs full control ... acting like the dictator he deposed" --
"The Australian" 30.5.97) suggest that he is not following the
course imperialism hoped for.

US Marxist economist Victor Perlo noted in "People's Weekly
World": "The new government, having already established a state
mining company, Gecomines, has started contracting out operation
of mines to capitalists with technical equipment, skills and
markets. A US company, American Mineral Fields Inc, has been
awarded a contract of over $800 million for processing zinc

The Anglo-American Corporation of South Africa, which has virtual
monopoly for distribution of African minerals, has agreed to
supply $100 million of capital in exchange for a 20 percent
interest in this contract.

"That practice is in accord with anti-imperialist, progressive
governments in today's world -- dealing with capitalist
corporations in order to obtain funds and technology for
development while retaining control and majority ownership.

"This aspect conforms with the policy of establishing state
ownership of basic industries and transport. The Congo (Zaire)
has nationalized a key railroad that was owned by a private
company with South African, Belgian and Zairian interests."

Imperialist intrigue and disinformation campaigns would seem set
to continue to loom large in the immediate future of the
Democratic Republic of Congo and its new government.

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