The latest reports from Zaire, as we go to press, indicate that the Mobutu
regime is continuing to wage a counteroffensive against the rebels in the
Kivu area, with the support of white mercenaries.
According to the Jan. 27 issue of the Brussels daily Le Soir, most of the
mercenaries are from the former Yugoslavia, presumably recruited from the
reactionary Serbian and Croatian forces that got their baptism of blood in
the assault on the oppressed people of Bosnia.
However, the London Times reported Jan. 8 that the mercenaries included
British subjects. It said that the mercenaries were being led by Alain Le
Carro, former head of the personal guard of French president Mitterrand.
The Times estimated that 1000 French military men were involved.
Mobutu, suffering from terminal cancer, briefly resumed direct control of
the government in December, but was soon forced to return to Europe for
continuing treatment. He reshuffled his government, and there have been
attempts to restore discipline in the army by trials of deserters,
including officers. It remains to be seen if support from Mobutu?s
imperialist patrons can halt the disintegration of this pillar of
neocolonialism in the heart of Africa.
By ALAIN MATHIEU
A crisis is now underway in Zaire. It is the agony of the dictatorial
regime that the CIA and imperialism imposed on the country in the 1960s in
the wake of the murder of Patrice Lumumba, the leader of the fight for
This terroristic regime, an accomplice of Belgian and French
neocolonialism, has lasted for 30 years, killing thousands of
oppositionists. It supported Salazar?s fascist and colonial regime in
Portugal, which, along with apartheid South Africa, created and backed
Jonas Savimbi?s UNITA in Angola. It inspired and backed the regime that
organized the genocide in Rwanda.
Coming at the same time as the rebellion in Kivu, the illness of the
dictator, Mobutu Sese Seko, opened up a crisis for the regime. (He was
operated on for cancer in Switzerland, near his bank accounts, and went to
recover in France, near his protectors and friends).
No successor to Mobutu is in sight. The Zairean army has been in a process
of disintegration. Mobutu has remained the key to safeguarding French
interests. Paris prepared the way for his return, hoping, with the help of
mercenaries and the French military, to restore the prestige of his army by
a ?reconquest? of Kivu.
Last summer, when the former Rwandan government forces, backed by the
Zairean army, attacked the people in Kivu, the guerrilla forces came to the
aid of the resistance of the Banyamulenge people. [These people are called
?Tutsis? in the capitalist press after a traditional group in Rwanda and
Burundi; the Banyamulenge have lived in their present home in Zaire for
These armed organizations came out of the Lumumba movement. They have kept
on fighting for 30 years. They have managed to arm themselves without
outside help by selling gold from Kivu.
When the capitalist press portrays the guerrilla leader Kabila as a
?self-proclaimed chief? set up by the Rwandans, nothing could be further
from the truth. Kabila began his struggle in 1960, fighting in the name of
the central government headed by Lumumba against the Katanga secession
organized by Tshombe, and supported by France, among others.
In 1963, Kabila took the leadership of the Lumumbist forces. They were
defeated by the imperialist counteroffensive following Mobutu?s seizure
of power in 1965, which was aided by mercenaries.
The Alliance of Democratic Forces of the Congo, which was formed in Kivu,
includes four parties. Its stated goal is to overthrow Mobutu and replace
his regime with a democratic state organization. This is supposed to open
the way for social justice and development by breaking from the system of
corruption and neocolonialism.
The Alliance is distinguished from the official opposition (led by
Tshikedi) by its rejection of any compromise with Mobutu.
The Rwandan army gave it logistical aid and training so that it could break
the grip of the genocidal militias on the refugee camps. After it
accomplished this, it went on to pursue its own objective of overthrowing
the Zairean regime.
Hundreds of Zairean army men, including officers, began deserting to the
rebels, and the guerrillas started recruiting civilians as they advanced.
They have been helping the populations of the liberated territories to
organize themselves?thereby leading the people themselves to assume more
and more control of the struggle to overthrow Mobutu. The Alliance seeks to
combine liberation of the eastern territories with a resumption of mass
mobilizations in the cities.
France backs the dictatorship
The French leaders? determined support of Mobutu is explained by the
special ties that France has established with its former colonies in
Africa. France has based its role of a middle-sized capitalist power on its
possession of the atom bomb and its former empire in Africa.
The successive French presidents have had their ?African team? functioning
outside the purview of the government and the parliament, answerable only
to the president.
De Gaulle and his special advisor on African affairs, Jacques Foccart,
established the French presence and influence on the basis of a patronage
system involving inextricable ties between French and African leaders. This
system degenerated into extortion and Mafia-type criminality, which
infected the French politicians themselves.
The African bosses, like Mobutu, accumulated enormous fortunes?which they
used to bribe French businessmen and politicians. But then the world
economic crisis and the fall in raw materials prices reduced the size of
the cake, with manifold consequences.
In order to maintain their resources, the African strongmen resorted to all
sorts of traffic (drugs, arms, precious minerals). The transfer of the
resulting wealth abroad created a class of thieves, totally tied to French
interests and completely unconcerned about industrialization and
development of their own countries.
Mobutu lost any illusions about building a modern country or restoring an
already deeply undermined economic stability. His ambitions became limited
to amassing a personal fortune, which came to equal Zaire?s total foreign
In order to maintain themselves in power, the African neocolonialists had
no other recourse than to resort to manipulating clan and ethnic
differences. The ruling factions appropriated the state apparatus and
created ethnically-based forces. In Rwanda, this led to genocide and the
subsequent defeat and flight of the murderous government.
The genocide in Rwanda in 1992 exposed the degeneration of the French
system of domination. Mitterrand then tried to camouflage French complicity
by a so-called humanitarian mission, which in fact was a military
intervention. It was this operation that set up a genocidal
counterrevolutionary force across the Zairean border from Rwanda, which
controlled the refugee camps.
The defeat of this force in November and the return home of a million and
half Rwandan refugees, the crisis of the Mobutu regime, and the rebellion
of part of the army in the Republic of Central Africa?a pillar of the
French military establishment in Africa?are shaking the foundations of this
system of domination.
Washington makes a turn
France?s European partners and the United States did not march in step with
Paris. The policy of the United States in the region has been to promote
stable regimes, neocolonial domination regulated by the market, the IMF,
and the World Bank?instead of the dangerous and archaic French system with
its parasitic dictators. The United States sharply criticized French
However, at the start this year, Washington made a turn. It endorsed the
French military intervention in Central Africa. It has recognized that it
has no alternative to Mobutu. It has warned the rebels in Kivu not to go
In short, the United States seems to have given a blank check to France. Is
this because they think that no one else can maintain the ?order? so
necessary to business? They would like to get rid of Mobutu, but only if
this be accomplished in a nonrevolutionary way.
French imperialism failed to draw the UN into a ?military-humanitarian?
intervention. But it has not said its last word. It has too many interests
France?s ?networks? and its army, along with the remains of Mobutu?s army,
are mounting an assault to ?reconquer? Kivu. The French press has
confirmed that hundreds of mercenaries have been recruited by French
Tons of weapons have been delivered, among with military helicopters
piloted by white mercenaries. Fierce fighting has been underway for weeks.
The military relationship of forces may be favorable to Mobutu at the
moment, but his social base is weakening. The moderate opposition has
stayed out of the government and is calling for negotiations with Kabila.
We have to redouble our solidarity with the Zairean resistance and mobilize
against the French imperialist intervention that is being tacitly supported
by the United States. It is essential to prevent a repetition of what
happened in the 1960s, when imperialist intervention managed to kill the
hopes of all the peoples of the region for a better future.
In France, the Revolutionary Communist League, French section of the Fourth
International, is appealing to democratic and left forces to build a
movement to demand the withdrawal of French troops.