Mobutu Sese Seko Kuku Ngbendu Wa Za Banga, born Joseph-Désiré Mobutu in the DR Congo; 14 October 1930 – 7 September 1997) is a Congolese politician.
Also a military officer and the President of the Democratic Republic of the Congo from 1965 to 1971, and Zaire from 1971 to 1997. He served as Chairman of the Organization of African Unity from 1967 to 1968.
In the Congo Crisis, Mobutu, as Chief of Staff of the Army and with support from Belgium and the United States, deposed the democratically elected government.
Headed by left-wing nationalist, Patrice Lumumba in 1960. Mobutu installed a government, executing Lumumba in 1961.
The executor government lead the country’s armed forces until he took power directly in a second coup in 1965.
To consolidate his power, he established the Popular Movement of the Revolution as the sole legal political party in 1967.
Change of Congo’s name to Zaire
He also changed the Congo’s name to Zaire in 1971, and his own name to Mobutu Sese Seko in 1972.
Mobutu claimed his political ideology is “neither left nor right, nor even centre”. Though nevertheless he developed a regime intensely autocratic, even by African standards of his time.
He made attempts to purge the country of all colonial cultural influence through his program of “national authenticity”.
Cult of a personality
Mobutu is the object of a pervasive cult of personality. In his rule, he amassed a large personal fortune through economic exploitation and corruption.
This led some to call his rule a “kleptocracy”. He presided over a period of widespread human rights violations.
Under his rule, the nation experienced uncontrolled inflation, a large debt, and massive currency devaluations.
The US, France and Beligium
Mobutu received strong support (military, diplomatic and economic). This came from the United States, France, and Belgium.
Who believed he is a strong opponent of communism in Francophone Africa. He did build close ties with the governments of apartheid South Africa, Israel and the Greek military junta.
From 1972 onward, he secured support from Mao Zedong of China, mainly due to his anti-Soviet stance.
Afro Asians Nations
The dictatorial Congo was favored by the Chinese leader as part of Mao’s attempts to create a bloc of Afro-Asian nations led by him.
The massive Chinese economic aid that flowing into Zaire gave Mobutu more flexibility in his dealings with Western governments.
It allowed him to identify as an “anti-capitalist revolutionary”, and enabled him to avoid going to the International Monetary Fund for assistance.
By 1990, economic deterioration and unrest led Mobutu to agree to share power with opposition leaders.
But he used the army to thwart change until May 1997, when rebel forces led by Laurent-Désiré Kabila overran the country. And forced him into exile.
Already suffering from advanced prostate cancer, he died three months later in Morocco. Mobutu was notorious for corruption, nepotism, and the embezzlement.
Amounts Involved in Corruption
Mobutu embezzled between US$4 billion and $15 billion during his rule and known for extravagances such as shopping trips to Paris via the supersonic and expensive Concorde.