Mobutu Sésé Seko

President of Zaïre, from 1965 to 1997

Mobutu Sésé Seko kuku ngbendu wa za Banga (or Mobutu Sese Seko Koko Ngbendu Wa Za Banga; October 14, 1930 – September 7, 1997) was the President of Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of the Congo) from 1965 to 1997.

If you want to steal, steal a little in a nice way. But if you steal too much to become rich overnight, you'll be caught.

Quotes edit

  • We are seeking our own authenticity, and we will find it because we wish, in the innermost fibers of our being to discover it.
    • Sean Kelly, America's Tyrant: The CIA and Mobutu of Zaire, p. 194
  • In a word, everything is for sale, anything can be bought in our country. And in this flow, he who holds the slightest cover of public authority uses it illegally to acquire money, goods, prestige or to avoid obligations. The right to be recognized by a public servant, to have one's children enrolled in school, to obtain medical care, etc. ...are all subject to this tax which, though invisible, is known and expected by all.
    • November 25, 1977. D.J. Gould, "Patrons and Clients: The Role of the Military in Zaire Politics," in Isaac Mowoe, ed., The Performance of Soldiers as Governors, p. 485
  • If you want to steal, steal a little in a nice way. But if you steal too much to become rich overnight, you'll be caught.
    • D.J. Gould, "Patrons and Clients: The Role of the Military in Zaire Politics," in Isaac Mowoe, ed., The Performance of Soldiers as Governors, p. 485
  • Democracy is not for Africa. There was only one African chief and here in Zaire we must make unity.
    • George B. N. Ayittey, Africa Betrayed, p. 65
  • We in Zaire spent a lot of time building a strong central state which could resist Soviet aggression quickly and effectively. This enabled us to decisively make the uniform decisions that were necessary to fulfill our national defense obligations and our commitments to the United States.
    • George B. N. Ayittey, Africa in Chaos, p. 113

Attributed edit

Quotes about Mobutu Sésé Seko edit

  • When Congo became independent in 1960, the same pattern of economic institutions, incentives, and performance reproduced itself. These Congolese extractive economic institutions were again supported by highly extractive political institutions. The situation was worsened because European colonialism created a polity, Congo, made up of many different precolonial states and societies that the national state, run from Kinshasa, had little control over. Though President Mobutu used the state to enrich himself and his cronies— for example, through the Zairianization program of 1973, which involved the mass expropriation of foreign economic interests—he presided over a noncentralized state with little authority over much of the country, and had to appeal to foreign assistance to stop the provinces of Katanga and Kasai from seceding in the 1960s. This lack of political centralization, almost to the point of total collapse of the state, is a feature that Congo shares with much of sub-Saharan Africa.
    • Daron Acemoglu and James A. Robinson, Why Nations Fail: The Origins of Power, Poverty, and Prosperity (2012)
  • Col. Joseph MOBUTU seized power and declared himself president in a November 1965 coup. He subsequently changed his name - to MOBUTU Sese Seko - as well as that of the country - to Zaire. MOBUTU retained his position for 32 years through several sham elections, as well as through brutal force. Ethnic strife and civil war, touched off by a massive inflow of refugees in 1994 from fighting in Rwanda and Burundi, led in May 1997 to the toppling of the MOBUTU regime by a rebellion backed by Rwanda and Uganda and fronted by Laurent KABILA.
  • Mobutu rose from poverty and obscurity to rule a vast country. Profiting from the Cold War, he remained in power for more than 30 years, draining the wealth of the Congo to maintain himself and his cronies. He gave a new meaning to kleptocracy but declined rapidly after he was no longer useful to his foreign backers. His activities converted an enormously rich country into a failed poverty-stricken state.
    • Clive Foss, The Tyrants: 2500 Years of Absolute Power and Corruption, London: Quercus Publishing, 2006, ISBN 1905204965, p. 172
  • Mobutu is a man, he is gone, but all these things should remain state property. The mistake of this country is they have destroyed and looted everything. They were doing that to rub out Mobutu’s memory, but the history should be preserved. The history might be positive or negative but it remains our history and we should pass it from one generation to another.
  • President Mobutu watched from his mansion, the marbled Versailles of the Jungle that he built in the sleepy village of his birth, eating lobster and sausages, washed back with a vintage wine.
  • Joseph Desire Mobutu, supported by Belgium and the CIA, seized power in what is now the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) in 1965. Mobutu was a Cold War darling of the Western powers and ultimately received more than $1.5 billion in U.S. military and economic aid. He was a colorful character who changed his name in 1972 to Mobutu Sese Seko Koko Ngbendu Wa Za Benga: "The all-powerful warrior who, because of his endurance and inflexible will to rule, will go from conquest to conquest, leaving fire in his wake." Mobutu was also a vicious murderer who stole the profits from the sale of his nation's resources. He lasted in power for thirty-two years until rebel Congolese forces, supported by armies from Rwanda, Uganda, and elsewhere, drove him into exile. Almost ten years after Mobutu's downfall, the DRC is a divided country where civilians are killed by various armies and militia on a regular basis.
    • David Wallechinsky, Tyrants: The World's 20 Worst Living Dictators (2006), p. 326

See also edit

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