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.
- 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
- Zaire is the country that has been the most heavily exploited in the world. That is why farms, ranches, plantations, concessions, commerce, and real estate agencies will be turned over to sons of the country.
- November 30, 1973, on the eve of "Zairianization". Zaire: A Country Study, "Zairianization, Radicalization, and Retrocession"
- 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
- I am the latest victim of the cold war, no longer needed by the US. The lesson is that my support for American policy counts for nothing.
- It takes two to corrupt – the corrupted and the corrupter.
Quotes about Mobutu Sésé SekoEdit
- 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.
- CIA World Factbook, "Congo, Democratic Republic of the" (17 October 2018), Langley, Virginia: Central Intelligence Agency
- 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
- His private palace, seven miles outside town in Kawele, brimmed with paintings, sculptures, stained glass, ersatz Louis XIV furniture, marble from Carrara in Italy and two swimming pools surrounded by loudspeakers playing his beloved Gregorian chants or classical music. It hosted countless gaudy nights with Taittinger champagne, salmon and other food served on moving conveyer belts by Congolese and European chefs.
- President Mobutu was a positive dictator, not a negative one. He knew what methods to use to preserve unity, security and peace for his people. You could feel at home anywhere in the Congo under Mobutu’s regime. There is no freedom without security. He understood what the people needed at the time.
- With Mobutu we had a state, but he was a dictator. Today we don’t have a state – it’s a jungle.
- 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.
- What we’ve been hearing from the panelists is how the global food system works right now... It’s based on large multinational companies, private profits, and very low international transfers to help poor people (sometimes no transfers at all). It’s based on the extreme irresponsibility of powerful countries with regard to the environment. And it’s based on a radical denial of the economic rights of poor people... We’ve just heard from the Minister of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Many point a finger of blame at the DRC and other poor countries for their poverty. Yet we don’t seem to remember, or want to remember, that starting around 1870, King Leopold of Belgium created a slave colony in the Congo that lasted for around 40 years; and then the government of Belgium ran the colony for another 50 years. In 1961, after independence of the DRC, the CIA then assassinated the DRC’s first popular leader, Patrice Lumumba, and installed a US-backed dictator, Mobutu Sese Seko, for roughly the next 30 years. And in recent years, Glencore and other multinational companies suck out the DRC’s cobalt without paying a level of royalties and taxes. We simply don’t reflect on the real history of the DRC and other poor countries struggling to escape from poverty. Instead, we point fingers at these countries and say, “What’s wrong with you? Why don’t you govern yourselves properly?”
- Jeffrey Sachs', Speech at the UN Food Systems Pre-summit, Share International magazine, Speech transcript (October 2021)
- 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
- We have had a part in the fact that the Belgians have always let Mobutu do its thing in their own interest.
- Congo en plein public, Page 56. Vranckx, 2010.
- Speech by Mobutu, vowing to resist the rebel onslaught and remain in power
- Anatomy of an Autocracy: Mobutu's 32-Year Reign (The New York Times biography by Howard W. French)
- Mobutu's legacy: Show over substance
- Hope and retribution in Zaire, Allan Little, From Our Own Correspondent, BBC News, 24 May 1997.
- [http://www.heritage.org/research/reports/1989/06/zaires-mobutu-visits-america "Zaire's Mobutu Visits America," by Michael Johns, Heritage Foundation