Friday, September 9, 2022, here is a date to remember. The Congolese of the interior as much as those of the diaspora lived, this day, a real event. This is the very first interview given to a media – in this case Top Congo – by Mama Bobi Ladawa, the widow of Marshal Mobutu Sese Seko. The man led Congo-Zaire for 25 years (1965-1990) as an autocratic leader before putting a little water in his wine for seven years (1990-1997) by leading the country as a “semi-democratic leader”. . This was during the first seven years of “democratic transition”. A tough man, Mobutu did not lack empathy.
In total, the “Great Leopard” – who was only a human being with his qualities and faults – marked the history of this great country in the center of the African continent. And this for 32 years. The “PF” (Founding President), as he was affectionately called, left achievements that speak for him. It would be tedious to list them.
Like other autocratic leaders surrounded by zealots, “Papa Sese” did not fail to make mistakes. Its biggest mistake was and remains the so-called “Zairianization” nationalization measures that took place in 1973. Destructured, the national economy did not experience any improvement.
Beyond the humanist discourse, Westerners are ready to turn a blind eye to human rights violations. Woe to anyone who dares touch the economy. The case of the People’s Republic of China is obvious. The Chinese reformed the economy leaving the communist system as it was. Everyone finds their account.
In 1985, Vladimir Gorbachev, the new master of the USSR launched Perestroika (restructuring) and Glasnost (opening or transparency). At the end of 1989, we witnessed the fall of the Berlin Wall, heralding the end of the Cold War. The communist regimes of the “Soviet Bloc” crumbled one after the other. A boon for the West to demand “reforms” from African potentates, who have become the “orphans of the Cold War”, says Jean Nguz to Karl I Bond, who has become a political opponent.
In Zaire, general elections were scheduled for December 1991. Cost: $200 million or $10 per voter, of which there were 20 million. At the time, the Zairian state budget barely reached 350 million dollars. The rulers of the time expected, as usual, exceptional help from the “traditional partners”. Hear: Westerners. Westerners who no longer wanted to support authoritarian regimes that once served as a bulwark for the expansion of communism.
The hand that gives being always above the one that receives, the Westerners – the “American and Belgian Friends” in mind – have set a prerequisite. Namely that the Marshal was not to stand for re-election. American emissaries – including James Baker, then US Secretary of State – were dispatched to Kinshasa for this purpose.
Ambassador Bill Richardson, close to Bill Clinton, will be the last bearer of this message formulated more or less as follows: “Mr. President, the Western world in general and the United States in particular are grateful to you for the services rendered . We have no intention of humiliating you. We ask you to make a solemn announcement that you will not be a candidate in the next presidential election. And that after the election of your successor, you will take care of your health”. Mobutu did not hesitate to answer with a “No! resounding. The sequel is known.
Since the “revelation” of the so-called “massacre of students at the University of Lubumbashi” in mid-May 1990, Zaire, renowned for its diplomacy of dependency, had become bloodless. The country needed “intensive care”: cooperation is suspended in cascade. No need to talk about the social and what remains of the economy. Same for the army and diplomacy. The fruit is ripe, as President Mobutu said to the United Nations that “in the face of the hurricane of History, a ripe or unripe fruit still falls”. A premonitory sentence.
The hurricane in question was called the Alliance of Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Congo (AFDL). A discovery of the Museveni-Kagame duo, financed by certain Anglo-Saxon business circles. The duo is coached by American barbouzes. All that was missing was a “Zairian surety”. At the suggestion of the Ugandan president, the role was given to an anti-Mobutist opponent who was thought to be in retirement. Name: Laurent-Desire Kabila. After the mysterious death of the latter, the duo, like a magician, pulled a new minion out of his hat. This is “Commander Hippolyte”, alias “Joseph Kabila”. The man was also called Kanambe and Mtwale. Hello fraud!
During his eighteen years in power, this impostor gave the impression of being “on a mission”. A mission that consists of keeping Congo-Zaire on its knees both militarily and economically. The man has also tried to maintain permanent instability in the east of the country. And this to prevent the former Zaire from representing a threat to the national security of its neighbors, including Uganda and Rwanda.
During these eighteen years (2001-2019), “Kabila” who had no psychological ties with this country – which he discovered at the age of 25 – tried, without success, to “erase” the Mobutu’s name in official speeches. He sometimes quoted his predecessors while “forgetting” this brave son of the country.
On Friday, September 9, Top Congo radio gave Mama Bobi Ladawa the opportunity to tell her part of the truth. Her share of truth on the last moments of the regime of her late husband whose name remains and will remain engraved in the marble of the History of Congo-Zaire.
Despised as his procession approached Ndjili airport on May 16, 1997, Marshal Mobutu well deserves an act of rehabilitation. The time has come to reconcile the Congolese men and women with their history.
Baudouin Amba Wetshi