Mobutu Sese Seko

Mobutu Sese Seko Kuku Ngbendu Wa Za Banga[lower-alpha 1] (/məˈbt ˈsɛs ˈsɛk/; born Joseph-Désiré Mobutu; 14 October 1930 – 7 September 1997) was a Congolese politician and military officer who was the President of the Democratic Republic of the Congo from 1965 to 1971, and later Zaire from 1971 to 1997. He also served as Chairman of the Organisation of African Unity from 1967 to 1968. During the Congo Crisis, Mobutu, serving as Chief of Staff of the Army and supported by Belgium and the United States, deposed the democratically elected government of Nationalist Patrice Lumumba in 1960. Mobutu installed a government that arranged for Lumumba's execution in 1961, and continued to lead the country's armed forces until he took power directly in a second coup in 1965.


Mobutu Sese Seko
Mobutu in 1983
President of Zaire
In office
24 November 1965  16 May 1997
Preceded byJoseph Kasa-Vubu
Succeeded byLaurent-Désiré Kabila
Personal details
Born
Joseph-Désiré Mobutu

(1930-10-14)14 October 1930
Lisala, Belgian Congo (now Mongala Province
Died7 September 1997(1997-09-07) (aged 66)
Rabat, Morocco
NationalityCongolese
Political partyPopular Movement of the Revolution
Spouse(s)
(m. 1955; died 1977)

(m. 19801997)
Children21 (including Kongulu and Nzanga)
Military service
Branch/service
Years of service1949–1997
RankField Marshal (Army)
Admiral (Navy)
Commander in Chief (Military)
Battles/wars

To consolidate his power, he established the Popular Movement of the Revolution as the sole legal political party in 1967, changed the Congo's name to Zaire in 1971, and his own name to Mobutu Sese Seko in 1972. Mobutu claimed that his political ideology was "neither left nor right, nor even centre"[1] but in practice he developed a regime that was intensely autocratic even by African standards of his time. He attempted to purge the country of all colonial cultural influence through his program of "national authenticity".[2][3] Mobutu was the object of a pervasive cult of personality.[4] During his rule, he amassed a large personal fortune through economic exploitation and corruption, leading some to call his rule a "kleptocracy".[5][6] He presided over a period of widespread human rights violations. Under his rule, the nation also suffered from uncontrolled inflation, a large debt, and massive currency devaluations.

Mobutu received strong support (military, diplomatic and economic) from the United States, France and Belgium, who believed he was a strong opponent of communism in Francophone Africa. He also built close ties with the governments of Apartheid South Africa, Israel and the Greek military junta. From 1972 onwards, he was also supported by Mao Zedong of China, mainly due to his anti-Soviet stance, but also as part of Mao's attempts to create a bloc of Afro-Asian nations led by him. The massive Chinese economic aid that flowed into Zaire gave Mobutu more flexibility in his dealings with Western governments, allowed him to identify as an "anti-capitalist revolutionary", and enabled him to avoid going to the International Monetary Fund for assistance.[7]

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 of between US$4 billion and $15 billion during his rule. He was known for extravagances such as shopping trips to Paris via the supersonic and expensive Concorde.[8]