Failed States - the case of Zaire into the
Beginning in 1956, newly-created Congolese political associations expressed very cautious and moderated nationalist views. Over time, these organisations were gradually radicalised; initially leading, in 1959 and 1960, to demands for immediate and complete independence.
rather sudden activity for independence and the gradually rising violence of
competition between the several political factions caught the Belgians
'off-guard' and rapidly precipitated them into granting independence.
The rather sudden activity for independence and the gradually rising violence of competition between the several political factions caught the Belgians 'off-guard' and rapidly precipitated them into granting independence.
Rise of Mobutu
Force Publique which combined Belgian officers with enlisted personnel from what the colonial administrators considered "martial" ethnic groups like the Ngala and Tetels. This began a pattern of antagonistic relations between the security forces and the Zairian public with the army more a repressor of the citizens than their protector
Led by Moise
UN forces step in to
promote reintegration of
There were further
rebellions such as in Kwilu which ironically Tshombe, now PM, was in charge of resisting. He also used
By the latter part of 1965, the government was almost totally paralyzed.
On November 25, the army commander Joseph-Desire
Mobutu removed both Kasavubu and Evariste
Kimba, who had been nominated to
replace Tshombe, and assumed power. The
Mobutu proclaimed himself President of Congo, formally planting the seeds of the totalitarian regime.
He justified his military action in the name of national order and security in a country wounded and divided by a civil war between regional factions. Mobutu promised to lead the country for five years, suspended the national constitution, and dismissed the democratically elected national assembly.
Depending on his military inner circle, he gradually eliminated the political elite, banned all political parties, abolished the right to strike, and eliminated any political character of the nation’s provinces, which became only administrative entities under the president’s authority. In short, Mobutu created a nation state.
To this end, he created the so-called Corps de Volontaires de la Republique [Republic’s Volunteer Corps], which he transformed a year later into his Mouvement Populaire de la Revolution (M.P.R.) [Popular Movement for the Revolution]. This organization quickly became the strongest pillar of Mobutu’s political system.
Ikambana sees it
thus: In 1967, the 26-year-old President proclaimed the birth of the
Economic decline in early Mobutu years
The national bank, state-led institutions, and the national treasury department were placed under the exclusive control of political injunctions. The national treasury department was at the service of the national party, which used the national bank as the source of its revenues.
Individuals in charge of the bank and the treasury were political appointees who had no control over the revenues
1960, its economic picture was promising.
and electrical materials.
The country’s food supply
was self-sufficient, and many products were being exported (e.g., coffee,
rubber, palm oil, cotton, and the like), contributing 40% of the state budget.
The water and road transportation systems, inherited from the colonial era,
were the largest in
on the mineral industry, modern agriculture, and an excellent transportation system, the country’s economy appeared prosperous.
The national economy coped with the politically destabilising successionist movements due to healthy agricultural and mineral sectors and the intervention of the European industrial sector.
Even after the Mobutu coup in 1965 (
Slowly mismanagement over the long term, resulted in deterioration in industry, increase in debt, and the deterioration of the national economy.
The policy of nationalization, or Zairianization of national enterprises, dictated by the Mobutu regime in 1973, as well as the radicalization of the same policy in December 1974, further deepened the crisis of the young economy. These two policies—Zairianization, which allowed the regime to take over any enterprise run by a non-national, and radicalization, which allowed the regime to take control over all units of production and distribution—had more negative impact than expected.
Trapped by significant debt, a negative underground economy, an imbalance between
currency production and national wealth production and, finally, a complete deterioration of national wealth production.
Some good ..of a sort: Mobutu as nation-builder.
Mobutu attempted to invent a national identity by blending elements of local traditions with components of the emerging ideology of Pan-Africanism.
Initially this was manifested in a rather straight-forward nationalism, but by the 1970s had evolved into a more radical program called "authenticity."
Symbolic remnants of Belgian rule were expunged. Every street, location,
individual, and the country itself was renamed.
By the late 1970s, "authenticity" had mutated into "Mobutuism," which attempted to create a cult of personality glorifying the acts and sayings of the president
But the nation building efforts were at a price of installing elements tat were to lead to political corruption:
Weakness of governance systems courtesy of the legacy of Belgian policy meant Mobutu had to put in place administrators etc.
His solution was consolidation of power in his own hands by placing members of his
ethnic group in
many key positions, banning opposition political activity, and ruling by
decree. To create an institutional framework for this, Mobutu formed the
Popular Revolutionary Movement (
Bolsheviks and Chinese communists had in forging stable states out of
large, heterogenous nations, proclaimed it
subsidiaries of the
The state was seen as the personal fiefdom of the president:
Mobutu's concentrating political power by patronage and fear.
Opposition brought exclusion from opportunities for personal enrichment, often exile, and sometimes torture or death.
Mobutu accumulated and
disbursed one of the largest personal fortunes on earth, largely by controlling
the state's finances and contracts, particularly those dealing with the extraction
Mobutu played the role of puppet master, frequently shuffling officeholders and administrators to allow as many sycophants as possible their time at the money trough, and to make perfectly clear that the president could take power and wealth away as easily as he distributed them.
To further reinforce his support, Mobutu allocated offices and contracts to family members and ethnic kinsmen.
Eventually, there was no political opposition in the normal sense.
Surveillance, internal security forces, weakness of military
The internal security forces:
name changed several times from
the National Documentation Centre
(CND) to the National Documentation
SNIP communicated directly with Mobutu rather than reporting to any other government agency or official. The disciplinary arm of the official party--the "Corps of Activists for the Defense of the Revolution" (CADR) also played a role in internal security and the intimidation of opponents.
The Zairian military was designed more to safeguard the regime than to defend the national borders or counter insurgents.
Rather than protecting the Zairian people, the armed forces and security forces prey upon them and are perceived, justifiably, as instruments of repression.
But the military was
largely incapable of opposing any successionist
threats or incursions from outside such as that into
He also created a special French trained Civil Guard, and the Special Presidential Division which was drawn from Mobutu's own tribe - the Ngabandi.
Economic policies of the 70s saw nationalisations (a touch of the socialist faith)
that were chaotic..
and caused huge damage to investor confidence
Attempts at industrialisation
fared no better and left
Copper prices collapsed.
IMF/International intervention and Structural adjustment...failure:
"As debt mounted, creditors became important players in
Each was supposed to reduce corruption, rationalize and control government expenditures, limit imports, boost production, improve the transportation infrastructure, eliminate arrears on interest payments, ensure that principal payments were made, improve financial management, and facilitate economic planning.
Private creditors also rescheduled
By the end of the 80s credit was drying up and by 1991 the IMF refused any further loans.
Western Tolerance of Zaire/Mobutu
liberation struggles by Jonas Savimbi's UNITA forces
As such Mobutu could maintain US 'support' while he served US foreign policy interests.
Decline of Cold war and Soviet/Cuban support for
Bush administration cut off all aid to
Mobutu weakening started to call for a return to democracy - declard an end to one-party rule.
August 1992: Etienne Tshisekedi wa Mulumba--whom
Stopping reform once it is unleashed is difficult.
Mobutu used violence against the opposition But the opposition refused to submit.
Its three principal groups formed a coalition called the Sacred Union that became the vanguard of the anti-Mobutu forces.
The result was near-anarchy
1991 - unpaid troops went on the rampage. Quelled by the Civil Giard. but frightened Mobutu.
Gecamines, the state-owned mining company which had once been one of the world's largest, fell into such disrepair that its only output was scavenged scraps of copper, thus choking off
another potential source of income for the beleaguered government.
"The Central Bank had no reserves, most other banks were closed, and those that
remained open dealt only in cash. The tax system was defunct. Most state institutions, including hospitals and schools, closed. Unpaid civil servants, teachers, and health care workers quit in large numbers. Unemployment was pervasive; up to 80 percent of
Zairians lived in dire poverty, most subsisting on one meal a day. As the medical system eroded, AIDS, malaria, sleeping sickness, and other diseases reached epidemic proportions"
Ethnic conflict flared up.
200,000 Kasaians forced from their homes in
Continued struggles between Mobutu and Tshiekedi
for control of
Further violence from rampaging soldiers with no pay in 1993
Most foreign workers were leaving.
The Rwandan crisis in 1994 and Mobutu's attempts to intervene to help bring peace revived his fortunes for a while.
late 1996, the Sacred Union was clearly in disarray and the struggle for
democracy had lost momentum. Until the outbreak of the Kabila-led
revolt, Mobutu's declining health and the disintegration of his security
agencies were about the only imminent threats to political dictatorship in
Tshisekedi made a futile attempt to join forces with Kabila in a separate effort to salvage the political fortunes of the Sacred Union. This was a confused strategy by the Sacred Union in its futile effort to unseat Mobutu. In what amounted to a dramatic vote of no confidence against both Mobutu and the Sacred Union, the Congolese people overwhelmingly threw their support behind Kabila whose troops had captured over two-thirds of the country by mid-May 1997
Kabila's Alliance of Democratic Forces for the
Liberation of Congo-Zaire (
Afoaku comments: Following Kabila's takeover of power in May
1997, he began to display Mobutuist tendencies,
including misappropriation of public funds, human rights violations,
suppression of dissent within the AFDL, tribalization,
clientelization and nepotization
of state apparatuses.
some general aspects that seem to be in most definitions proposed in this field of research. Brinkerhoff characterizes state failure as, the lack of human security, public services, and a lack of a credible entity within the international theater.1 The lack of sustainability by the state seems to be an essential trait for what constitutes state failure.
Kraxberg determines that state failure is a vacuum of authority where what was once an establishment that brought forth these services collapses on itself.2 As a result the state loses its legitimacy and separates its identity from the people that live within its boundaries.
....the inability of the state to provide basic services to its people. These services include: health care, security in agriculture development, effective state institutions, human rights, education, and rule of law, among others. Through the loss of these basic rights the states legitimacy starts to erode and its governmental system will crumble. The identity of the state and its connection to its people begins to disappear.
Failed state as predatory a.k.a. 'vampire state
Fukuyama alludes to Mobutu’s rise
to power and his ability to reallocate a large portion of the state’s resources
for himself and leave the rest of the society in what is termed as a ‘predatory
state’. (Fukuyama, Francis. State –Building:
Governance and World Order in the 21st Century.
As with many African nations in this conflict, external catalyst provided potential
directing forces in state behaviour. One of the
major contributing external factors is the rivalry of the Cold War, as a result
allowed super powers to use developing states as their battlefields in the
spread of their brand of ideology. The
Other state's problems cross borders
Rwandan crisis in mid-90s - Refugees pour
As a result of the 1994 genocide in
Iheukwumere argues: (Colonial Rapacity paper)
In many instances, the departing colonial powers perpetuated their rape of the
continent through the imposition of constitutions which preserved the privileges of the immigrant European population at the expense of the native inhabitants. Not surprisingly, some of the new African leaders emulated the brutalism and savagery of the colonizers, and heaped misery, violence, and poverty upon their own. These unconscionable ‘leaders’
pitted ethnic groups against ethnic groups to preserve their political power, and lived in shameless luxury, while robbing their countries blind.
Corruption among African leaders and officials in turn is then, unfortunately and regrettably, aided and abetted by the banking and economic policies of the same colonial powers which initially heaped misery and savagery upon the continent, and helped ensure the despotism of some of the worst pretenders who branded themselves leaders.