581. Dispatch From the Station in the Congo to the Central Intelligence Agency1


  • [Identity 1]/[Mobutu]—Meeting (21 November 1968)

For: [name not declassified].

1. [Mobutu] granted [Identity 1] an interview on 21 November, 1968 which lasted approximately two hours and which was held at the Presidency on Mount Stanley. [Identity 2] and [COS] also attended. After some introductory remarks by [Identity 1], [Mobutu] did nearly all the talking. Incidentally, it is extremely unusual for [Mobutu] to grant such a long interview to anyone, even to a “personalite de marque.” [Mobutu] was extremely frank, although some of the remarks which he expressed were, in several instances, biaised or erroneous (i.e. he described the World Bank as by-and-large US dominated and controlled. He also exaggerated the evils of the Union Minière du Haut Katanga (UMHK) describing its 300 Belgian executives as the worst type of neo-colonialists who perpetually connive against the GRDC and its leadership).

2. After a brief exchange of social amenities, [Identity 1] expressed his appreciation for the interview. He made it clear that the primary purpose of his visit to Africa, including Congo (Kinshasa), was to brief himself on the prevailing political scene. It was not his purpose to negotiate or provide any kind of support for projects or programs. [Identity 1] mentioned that he would be called upon, shortly after his return to [U.S.] to brief certain key members of the new incoming administration on matters having to do with Africa.

3. At this juncture, [Mobutu] began his lengthy expose of Congolese political developments from Independence. The following covers the highlights of his remarks:

A. [Mobutu] expressed his appreciation of past American interest in and support for the Congo dating back to the Kennedy Administration. He emphasized that the US Government had contributed materially and significantly to the achievement and maintenance of Congolese independence. [Mobutu] went on to explain that he and his associates had been faced by powerful opponents both from the right and the left. He mentioned that threats to security still existed primarily [Page 850] from external elements supported by subversive African and Communist States. He expressed the hope that the US would continue to take a major interest in the Congo adding that what was primarily needed from the US at this time was sympathy, understanding and economic rather than military support. He intimated that he wanted to avoid being too dependent on the Belgians.

B. [Mobutu] said that relations with some of the previous [U.S.] Ambassadors had not been ideal. He specifically mentioned [Mc-Bride’s] predecessor who had on several occasions insisted (i.e. exige) that [Mobutu] undertake certain initiatives in keeping with [USG] desires, rather than those in Congo’s best interest. He stated that as a sovereign state the GDRC could not and would not take dictation from anyone, including [USG] and that this should be clearly understood by one and all.

C. [Mobutu] then addressed his remarks to the Belgians. He stated that the rightist Belgian threat (i.e. mercenaries) has been overcome and hopefully for good. He stressed, however, that GDRC was still constantly being threatened with domination by Belgian economic interests. He decried the actual situation in the Congo whereby Belgian subsidiaries of US firms exercise a rigid monopoly over US imports into the Congo. [Mobutu] made it very clear that he wanted US firms to deal directly with GDRC or Congolese businessmen and not to be obligated as is presently the case to deal with Belgian intermediaries. In this way, the Belgians make all the profits.

D. The next topic taken up was the Societe Generale and [Mobutu] devoted nearly ¾ of an hour to this topic but mentioned nothing new ([Mobutu] usually covers this topic with all important visitors and regularly discusses it with [McBride] and other [U.S.] officials). [Mobutu] insisted that the Union Minière du Haut Katanga (UMHK) had always been a Congolese company, but that the Belgians had changed it into a Belgian one just prior to Congolese Independence. [Mobutu] referred to the UMHK being represented by “300 Messieurs” who were highly unscrupulous. [Mobutu] reported time and again that [USG] could not from a moral, or any other standpoint, support “300 Messieurs” against the GDRC and the whole Congolese nation. [Mobutu] insisted that Belgian bankers and businessmen, acting on behalf of the Societe Generale, were besmirching the good name and competence of the GDRC and the Congolese people in the US, and particularly with the World Bank. In [Mobutu’s] view, the Belgians are most afraid of economic competition, particularly American.

E. Turning his attention to the World Bank, [Mobutu] flatly stated that it was to all intents and purposes an American creation and instrument, since the US provided 60% of the capital (erroneous—actually 25%).

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F. [Mobutu] made it clear that he would continue to do business with the Belgians but that the activities of the Societe Generale would have to be curtailed. He stated that the Societe Generale had confidence in his regime and the future of the Congo, as indicated by its financing the construction of a large commercial business complex in the center of downtown Kinshasa.

G. [Mobutu] finally turned to [cryptonym not declassified]-related matters. He stated that he was extensively involved in expensive political action activities. He clearly intimated that some of these activities also served [U.S.] policy interests. [Mobutu] stated that he has given large sums of money to certain Congo (Brazzaville) leaders (Army and civilians), to Bokassa and Tombalbaye to strengthen UEAC, to Zambian President Kaunda for forthcoming elections, Burundi for paracommando training of Micombero’s elite batallion and for GDRC propaganda against communist threats.

H. [Mobutu] bemoaned the fact that [cryptonym not declassified] in the past had given massive financial assistance to [Identity 3] who, without army support, would never become a real leader worthy of the name.

I. [Mobutu] expressed his appreciation for the current cooperation between [cryptonym not declassified] and his services and asked [Identity 1] that this liaison be continued and enlarged. Specifically [Mobutu] asked [Identity 1] to arrange for the early training of [cryptonym not declassified] and five others by [cryptonym not declassified]. [COS] interjected that [cryptonym not declassified] training has already been laid on, but that no commitment had been made about training the other five.

J. [Identity 1] mentioned that he was leaving on 23 November for a visit to the interior of the Congo. [Mobutu] replied that [Identity 1] should remain on in Kinshasa over the weekend for his regime’s 3rd Anniversary celebrations. [Identity 1] gracefully declined on the grounds that his tight onward schedule regrettably would not permit a stayover.

4. The meeting was highly successful and contributed effectively to the continued close rapport between Station and [Mobutu].

  1. Source: Central Intelligence Agency Files, [text not declassified], Vol. V, Mobutu. Secret; Rybat.