23. Telegram 566 From the Embassy in Zaire to the Department of State 1 2

Dept please pass to President Ford. From Congressman.DIGGS


  • CODEL Diggs

Mr. President,

I am in attendance at the conference of African and American representatives in Kinshasa, Zaire, sponsored by the African-American Institute, but financed by the Ford and Carnegie Foundations. The American delegation consists of: Reps. Biester (R-PA), Anderson (R-Ill), Erlenborn (R-Ill), Burke (R-Fla), Conte (R-Mass), Young (D-GA), Collins (D-Ill), Whalen (R-Ohio), Schroeder (D-Colo), Preyer (D-N.Car), and myself.

This is the largest delegation of U.S. Congressmen ever to be in an African country at the same time.

The African delegation consists of representatives from 18 countries, including several Foreign Ministers. The conference was opened by President Mobutu who, after expressing sincere appreciation for the U.S. airlift in 1960 during the civil war and other U.S. support, pointedly criticized your appointment of Nathaniel Davis as Assistant Secretary of State for Africa.

His reference to the Assistant Secretary-designate’s alleged involvement in Chile during the Allende regime confirms the rapidly-growing dismay in African circles regarding this appointment. African supporters in the U.S., including the Congressional Black Caucus, associate themselves with this concern. My concurrence in this view is reinforced by the knowledge that Mr. Davis, will be eligible for retirement on or about the month of April. Coming behind the aborted tenure of Donald Easum, sopisticated speculation is that Africa continues to be of minimal priority for the U.S. and that AF bureau will become the dumping ground for retirees and other diffucult candidates to assign.

In any event, it is quite obvious that Dr. Davis’ effectiveness in dealing with African countries and their supporters would be seriously hampered by his past background in Chile. For someone to assume this position with these handicaps under normal circumstances, would be ill-advised. But, to insist upon such an appointment during this critical period of international economic interdepedence and the current political upheavals in Southern Africa is pure folly.

Respectfully urge that you withdraw Mr. Davis’ appointment.
Charles C. Diggs, Jr.
Chairman, House Foreign Affairs
Subcommittee on Africa

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Policy Files, 1975. Unclassified; Immediate. A summary of Mobutu’s speech to AAI is published as Document 267.
  2. The telegram transmitted a letter to President Ford from Congressman Charles C. Diggs (D-MI), who expressed his opposition to the nomination of Nathaniel Davis as Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs.