90. Telegram From the Embassy in Zaire to the Department of State1

7651. Subject: Radio Announces Arrest of Foreign Minister Nguza.

1. Zairian radio announced at noon today the arrest of Foreign Minister Nguza, recalled from Europe yesterday, on charges of treason. Nguza is accused of having learned from Congolese National Liberation Front (FLNC) official Kibwe, during Mobutu’s January-February visit to Europe, of FLNC plans to invade Shaba in March, and of having concealed that information from the President. The radio also reports that Mobutu became aware of Nguza’s “treachery” during early July (i.e., before Nguza left for Washington), but chose to watch him closely before ordering his arrest.

2. In addition, radio announced arrest of Lunda Paramount Chief Mwant Yav, seized with documents in his possession indicating ties with FLNC leader Mbumba.

3. Comment: Nguza’s arrest comes as total surprise to foreign observers here and, apparently, to most Zairians as well. While in announcing Sambwa’s dismissal earlier this week Mobutu made clear other heads would soon roll,2 there was no indication that Nguza’s name was high on the list. We expect others will follow in what looks like major purge of all those suspected of having wavered in their fidelity to Mobutu when he appeared to be on the way out. Fact that Nguza had just returned from U.S. as President’s emissary may stimulate speculation that Nguza’s downfall is in some way related to U.S.-[Page 265]Zairian relations, and in fact could be interpreted as a slap in our direction. So far, however, there is no indication Mobutu intends to pursue this line. Further comment septel.3

Cutler
  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D770292–1174. Confidential; Niact Immediate. Sent for information Immediate to Brussels, Paris, and London.
  2. The Embassy reported the decree dismissing Sambwa, Governor of the Bank of Zaire, and Mobutu’s press interview explaining the dismissal in telegram 7576 from Kinshasa, August 11. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D770289–0700)
  3. The Embassy considered the impact on U.S.-Zairian relations of the arrests of Nguza and Sambwa in telegram 8589 from Kinshasa, September 8. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D770325–0553)