Congo: Imperialists fear the spirit of Patrice Lumumba
President Laurent-Desire Kabila was assassinated on Tuesday January 16 and his son Joseph was installed as President last week. DR KLAUS STEINIGER, editor of Rotfuchs (Red Fox)* gives the background to imperialism's interest in the country and the assassination of its President. Since August 2, 1998, the Democratic Republic of Congo, under President Laurent-Desire Kabila, has been the target of extensive imperialist aggression. Involved are neighbouring Rwanda and Uganda, who wage a proxy war on behalf of the United States, France and Belgium. To-date this has cost the lives of 1.7 million people — 200,000 through direct military action, and 1.5 million (in the wake of the total collapse of health services in the Eastern provinces) from epidemics and hunger. Since its initial colonial subjugation this strategically significant country in the heart of Africa, with its immense riches, has not managed to escape the clutches of imperialism. This became manifest 40 years ago, when, on June 30, 1960, the Belgian "possession" Congo gained its independence, and the first sovereign government of the republic was formed in Kinshasa, the former Leopoldsville. Its left-leaning premier, patriot and anti-imperialist, Patrice Lumumba, immediately became a thorn in the side of the former colonial rulers. He could not hold on to his position for longer than six months. Then, together with his closest collaborators, he was brutally assassinated by mercenaries in the service of the CIA. Others who courageously continued the resistance to Western proxy dictator Mobutu, met with a similar fate. Foremost among them was Pierre Mulele, the Education Minister under Lumumba. He formed a partisan army, but when he was captured by the enemy, he was cut to pieces — alive. Yet the resistance did not yield. In 1996/97 the troops of the resistance traversed Congo, and in nine months of fighting (with Kabila at their head) the American puppet Mobutu was overthrown and Laurent Kabila became President. Kabila said a year later: "We refused to accept masters and patrons. We decided to be ourselves. That was not the country's tradition. However, sovereignty was needed if it was to develop." Initially imperialists welcomed the end of the Mobutu dictatorship in the hope of quickly coming to terms with Kabila. The transnational American super-corporation Bechtel presented a "development plan" for the Congo. Its fundamentals were "respect for the international financial community" and "the exploitation of natural resources". At stake were no less than the world's largest raw material reserves, including gold and diamonds, as well as rare metals such as wolfram and nickel. The Kabila Government refused and submitted to the people its own development plan, pointing out that Congo could produce 20 times as much food as was needed to feed its present population — and that in a country where, today, the average person cannot get more than one daily meal. Such a plan, which presupposed large investments in agriculture, invoked the ire of the imperialist mining giants. By late 1997 the USA had worked out a secret plan for the removal of Kabila. The Rwandan army, which initially supported Kabila, was brought "on side". Suddenly Kabila was accused of having committed "genocide" against the Hutus of Rwanda in the country's eastern part. Assassination plans were prepared against the new President in Kinshasa and then a revolt was launched, firstly in the capital. Congo defended itself and has held out for the past two years. On April 9, 1999, the UN Security Council adopted a resolution whereby "forces which had not been invited into Congo" were asked to withdraw their troops forthwith. The US vetoed the resolution. Its goal was to remove the undesirable politician associated with the Congolese left, who stood against imperialism in the tradition of Lumumba and Mulele. Just as it happened 40 years ago when Lumumba was assassinated. Kabila is not a figurehead of those five American-British mega corporations which have controlled the mining regions since the reign of Mobutu and treat then as their private fiefs. Behind all this stands the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, both of whom extend special lending terms to Rwanda and Uganda. According to Ludo Martens, (Chairman of Belgium's Labour Party who is thoroughly familiar with Congolese problems), writing in the Brussels paper Solidaire: "Without the support of the United States, France, and Belgium two small countries which produce nothing more than tea, coffee, and bananas, would have never dared to attack a huge country of 55 million inhabitants and immeasurable extractive wealth".
* * *Thanks to Vera Butler for translation from the German original. Source: Rotfuchs, No 34, November 2000, Bulletin of Northeast Berlin Branch of the Communist Party of Germany.