Imperialism murders another great Congolese patriot
On 16 January 2001, Laurent Kabila, the great patriotic President of the Democratic Republic of Congo, was murdered. The instrument of his murder was one of his own bodyguards. The culprits were undoubtedly US and Belgian imperialism.
This murder comes 40 years almost to the day after the murder at the hands of imperialist troops of that other great Congolese leader and patriot, the never to be forgotten and beloved Congolese martyr, Patrice Lumumba. In the case of Lumumba the facts have only recently officially been made public, although anybody with the least knowledge and political consciousness has always known that US and Belgian imperialism were behind the murder. In the last few weeks, however, it has recently been admitted, in the
programme of the BBC, that the killing was actually carried out by Belgian troops. Lumumba’s death facilitated his replacement by the despicable Mobutu, the archetype kleptocratic puppet whose rule permitted the continued imperialist looting of Congo, then known as Zaïre. As Congo was driven further and further into grinding poverty, rebellion against Mobutu’s regime sprang up everywhere and finally, in 1997, the revolutionary forces led by Kabila succeeded in overthrowing him. Since then Laurent Kabila has struggled with might and main to free the Democratic Republic of Congo from the imperialist leeches that claim the right to exsanguinate its economy.
But now once more the Congolese have lost a visionary leader in the course of their anti-imperialist struggle.
Here is what W E Dubois wrote at the time of the murder of that other great Congolese leader, Patrice Lumumba – words which are as appropriate today as they were 40 years ago:
The Congo is a mighty valley which is – without its artificial political boundaries – half the size of the United States of America – outside Alaska. It is rich in known and underdeveloped resources: copper, gold, silver, industrial diamonds, uranium and many other metals. It has vast forests of hardwoods, and palms of al sorts. Its … people grow fruits, fibres and vegetable oils. There is unbounded water power from nearly 3,000 miles of the vast and curving Congo and its tributaries.
For this wealth and for the cheap labour of its 15,000,000 of peoples, the Western world today is staging one of its greatest and most ruthless battles…
Because of the increased and world-wide use of atomic energy, the Congo has become a centre of African development, and the reason for the desperate determination of America and Western Europe to control this part of Africa.”
(W E Dubois, ‘A Logical Programme for a Free Congo’,
15 May 1961, reproduced in
The World and Africa,
International Publications, New York, 1996, pp.320-324).
Like Lumumba, Kabila made a stand against
“the organised business enterprise of the Western world, incorporated monopoly, with secret, concealed, anonymous personalities ruled by dictators, amenable to no laws of morality whose only object is gain of wealth, at any cost of life, liberty or human happiness
Although no direct evidence has yet come to light – and it must be remembered that in the case of Lumumba it took 40 years before it did – there can be no doubt of the involvement of imperialism in the death of Kabila, who was its deadly enemy. The behaviour of the various imperialist powers following Kabila’s murder points to their very close association with those who carried out the crime, for they clearly received inside information direct from these traitors. The ‘Emperor’s Clothes’ website of 19 January 1901 published an interview with
“a diplomat associated with the British government”,
who was anxious not to be named for he is
“familiar with Central Africa, and sympathetic to the people there”.
Their interviewer in asking his questions referred to the fact that the Congolese government, in view of the country’s war situation, decided in the immediate aftermath of Kabila’s death to delay its announcement. Yet somehow the imperialist press had learnt of it and were gleefully announcing that it had taken place. The diplomat commented in response:
It is highly unorthodox. When a head of state is the target of an assassination attempt foreign governments refrain from making announcements until the government itself releases an official statement. They don’t immediately declare ‘He’s dead” He’s dead!’. Let alone ‘the dictator is dead!’ And the fact that Belgium, the US, the United Kingdom, Uganda and Rwanda, which are the two aggressor states in Congo … jumped on this situation crying ‘He’s dead! He’s dead!’ at the very least betrays their desires.
Our view is that it
“at very least betrays their
The diplomat went on to explain that Rwanda and Uganda, by occupying Eastern Congo (Katanga Province) have been meeting their IMF and World Bank obligations through plunder of the region. He went on to compare the Congo’s situation with that of Sierra Leone
“where the western media demonises those whom they oppose for exploiting the mineral resources. But if the situation changes and the West comes in they will seize and exploit those resources ruthlessly. So the real question is who is going to possess them? That is the big issue in Eastern Congo.”
Mobutu fell out of favour with US imperialism after more than three decades of untiring effort on behalf of his imperialist masters. As
of March/April 1997 explained,
“with the downfall of the Soviet Union, the common enemy of all imperialist powers, the need to maintain an imperialist united front in Africa and other super-exploited areas of the world has gone. On top of that the imperialist economic crisis has deepened, making each imperialist power desperate to secure for itself sources of huge profitability. The result of this has been what the ‘Observer’ of 19 January 1997 referred to as ‘a latter-day scramble for the mineral wealth of Africa’. US imperialism is no longer willing to assist French imperialism to maintain an unpopular regime in Zaïre, whose only function, other than self-enrichment, is to safeguard Zaïre’s mineral wealth for exploitation by French companies. As a consequence, the Mobutu regime is finding itself for the first time without the resources to suppress a major rebellion”.
US imperialism was of course hoping that Kabila would, in gratitude for their support during the rebellion, surrender his country’s wealth to its multinationals following his seizure of power. Kabila, however, turned out to be an anti-imperialist not just in rhetoric but also in deeds.
As soon as Anglo-US imperialism discovered that Kabila harboured the determination that his country’s wealth should benefit first and foremost the people of the RDC rather than western multinationals, they naturally came to the conclusion that Kabila was, after all, a dictator worse than Mobutu! We can, however, assess the real reasons for their hatred of Kabila when we examine his supposedly ‘undemocratic’ policies. Ludo Martens of the Workers’ Party of Belgium, writing from Kinshasa on 24 February 2001, points out that Kabila had introduced into the Congo the Committees of People’s Power (Comités du Pouvoir Populaire) as the principal organ of state power. Kabila stressed that ever since 1885 during the reign of Leopold II, the Congolese people had suffered repression and terror at the hands of a dictatorial state that served only foreign interests. After formal independence was granted in 1960, the old state continued to function and exert its dictatorship over all popular forces demanding fundamental change. The former white settlers who headed the colonial state had simply been replaced by black quislings working for foreign powers. The neo-colonial state machine remained at the service of western interests acting through a minority of Congolese who had amassed huge wealth through the simple medium of looting the state treasury – and were facilitated in doing so by international finance capital as a reward for their services to international imperialism. The Congolese state had to be repressive in order to enable foreign interests to prosper. The CPPs, however, had been created as the basis of a new kind of state, i.e., one which would be democratic and serve the interests of the Congolese people. It would be built from the bottom up, from the street, the locality, the commune, the village, right up to the provincial and the national levels. The new state would have the task of opposing all imperialist domination and all Congolese forces which put themselves at the service of foreign interests. The new popular democratic state would be permanently under the control of the people who would ensure it remained in their service. Mechanisms would have to be installed to prevent the functionaries and officials of the new state from re-establishing neo-colonial habits.
It is only through the CPP that the 55 million Congolese people could ensure that the national economy was rebuilt to be strong and independent, serving the interests of workers, peasants and intellectuals.
This is true democracy, not the election farces staged by neo-colonial countries under the aegis of their imperialist masters. In these ‘elections’, the only choice open to the people is between parties which serve imperialism. The election itself costs a great deal of money, and only those parties prepared to serve imperialism get the money needed to conduct an effective election campaign. The parliamentary democracy that the Congo ‘enjoyed’ between 1961 and 1965 and between 1990 to 1997 was totally illusory. The people had no voice on any issue relevant to the destiny of the nation – for every important decision was taken in Brussels, Washington and Paris, or by the narrow circle of powerful people who ruled the Congo.
Kabila supported the CPPs as the vehicle through which the Congolese people would determine how their country was to be run. CPP elections are far cheaper to organise. In CPP elections, the qualities and achievements of the candidates are more important than their parties’ financial situation. And these elections are far harder to influence and manipulate through western radio broadcasts and funding.
In short, the real reason why imperialism finds the CPP system ‘undemocratic’ is that this system severely limits imperialism’s scope for buying the result it wants.
Kabila’s policies were, however, extremely popular with ordinary Congolese people, notwithstanding the hardships they were having to suffer as a result of the aggression being committed against their country. No fewer than 2 million people lined the street to mourn the loss of their President on the occasion of his funeral. His son, Joseph Kabila, proclaimed head of state in his father’s place, perfectly expressed the mood of the nation when he said:
The head of state was the architect of the nation’s liberation, the reawakening of its national conscience as well as recovered pride and dignity. A visionary and a forerunner, a statesman of great calibre, Mzee Laurent Desiré Kabila constantly and uncomprisingly devoted all his life to the struggle for the triumph of the sacred values of freedom, justice, equality of citizens, in a united, independent and sovereign Congo. And it was indeed because of safeguarding these essential values that President Mzee Laurent Désiré paid the highest price, that is the supreme sacrifice, the sacrifice of his life, at this time of the 40
anniversary of the assassination of Patrice Emery Lumumba, our national hero.
As head of state, he ensured that decisions regarding the Democratic Republic of Congo are made by Congolese themselves, for the interest of the nation and without foreign interference. He rules this country by relying essentially on its resources, both human and natural. In this regard, it must be noted that the president of the Republic, Mzee Laurent Désiré Kabila, is among the rare leaders in the world’s contemporary history to have exercised power for more than three years without contracting any foreign debt at the expense of the state and without enriching himself…”
US imperialism had doubtless helped the liberation forces led by Laurent Kabila to overthrow the hated Mobutu kleptocracy, for it harboured the illusion that Kabila would help US imperialism gain control of the Congolese national resources at the cost of its rival European imperialist powers. Then not only the US, but all the imperialist bandit fraternity, seeing the dazzling prize slip away right under their noses, joined forces to plot the overthrow of Kabila’s revolutionary nationalist regime. Once the US discovered that Kabila, far from delivering to it the whole cake at the expense of European imperialism, in fact intended to deliver very little cake to imperialism at all, the combined imperialist forces instigated Rwanda and Uganda to invade and occupy the mineral-rich Katanga province. But despite the 100,000 Congolese deaths the conflict in Congo costs every month, the war was not going at all well for the aggressors at the time that Laurent Kabila was assassinated and there was every prospect of thse countries being forced to withdraw.
Laurent Kabila’s death has undoubtedly been a great blow to the revolutionary forces. The slightest weakening on their part, and the aggressors receive a new lease of life. Imperialism had been hoping that with the death of Kabila, his party and his army would divide up into brawling factions – for undoubtedly factions opposed to his radical line certainly exist. His successor, Joseph Kabila, has had to struggle hard, and no doubt make compromises he would have preferred to avoid, to ensure that those fighting to defend the Congo from foreign aggressors remain sufficiently united to be able to continue doing so effectively. He is thus willing to talk about dialogue and reconciliation, and even to invite the UN to play a peace-keeping role in the Congo, but his first condition is
“the immediate and unconditional withdrawal of the aggressor states, namely, Rwanda, Burundi and Uganda”.
The CPP are supporting Joseph Kabila while at the same time denouncing those who seek to undermine his father’s vision for securing the power of the people in Congo, who are plotting to turn the CPPs into a political party or other entity that does not wield state power:
We are confident that the President Joseph Kabila will carry on loyally the revolutionary struggle set out by his father 40 years ago and which reached its climax in the nationalist, anti-imperialist and popular orientation conveyed to the country from May 17 1997 until his death … The revolutionary cadres of the CPP are deeply convinced that with President Joseph Kabila heading the State, the People have the guarantee that the nationalist revolutionary line launched by our national hero Mzee Laurent-Désiré Kabila will be carried on until achievement of political and economic independence of the Congo.”
(From an article signed by 13 CPP activists published in the Congolese newspaper
on 13 February 2001).
The way forward
The way forward for the Congolese people is undoubtedly complicated and difficult. They have, however, gained a very clear vision of the future they desire freed from imperialist super-exploitation and oppression. On the other hand, the vast mineral wealth of the Congo means that it is not a prize that imperialism will easily allow to slip through its fingers. We sincerely hope that Joseph Kabila has everything it takes to lead the Congolese people to final victory sooner rather than later. The people of the world, especially the proletariat of the imperialist countries, has a bounden duty to demand clearly, loudly and unequivocally that imperialism keep out of the DRC.