Africa - Africa (2)

Congo Independence Fifty Years After the death of Patrice Lumumba.- Imperialists derail liberation struggle from 1960 until today.

Five decades after the independence of the former Belgian Congo, the genuine emancipation of this central African state is yet to be realized. Nonetheless, the survival of this state--which has been under assault since 1960 when Patrice Lumumba took charge of the country as Prime Minister representing the Congolese National Movement (MNC)--is a testament of the resilience and fortitude of the people. At this year’s independence celebrations several world leaders including the United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon were in attendance. The Democratic Republic of Congo national army put on a parade and display of military equipment that involved 15,000 troops. The DRC is one of the most mineral-rich states in the world. It has been estimated that the Central African country has 30 percent of the cobalt supply on the planet and 10 percent of the copper. However, despite the tremendous economic potential of this nation, the majority of its people remain poor living off barely more than one dollar a day. The wealth in mineral resources has always made the territory a coveted area for Western imperialism and its agents who have taken enormous natural and human resources from the Congolese people. Beginning in 1876 the Belgian Monarch King Leopold II established the territory as the “Congo Free State” and administered it as his own personal property. A vicious system of plantation agriculture enslaved Africans to work in rubber extraction where 8 million died in order to create a wealthy ruling class in Belgium. The consciousness of the Congolese people and the world community led to the dismantling of this form of colonial oppression in favor of a more classical arrangement with control being formally placed under Belgian governmental rule. Even with these changes, the African people remained the source of slave labor for the Europeans. At the time of independence there were extreme shortages of skilled personnel within civilian life as well as the police services where Africans served as subordinate workers to the Belgian officers. The rise of a nationalist movement during the 1950s, of which the Congolese National Movement under Patrice Lumumba was the most progressive, provided hope to the masses of people. Lumumba attended the first All-African People’s Conference held in Accra, Ghana in December 1958 and became known as the leading figure in the independence struggle inside the country. In January 1959, the Congolese people erupted in a national rebellion forcing the Belgian colonialists to eventually negotiate a transfer of power after an election that was scheduled for May 1960. The MNC faction led by Lumumba received the most widespread support on a national level. Lumumba was made Prime Minister and Joseph Kasavubu of ABAKO, an ethnically-based political party, was placed in office as President. Lumumba’s determination to utilize the mineral wealth of the country for the people’s interests and his commitment to a pan-African and anti-imperialist domestic and foreign policy made him a target for the Belgian colonialists and world imperialism which was dominated by the United States ruling class. The voice and political will of revolutionaries in Africa remained with Lumumba’s MNC. When in the aftermath of the independence of the Congolese state, the Belgians refused to leave the country and prompted a mutiny within the police and the succession of the southern mineral-rich region of Katanga, Ghana was one of the first countries to condemn the western machinations aimed at this newly independent state. On July 12 a high-level delegation from Ghana travelled to the Congo capital of Leopoldville at the behest of President Kwame Nkrumah. By this time the plot to overthrow Lumumba was being carried out by not only Belgium but the United States as well, which viewed the aims and objectives of the Congolese state to be in contravention to their designs in Africa. Although the United Nations Security Council passed a resolution on July 14, 1960 requesting that Belgium withdraw its forces from Congo, when the international peacekeeping force arrived in this Central African state it was working in conjunction with U.S. and European imperialism to ensure that the country would remain within the Western sphere of influence. Lumumba had appealed directly to Nkrumah for the support of his government and military to aid the Congolese state. Nkrumah sent in Ghanaian troops as part of the U.N. peacekeeping mission. As a result of Ghana’s role within the U.N. force and the leadership of its military being under the command Major-General H.T. Alexander, a British man who was inherited from the colonial period, the Ghanaian troops did not play the role that either Lumumba or Nkrumah desired. Alexander was eventually terminated by Nkrumah but it was too late to avoid the coup against Lumumba, his kidnapping and eventual assassination. Mobutu Sese Seko and Moise Tshombe were made the dominant political figures in the country. After Tshombe died in an Algerian prison, Mobutu had free rein to aid in the assistance of the plunder of the country until 1997 when he was eventually deposed by a coalition of national and pan-African forces. Civil War and the Return of the United Nations (1998-2010) After the overthrow of Mobutu in 1997, the ongoing conflict within Rwanda and Uganda provided the rationale for the ongoing imperialist intervention in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The U.S. feared a genuinely independent and united Congo and therefore backed the invasion of the eastern DRC in August 1998 by both Uganda and Rwanda. This aggressive military action on the part of these two states that are bankrolled and trained by the U.S. imperialists, prompted the intervention of Zimbabwe, Angola and Namibia on the side of the Congolese government of Laurent Kabila. This intervention by the revolutionary states of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) who were was led by Zimbabwe, beat back the imperialist plot to seize the Congo for its profit-making schemes once again.When a settlement was reached to end the fighting in 2003, the balkanization of the Congo was carried on through the use of rebel gangs that served as surrogates for the multi-national mining interests who continued to loot the country of its natural resources. The replacement of the armies from Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi on the side of the pro-imperialist forces and the Zimbabwean, Angolan and Namibian military forces, who supported the unity and national development of the DRC, were replaced by the United Nations Mission to Congo (MONUC).Just as the imperialists utilized the United Nations in 1960-61 to undermine the liberation of Congo, the presence of MONUC over the last several years has not brought peace and security to this area in the modern period. Consequently, the government of Joseph Kabila has asked MONUC to begin to withdraw from the DRC. An agreement during late 2008 to conduct joint monitoring operations with the imperialist proxy states of Rwanda and Uganda to clear out rebel forces from these neighboring countries, has still not created the conditions for real and lasting stability. Imperialism Continues Its Stranglehold on Congo At the same time any effort to foster relief from conflict and international debt is opposed by the imperialist states. Leading up to the 50th anniversary of national independence, the Canadian government openly rejected efforts to write-off debts claimed by the industrial states against the DRC, a position ostensibly resulting from disagreements over mining concessions by corporations based in that North American country.In an article published by Al Jazeera on June 30 it states that “Despite its poverty, the Canadian government has been lobbying the World Bank and IMF not to forgive any of DRC debt until the country ends a legal dispute with First Quantum, a Canadian mining company with lucrative Congolese concessions.” (Al Jazeera, June 30) According to a Reuters article written by Katrina Manson, “Canada blocked an $8 billion debt relief deal for the Democratic Republic of Congo in a dispute over mining rights, depriving the African nation of a chance to mark the 50th anniversary of its independence on Wednesday with the accord.” (Reuters, June 30) This same article continues by pointing out that “a World Bank decision on the debt was postponed at Canada’s request due to a legal dispute that exploded last year between Vancouver-based First Quantum Minerals and the Kinshasha government over mining rights. “The accord, which could have slashed Congo’s annual debt service burden to $194 million from $920 million, was to have been a high point of events to be attended by U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and Albert III, king of ex-colonial power Belgium.” (Reuters, June 30) Consequently, the only real solution for the Congolese people and Africa as a whole is to break with imperialism and move toward the economic and political integration of the Continent. An article published in the Nkrumaist Ghana Evening News on July 14, 1960 entitled “Africa Will Resist Imperialist Aggression,” sums up the role of Western states in the post-colonial period. The article states that “Imperialists have diverse ways of perpetuating colonialism. With the farewell of political imperialism, economic colonialism is the next phase that has to be attacked but, as it is, this next phase is trying its hands on African fertile soil.” (Evening News, July 14, 1960)

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