Africa Notes: Zaire at the Crossroads - November 1994
November 1, 1994
The course of political events in Zaire over the last several years has provided Western decision makers with ample excuses to remain aloof from sub-Saharan Africa's second-largest country. Since the end of the 1980s, the "hands-off" approach of various foreign powers has stood in marked contrast to their active involvement during the cold war. President Mobutu Sese Seko, ruler of the country for almost 30 years, has seen his once abundant Western support wither away to almost nothing as his abuses of human rights and public finances have become too flagrant for his sponsors to ignore. Zaire has slowly fragmented as the government in Kinshasa has lost both international credibility and control over the provinces. Today many outlying regions are semiautonomous, with communities resurrecting ethnic governance systems and conducting trade with currency from neighboring states in lieu of the country's own currency, the almost-worthless zaire.