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September 19, 1979 - Image 4

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1979-09-19

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Pace 4 -Wednesday, September 19. 1979-The Michiaan Daily

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Carter vs. Congress on Zaire:
U.S. supports corrupt regime

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Last week, President Mobuto Sese
Seko of Zaire met for 25 minutes
in the cabinet room of the White
House with President Carter and
the top administration foreign
policymakers. After that
meeting, the White House press
office reported 'that Mobutu in-
formed Carter of Zaire' s
"progress" in curbing economic
corruption and mismanagement.
Carter, in turn, "restated the im-
portance of Zaire," and gave
Mobutu what amounted to a show
of support in his regime's ability
to outride its current woes.
But Mr. Carter's optimistic
assessment of the Mobutu gover-
nment comes just after the House
and Senate turned in a more
negative - and more realistic. -
report card on Mobutu's reform
efforts. In a move to disassociate
the United States from the
corrupt government in Kinshasa,
House and Senate conferees
ignored administration pleas,
and in July slashed Zaire's
foreign military sales credits
from $10.5 million to $8 million.
IN FACT, there was a strong
current apparent at that con-
ference vote that almost resulted
in a complete axing of all of
Zaire's military sales credits. In
the ensuing debate, the issue
came down to a vote of confiden-
ce or no-confidence in Mobutu
himself, and whether Africa's
most corrupt leader was still
capable of salvaging his coun-
try's blighted economy and the
respect of his own people.
Also apparent was a fear,
among some member's of
Congress - apparently not
shared by the administration -
that mounting discontent among
Zaireans could lead to an over-
throw of the Mobutu regime.
Coming so' soon after the fall of
the Shah in Iran and President
Somoza in Nicaragua - both vic-
tims of popular uprisings - the
spector of the U.S. again caught
supporting an unpopular regime
was enough for most conference
members to support some kind of
military sales cutback.

"Our FMS credits to Zaire
provide a measure of iden-
tification with that government
which we should try to
minimize," Rep. Stephen Solarz
(D-N.Y.), chair of the House
Africa subcommittee and the
leading advocate in Congress of
breaking our ties with the Mobutu
government. "The Zairean
government has completely lost
the confidence of the people of the
were illistrated most markedly in
May, 1978, when Katangan rebels
from Angolan bases invaded
Zaire's mineral-rich Shaba
province, and the Zairean army
was reduced to a mob of armed
looters terrorizing Zairean
citizens. The U.S. airforce had to
airliflt ito Shaba a 2,000-man in-
ter-African peacekeeping force to
protect Zaireans from their own
army while French and Belgium
paratroopers could train a new
Zairean unit to take over the
peacekeeping function.
The state of the Zairean army
was so dismal that over one year
later, the U.S. has just begun
removing the inter-African force,
to replace them with the
Zaireans. While the ad-
ministration publicly expressed
confidence in the progress the
Zairean army has made,
privately State department of-
ficials concede that the reason
the peacekeeping force was left
virtually stranded for so long,
was that there was still concern
that the Zaireans were ill-
eqiupped and unprepared to take
over securing Shaba against
another invasion.
The key 'problem with the
Zairean army, as is the root of
most of Zaire's ills, is the ram-
pant corruption in Mobutu's
government. The army was un-
derpaid, and often went unpaid
when paychecks were pilfered off
by the officials in Kinshasa.
Thus, the army was reduced to

looting literally in order to sur-
Mobutu's government has also
reduced the state's economy to a
budget that makes Cleveland look
like the prototype of fiscal respon-
sibility. Zaire is bankrupt,
currently owing close to $700,
million to private banks and .
various government agencies.
The International Monetary
Fund (IMF) was forced to send in
an outside auditor to take control
of Zaire's bookkeeping. Money
for projects - like an Export-
Import Bank-financed hydroelec-
tric power transmission line -
usually got lost in the pockets of
Zairean bureaucrats. Food and
rice designated for the poor in the
rural areas rarely leave the
Mobutu, smarting from the
1978 Shaba invasion, the decline
in copper production, and Zaire's
bankruptcy, promised to under-
take a massive reofrm plan
drawn up, in part, with finance
officials from the IMF. It was
IMF business that brought
Mobutu to this country last
The issue of U.S. policy towar-
ds Zaire comes down to a
question posed by one
congressional source and
Africanist - that is, is reform
Still capable under the current
regime? Congressman Solarz
believes not, and he was able to
convince his African subcommit-
tee and the full House, which voted
to give Mobutu no military sales
credits at all. Only the pleas by
Deputy Secretary of State Lan-
non Walker before the House-
Senate conference managed to
saveZaire a symbolic $8 million
in aid, barely enough forZaire to
afford the repairs on the U.S.
equipment they already own.
continued support for Zaire is
based not on any articular en-r
dearment to Mr. Mobutu, but

By Keith Richburg

more on political, strategic, and
economic practicalities.
Strategically, Zaire is located
in the center of the African con-
tinent, on the border of Marxst
Angola, which professes an af-
finity, if not allegiance, to
Moscow. And Mobutu, forgall his
corruption, is still a firm protec-
tor of U.S. and Western interests
in Africa, and in the event the
U.S. abandons its longtime ally,
there is no telling what form of
government would replace him."
And economically, U.S.
creditors have a substantial
stake in Mobutu surviving in of-
fice long enough to develop
Zaire's mining economy before
the country can pay its bills. As
one official of the Export-Import
bank phrased it, they sunk so
much money there already that
now they have no choice but to
stay. there, sink more money in,
and hope one day to get a return
on their investment.
BUT AS REPORTS continue of
discontent with Mobutu among
the Zairean populace, there is a
growing alarm in this country
and in Congress that the U.S.may
again be caught in "another
Iran" backing the wrong
The move to cut military
sales continues what Solarz ter-
med "a process of incramental
disassociation" with Mobutu. The
question is whether that final
disassociation will come before
the United States becomes per-
manently and hopelessly iden-
tified with another corrupt
regime. Already, the lad-
ministration is not winning any
friends among black African
nations by expressing continued
sdpport for Africa's undisputed
king of corruption. Hopefully,
Congress will have the better
sense to continue, and even speed
up, the disassociation process
with Mobutu's regime, and
perhaps pave the way for a more
popular and responsible gover-
nment for the people of Zaire.


l e tcl i ttn ttil

LXXXX, No. 12

nety Years of Editorial Freedom

News Phone: 764-0552 1

Edited and managed by students at the University of Michigan

A new election for MSA

INCE THOSE dark days in April
when the student body elected a
1iew government, much has happened
to convince the most optimistic obser-
vers that elected student represen-
4ation is no match for the powerful
;University administration. United in a
,two-front attack against independent
ettdent government, the Regents and
-the University's top administrators
Shave intervened in the elections,
C process and the budget authority of the
'.Michigan Student Assembly (MSA).
While those administrative actions
can not be condoned, they demonstrate
the assembly's weakness in the
University community. That weakness
is an unfortunate reality and must be
But before the assembly can take on
the Regents, it must first take on itself.
*For if the battles for power with the
University are ever to be productive,
IMSA will have to work from a strong
abase that is certainly absent now.
. The first target for reconstruction
vill be the most difficult, but also the
most essential. MSA has been racked
Zwith numerous election infractions in
past -years, the most serious marring
last April's'election. Since that election
displayed so many clear violations of
normal elections procedures, and was
never ratified by the Central Student
fJudiciary (CSJ)-the internal judicial
-body which certifies assembly elec-
tions-there is only one possible place
to begin mending the wounds of pasts.
MSA misfortunes.
There must be a new election
r sometime in October. The countless
errors of the past election proved more
t than embarrassing. They created a
' framework of unfair and illegitimate
tepresentation which now resides in
the offices of student government. For
it is those members who were elected
"by students in April who currently oc-
cupy those offices, despite the abuses
that dominated each day of the elec-
Soon after CSJ's vote on cer-
tification, Johnson overruled that body
and declared the elections valid. His
reasoning was never clearly stated but
the vice-president seemed unconcer-
ned with the shabby election practices.
His ruling thereby allowed the election
to stand, and the assembly to continue
'as normal, but that remarkable abuse
of University authority does not
remove the necessity for an election.

While there is no actual evidence
that the candidates who operated the
polling sites atfempted to influence
votes in any manner, just the ap-
pearance of that participation
blemishes the Assembly's image. Fur-
thermore, if the candidates did stay at
different sites throughout the election,
there is certainly no proof that they
didn't .try to affect the votes of various
students. And as the elections code has
stipulated, politicking so close to the
polling sites gives an unfair advantage
to certain candidates-an advantage
which could easily have changed the
results of the election.
Some assembly representatives and
other students complain that can-
didates and party-affiliated members
are forced to operate some polling sites
because it is impossible to get other
students to do the work. But the way to
overcome that problem is to funnel
more money from the MSA budget into
the elections process, and give some of
that increased allocation to students
who would operate the polls.
To make sure future elections run
smoothly and responsibly, MSA should
create a completely independent
committee that would have total con-
trol over the elections process.
But just as it seems clear that a new
election isneeded, numerous obstacles
block that path. The most serious
problem is the fact that the assembly
still does not have its allocation
authority, and therefore can not spend
any money on a new election. That
power may be restored to the group
within a few weeks, but if not, Johnson
should take some of the $50,000
belonging to the assembly and use that
to fund a new election.,
In addition, a new election would
take a lot of time from normal assem-
bly affairs, and use money that would
otherwise be channeled to student
organizations. That consequence will.
hinder the amount of work the current
representatives of MSA could accom-
rplish, but it is far more important that
a responsible body emerge from a new
election, a body picked in a fair elec-
tions process.
As another precaution to insure that
future instances of shabby elections
can be resolved before the end of a
school year, the assembly should move
its annual time for elections from April
to sometime in March. This change
would allow a new election to be held

Keith Richburg is
Director of the'
Editorial Page.

the Co-

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In focusing on course schedules
for the new term, students often
think about careers - what they
will do with their lives. This story
is about one way to choose a
Simon was on a mission; only
he did not know what it was. In
fact, he did not even know his real
name. He thought his name was
HE DID know he had arrived in
the park that morning. It was
now about noon. He sat on a pic-
nic table and the hanging trees
nearly brushed the top of his hair.
Simon wondered if he was to
meet someone, but no one was in
sight. Perhaps he was to perform
some act. He tried waving his
hands in the air - hocus, pocus
fashion - but nothing happened.
Perhaps he was just to sit
there, which at any rate, he con-
tinued to do. He took a pear from
the pocket of his wrinkled coat
and bit into it.
HE BEGAN to hear sounds ap-
proaching, building, musical and
rhythmic but not quite music, at
least not from instruments.
The sounds were more like bir-
ds, a large coordinated chorus of
birds singing near noontime in
the park. But there were no birds,
at least none that Simon could
There was, however, a man -
walking from the direction of the
sound, ashort, man in bermuda
shorts and sneakers, an older
man, old enough'to be Simon's
father, or his father's older

One way to choose
a profession
By John Ellis

AS THE MAN approached, the
sounds began to fade. The man
seemed pre-occupied, as if he had
lost something, but something
small, not valuable in itself. A
small coin or a paper napkin or a
plucked daisy.
"Have you seen anything,"
Hillbury asked. The man's name
was Hillbury.
"No, I haven't," said Simon.
"Should I have?"
"No, no," said Hillbury. "You
can't be expected to see what you
"WERE YOU perhaps sent to
meet me?" Simon asked.
"Sent?" Hillbury looked
almost puzzled, but then as
quickly, he smiled. "Sent? Oh
yes, of course. I'm Hillbury. You
must be my cousin."
Simon wondered. He knew all
his cousins and none were named
Hillbury. The man was standing
a few feet in front of Simon, in the
full noonday sun. "May I have a
seat?" Hillbury asked, moving to
the table.
"Certainly," said Simon. "But
I doubt we are cousins. I know my
relations and I have never heard
of a Hillbury."

"OH?:" AGAI Hillbury was
puzzled. "Did I get it wrong
again. Not cousins?" Hillbury
looked into the distance, to the
tall trees as the northern edge of
the park. "Then let me say this.
Your mission is over there. In
those tall trees near the gate."
"My mission?" said Simon,
surprised that Hillbury knew. At
this point Hillbury rose from the
tabletop and left in the direction
from "whence he came, trailing
bird songs in his wake. "Goodbye
Simon," he said, to the man who
thought he was Joe.
Simon approached the trees
cautiously. He had waited for this
moment, all day. He savored the
anticipation,nervous and yet
confident. Was this not after-all
his mission?
THE TREES WERE very tall,
sequoias, growing as they do, in a
circle. They were a few feet from
the main entrance to the park,
off to one side, just enough to be
out of the usual pattern of park
strollers. The sky pieced through
their uppermost leaves as Simon
looked up. ,
When he looked down, on the

ground, near the center of the
circle of trees, he saw a daisy,
lying uprooted as if it had been
carried from a nearby field, and
lost there. Simon picked it up,
and as he did, he heard the sound
of birds, singing in a chorus. He
could almost makes out the tune.
It was slow and soaring, from a
thousand small voices.
Simon carried the daisy out in-
to the sunlight. He walked past
children running, old men on
benches, babies being wheeled,
women laughing at a fountain.
HE CAME TO the far end of the
park and then took the daisy out
into the world, to the streets and
buildings, the noise and enter-
prise, and wherever Simon
walked, birds sang by the
thousands, slowly and soaring,
and people paused and asked if he
had been sent to meet them.
He would reply, "Sent? Oh yes,
of course. I'm Simon. You must
be my cousin.
Into the world we have each to
carry a flower. It will be found off
to the side, in a suitable place. We
can expect directions from 'a
cousin, and we will in turn
become one. As we carry this
flower, birds will sing.
Begin by sitting in a park A'd
eating a pear. To make the pear
magic, you must be thinking
about your mission.
This story was part of a talk
delivered last night by John
Ellis to students; in the Pilot



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