• Short Summary

    Zaire fishermen work the shallow waters of the Congo river...as if nothing has happened.

    Here in?

  • Description

    Zaire fishermen work the shallow waters of the Congo river...as if nothing has happened.

    Here in the capitol---Kinshasha---there is little evidence of the death and misery that has taken place in the southern part of the country1
    Even though life in the capitol appears to be normal now--what happened in Shaba province is likely to have severe economic and political repercussions.

    850 miles to the south--the valuable copper mines are no longer in operation. They were shut down when Katanga troops invaded the area...

    70 percent of Zaire's revenue came from these mines...unless they can be put back into full production soon....the situation will have a crushing effect on the ??? already bankrupt economy and this could cause big political problems for President Mobutu.

    Most people in Zaire are poor. Food shortages are commonplace and when a new shipment of canned goods arrives from Rhodesia, South Africa or Europe---most people can't afford the prices.

    At this market place....a can of sardines sells for about three dollars.

    Inflation ??? between 70 and 80 percent a year. There is a flourishing black-market.

    In the main shopping area of Kinshasha...store windows display a variety of western made merchandise.

    But only Europeans and a small percentage of blacks can shop here.

    President Mobutu has been the absolute ruler of Zaire for 13 years??? His attempts to raise the standard of living by industrializing the country have failed....mostly because of mismanagement and widespread corruption.

    This modern steel plant was completed four years ago at a cost of 120-million dollars.... But it doesn't produce any steel.

    The plant is operating at 10 percent of capacity ...melting down scrap metal into iron igots..
    With the Zaire currency so unstable... the government is unable to buy raw material from Europe. What steel Zaire has...is imported.

    Kinshasha has traffic lights...but most of them broke down--years ago. It's cheaper to employ policemen to direct the traffic than to find the skilled technicians needed to repair the lights.

    Construction of this tower...in tribute to former Prime Minister Lumumba...began in 1974... but work was stopped before it was completed the government says it ran out of money.

    The various tribes in Zaire speak more than a dozen languages... but one word..."Matabiche" is understood by all. In english.... it means "to bribe". Matabiche is the way to avoid problems getting a hotel room...having your laundry done... placing a long distance telephone call or even getting a seat on an airplane. Despite government attempts to stop the practice...it is a way of life in Zaire.

    Not everyone in Zaire is poor .....most Europeans and those black who are well-connected with the government blacks who are well-connected with the government live in beautiful homes with shaded gardens along the Congo river.

    Many of Mobutu's top advisers and civilian officials have expensively tailored suits and often wear green metal badges with Mobutu's picture.

    But life for most ??? Zaire is hard. There is a lack of public transportation.. and telephone and mail service to many parts of the country is non-exhistant.

    Many of the 2 and a half million residents of Kinshasha came to the capital from the bush country...in search of work.

    They built their own mud-brick houses on ....without electricity, water supply or sewage. These people are ??? to marxist groups that would like to overthrown he ???.

    The dictatorial government of President Momubu has long been an embarrassment to the West.

    But the United States and other Western nations face the dilema of either supporting his corrupt regime....or possibly seeing it replaced by a Communist government.

    John Palmer, NBC News... Kinshasha

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    Reuters - Source to be Verified
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