Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

Workers’ Viewpoint

Defend Zaire’s Sovereignty!

Soviet Social Imperialists Back Invasion

First Published: Workers Viewpoint, Vol. 2, No. 4, May 1977.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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Beginning March 8, several thousand troops invaded the southern part of the Republic of Zaire’s Shaba Province from neighboring Angola. Despite their shabby attempts at lies and cover-up, it is crystal clear to the Zairian people, as well as the masses of people around the world, that the invaders are Kataganese along with Cuban and Angolan mercenaries armed, trained, and paid by the Soviet social-imperialists, and that the invasion represents a planned act of armed provocation against the sovereignty of Zaire.

The Soviet social-imperialists are not new to creating these kinds of lies and schemes. In their life and death competition with the other superpower, the U.S. imperialists, for spheres of influence and control of the world, the Soviet social-imperialists have been stepping up their activity in Africa.

Last year’s events in Angola are still very fresh in the minds of the African peoples and of all peoples fighting for their national liberation. The Soviet social-imperialists, meddling in the internal affairs of the Angolan people under the signboard of aid to national liberation struggles, trampled all over the attempts made by the three Angolan national liberation groups to put aside their differences and unite around a coalition government for national independence. The New Tsars wrecked this unity and in fact pitted the groups against one another: They came out calling one national liberation group, the MPLA, the only genuinely revolutionary one, and pumped in untold quantities of arms, equipment and Cuban mercenaries to support it, while it denounced the other groups as totally reactionary and “paid agents” of U.S. imperialism. Such brazen acts of interference in the internal affairs of another country were bound to confuse and antagonize the different forces, and have thrown the entire country into a bloody civil war, just as national independence was about to be achieved. This left the door wide open to Soviet social-imperialist occupation, a factor that definitely increases the danger of war, as it means stepping up contention with the U.S. imperialists. Isn’t the current situation in Zaire a clear example of this? In fact, it has been Angola that the Soviet social-imperialists are using as a springboard to step up their expansion in central and southern Africa and contention with the U.S. imperialists. The lessons learned in Angola have taught the people of the world to be on their guard against new tricks the Soviet social-imperialists might try to use to sneak in the back door.


U.S. imperialism, previously the sole main enemy of the people of the world, is an exposed superpower, whose arrogant exploitation and oppression of the world’s people has been on the decline. It has been kicked out of Korea, Laos, Cambodia, etc, and exposed in Africa and Latin America. People all over the world have condemned the “Yankee Imperialists.”

The U.S. imperialists, hated plunderers of the people of the world, had to resort to neo-colonial exploitation of many people in Asia, Africa, and Latin America. Backing various comprador, petty, and big bourgeoisie, and even at times the national bourgeoisie, the U.S. imperialists sought to exploit the masses indirectly, as opposed to the old, outright, colonial rule of the British and French type.

This is the story of the U.S. imperialists backing the notorious Thieu clique in Vietnam, the Fascist Junta in Chile, the Shah of Iran, and numerous other Third World bourgeoisies. But the intensifying exploitation and oppression of the toiling masses fired their resistance, which inevitably brought them face-to-face with U.S. Imperialists who objectively were “behind the scenes”, as in Cambodia and the Dominican Republic.

This was the story of Mobutu in Zaire. During the turbulent “year of Africa,” in I960, the U.S., French, Dutch, Belgian and British imperialists backed Moise Tshombe, who murdered the patriotic anti-imperialist Patrice Lumumba, in order to prevent the revolutionary independence struggle of the Congolese people. The U.S. imperialists then backed Mobutu Sese Seko as the person to consolidate its interests and crush a secessionist movement of the Katangan people, which would have taken control of the rich copper and mineral resources in Katanga province.

Today, like in many Third World countries, due to U.S. imperialist (Belgian, German, French, British, South African, and Japanese) exploitation of the people of Zaire, the misery, poverty and resistance of the Zairian people has been growing. And as with many Third World countries, enjoying little support, the rule of Mobutu has been weakening, and the Zairian people were inevitably on the road to revolutionary victory over U.S. imperialist influence and all reaction. Only the Zairian people themselves could carry out such a task.

Taking advantage of the increasing opposition to and weakening rule of Mobutu, which objectively is a weakening of U.S. imperialist influence, the Soviet Social-Imperialists have stepped in to “fish in troubled waters”, as the U.S. Imperialists stand helpless, unable to send in U.S. troops, as in the case of Vietnam and the Dominican Republic. This is a reflection of the complete exposure of the U.S. Imperialists in the eyes of the world’s people, including the U.S. people. But the Zairian people while kicking out the wolf at the front door, must be vigilant on the tiger at the back gate.


Back in 1960, when Zaire won its independence, Moise Tshombe led Katanga Province (known today as Shaba Province) in a drive to secede and set up an. independent state. But three years later, in 1963, this attempt was defeated and many Katangans fled to Angola and later fought for the Soviet-backed MPLA.

Today, the Soviet social-imperialists and Castro are reviving this history saying about the current situation in Zaire: Why, just look – it is obvious to us that it’s just a case of the Katangans going back to liberate their homeland..it’s an internal affair...a civil war, and we have nothing to do with the current upheaval in southern Zaire.

But this hogwash is merely the pretext the Soviet social-imperialists are building up to hide under while they themselves are actually the ones who are training, arming and paying off the mercenaries (and there are still about 15,000 Cuban mercenaries in Angola) to invade Zaire. In fact, they have been shelling Zaire’s border towns from Angola for well over a year now. The Soviet social-imperialists are stirring up old antagonisms about a separate Katangan state, and pitting Katangans against Zairians, all in an attempt to divide and control central and southern Africa, seize the rich copper deposits and expand their influence there.

The Soviet social-imperialists are striking right at the heart of Zaire’s economy–the rich copper and steel-mining center of Kolwezi in Shaba Province. The mines and smelters in Shaba Province alone account for 80% of Zaire’s foreign earnings through exports. These attempts to cripple Zaire’s economy just at a time of relative instability reflect the viciousness of the Soviet social-imperialists–attempting to create a crisis and fish in troubled waters to take advantage of the situation to gain control.

The Soviet social-imperialists are also anxious to replace President Mobutu with someone more sympathetic to themselves. Soon after the initial invasion on March 8, Mobutu pointed his finger at the Soviet social-imperialists as the real kingpins behind the mercenaries, and more recently the Government of Zaire has broken off relations with Cuba and ordered all Cuban diplomats to leave the country because of Cuba’s role in the invasion.

The Zairian people must be supported in their resistance to the Soviet social-imperialist instigated invasion of southern Zaire, a clear attempt to grab a large chunk of Africa and strengthen its aggressive drive toward domination of the world’s people and contention with the U.S. Imperialists. The internal contradictions in Zaire must be settled by the people themselves! Both superpowers out of Africa is the just demand of the Zairian people.


Isn’t this the same as before World War II when Ethiopia was attacked by the Fascist Italian imperialists? The world’s people had to defend Ethiopia against Fascist aggression. This was proletarian internationalist opposition to all imperialist expansionism.

The British and French imperialists wailed about the aggression of the Italian imperialists, and even brought Haile Selassie before the League of Nations to condemn Fascist aggression. For the progressive people to defend Italy’s sovereignty against Italian aggression did not mean that they sided with the British and French imperialists, who also opposed Italian aggression, for their own imperialist competitive interests.

This is especially important today, as both superpowers attempt to undermine the state sovereignty of Third World and even Second World countries, particularly the Soviet Social-Imperialists, with their outright “Tsarist” line of some countries having “limited sovereignty.”

Revolutionaries and progressive people uphold and defend the state sovereignty of Third World and Second World countries against superpower hegemony and interference. This objectively weakens the two superpowers, and to that extent it objectively weakens superpower support for reaction in those countries, thereby creating favorable conditions for the revolutionary and progressive people. The imperialists and social-imperialists cannot at all uphold state sovereignty, as the objective laws of their economic, base force them to expand, interfere, and attempt to undermine the sovereignty of other countries.

Heads of state such as Mobutu and the Shah of Iran objectively have contradictions with both superpowers because they too are bourgeoisie and attempt to take relatively independent roads and positions in their own interests. In today’s world situation, the revolutionary sentiment and upsurge of the people of the Third World also force these bourgeoisie to at times oppose both superpowers. When they oppose the superpowers, they must be supported, as for example the Shah’s participation in OPEC, or Mobutu’s recognition of the People’s Republic of China. Any attempt to strengthen the unity of Third World countries against either or both superpowers must be supported as it helps to build the united front against the two superpowers. This is very important in weakening the grip and influence of the two superpowers on Third World countries, slowing down their war preparations and giving the people of the world more time to prepare. In no way is this in contradiction to support for the people’s struggle against all internal reaction, but in fact aids it. That is why the Zairian people must be supported in their attempts to smash the Soviet social-imperialist backed invasion of their country, while they themselves, depending on self-reliance and armed struggle will decide the question of “What road for Zaire?”


The invasion of Zaire is not an isolated incident. The Soviet social-imperialists are going all out now in central and southern Africa in order to capitalize on the fact that the scheme of the U.S. imperialists (the so-called Kissinger plan) for ending minority rule in Zimbabwe has fallen flat on its face. The present act of aggression was premeditated and came at the same time that Nicolai Podgorny, President of the Soviet Union, and Fidel Castro of Cuba, were themselves paying well-timed visits to Tanzania, Zambia, Mozambique, and Angola, and making offers of aid to the Presidents of the five front line African states, in an obvious effort to gain recognition as the top supporters of national liberation and majority rule in Zimbabwe.

And after signing a treaty of friendship with Mozambique, involving military aid, Podgorny made an unannounced “detour” to Somalia where the Soviet-, social imperialists maintain major naval bases. They are parading themselves around as friends of the African people who stand opposed to racism and imperialism. They are proclaiming that detente is good for Africa and Zaire, because, as Podgorny said, it will “curb the outrages of imperialism” and is “consistent with the cause of revolution and national liberation.” This is all part of their global scheme of contention with the U.S. Imperialists, and digging a deeper foothold in Africa. The more fierce the contention, the louder they blow their horn of detente and “support for national liberation movements.” But we have already seen what such sweet words from the mouths of the Soviet social-imperialists meant for the people of Angola. A base in central and southern Africa for the Soviet social-imperialists would strengthen its position for contending with U.S. Imperialism. It would be a grave escalation of the factors for war, and only feed the aggressive, warmongering activities of the Soviet social imperialists. Only actively opposing both superpowers, preventing their expansionism and interference, etc. by the people of the entire world would lessen the danger of world war.

The U.S. Imperialists, too, have been pumping in large quantities of aid to Zaire, for this other superpower has high stakes in preventing central and southern Africa from becoming part of the Soviet Union’s domain. Soon after the invasion, Zaire requested and the U.S. Imperialists supplied $2 million of supplies, part of the $30 million military credit sales earmarked for Zaire for 1977. But it is precisely because the Soviet social-imperialists are the more aggressive, and use “socialist” words so skillfully to try to cover up their imperialist motives and deeds, and try to appear revolutionary and progressive and the U.S. Imperialists are exposed and declining, that they are the more dangerous of the two superpowers, and that their aggression around the world represents the main source of a new world war today.

The Zairian people and freedom-fighters are heroically resisting and counter-attacking the Soviet social imperialists’ acts of armed aggression and interference in their internal affairs, and are attempting to beat the Soviet-backed mercenaries back across the Angolan border. The battle will be long and difficult, but history is on the side of the Zairian people, and through the many twists and turns, the Zairian people will carry through to the end their struggle against both old and new colonialism, imperialism, and hegemonism, Zionism and racism to achieve freedom and independence.