Page 10, 12th May 1961

12th May 1961
Page 10
Page 10, 12th May 1961 — Belgians did not desert

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Locations: Stanleyville


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Belgians did not desert


President KASAVUBU

THE revolt of Moise Tshombe, the Katanga leader, would have been brought to heel long ago but for UNO's failure adequately to support the central government regime of President Kasavubu.

Moreover, the role of the Belgians. who raised the Congo to the highest social and economic level in Tropical Africa is still indispensable to it— and the charges of wholesale Belgian "desertion" after the terror of last July has been grossly exaggerated.

Kasavubu, a Catholic, is slow in decision. Leut his partnership with General Mobutu offers the best hope of stability, and of national integration.


Mr. Hammarskjold's representative in the Congo, Rajeshwar Dayal, has been as much a servant of Nehru's " positive neutralism" as of the United Nations.

Mr. Nehru has a vested interest in a disunited Congo. Indians need lebensraum, and are pouring into the Congo to seek their fortunes. The doors of a united Congo under a firm administration might be less wide open.

Such conclusions, drawn from talks with Europeans home from the Congo, are reinforced by the Swedish scientist Kai CurryLindahl (in the "Svensk Dagbladt ") and the American journalist Stewart Alsop (" Saturday Evening Post "). They differ sharply from Dr. Ritchie Calder, for instance, who has nothing good to say about the Belgians—apart from the missionaries.

If the lights go on when you touch the switch in the Congo today, if Congolese government finances remain viable, if Katanga's mines stilt function, it is because Belgians are still on the job.

Many Belgian business men and civil servants sent their families home in the terror, and stayed themselves. Others went home and returned later. The get-rich-quick did not come hack. The solid, responsible trader is still there. Business is as usual, even booming.

The Belgian army officers, however, were got rid of by Lumumba at the instigation of Nkrumah (who had retained British officers in the Ghanaian army). Maybe a disordered Congo offered better scope for the intrusion of Nkrumah's Pan-African dream.

Curry-Lindahl accuses Lumumba of inciting the revolt of the Force Publique to get the officers out. It is certain that, in spite of the officers' urgent pleas, he did nothing to stop the revolt.

Ritchie Calder rightly asserts that 40 per cent. of the doctors left the Congo. But he fails to distinguish. In hospitals and clinics in the capital and provincial centres the Belgian staffs remained almost intact.

The departures were from rural areas which had always been short of doctors and where Congolese medical assistants had 'been highly trained to handle routine procedures. UNO doctors were able to correct the lack of qualified supervision with ease.


There was a total exodus cif agents sanitaires, but only because

the preventive medical and sanita tion services had already been brought to a standstill by the growing antagonism of the rural peoples, restless for independence, who now refused vaccination and co-operation of all kinds.

When the Belgian government. under pressure of the Congolese politicians and of UNO's undiscriminating support of African nationalism, was forced to grant premature independence, it was only half-way through a 30-year plan, On primary and technical levels, the Belgians were educating the people at the rate of 101 pupils per thousand inhabitants, while the figure for Kenya was only 76 and Nigeria 57 (even Britain's figure is only 158), Technical and business training was of a very high standard. African plantation managers frequently control nearly a thousand workers.

The Belgians founded two universities, but there are admittedly few Congolese graduates and professionals yet. But the Belgian principle is not to create first an elite and thus a social pyramid with a small educated clique of leaders exercising dictatorial influences over the masses, They prefer to educate the whole population together, stage by stage.

But for Dayal's immobilisation of Kasavubu's troops, Tshombe of Kataliga, Kalonji of Kasai, and the Stanleyville dissidents would have been brought to heel long ago. Nor could Gizenga—whom UNO troops did nothing to stop—have moved on Kivu and Katanga.

As Stewart Alsop puts it: "United Nations forces, largely subsidised by the United States, have been used to prevent a moderate, pro-Western, anti-Com munist regime, headed by the U.N.-recognised chief of State (Kasavubu), from consolidating its position in the heart of Africa ".

Federal government? How can this be in a country where the Balubas of Katanga supported the Stankyville Lumumbists because Tshombe is,a Balunda (the enemy tribe), while the Bahaism of S. Kasai opposed Lumumba because he was aided by their tribal enemy, the Luluas? Kasavubu himself has had to learn the hard way that tribal enmities cut clean across state frontiers.

Democracy? Some of Lumumba's parliamentary supporters cost him nearly £700 a head, and the Cornmonist powers, Ghana and Egypt all " bought a slice of Lumumba Preferred on the Lumumba bull market ". (Alsop).

It is time we all started backing the favourite,

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