Congo: About-Face

"We will go hungry to gain our economic independence," said the Congo's President Joseph Mobutu when he nationalized Union Minière du Haut Katanga on Jan. 1. General Mobutu's economically shortsighted advisers clapped their approval, scoffed at the prospect of a mass exodus of Belgian technicians. "Pay them," one aide predicted, "and they will do anything." It did not turn out that way. Union Minière's management immediately chose to pull out. Shipments and, consequently, sales came to a standstill. Only five of 2,000 engineers and technicians opted to stay on under a brand-new management company—Gecomin —that was formed by Mobutu.

Mobutu...

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