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Inventory of the Mouvement populaire de la révolution (Zaire) miscellaneous records
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Collection Summary
  • Administrative Information
  • Historical Note
  • Scope and Content of Collection
  • Indexing Terms

  • Collection Summary

    Title: Mouvement populaire de la révolution (Zaire) miscellaneous records
    Dates: 1967-1975
    Collection Number: 91063
    Creator: Mouvement populaire de la révolution (Zaire)
    Collection Size: 7 manuscript boxes, 2 card file boxes (3.8 linear feet)
    Repository: Hoover Institution Archives
    Stanford, California 94305-6010
    Abstract: Minutes of meetings, conference proceedings, speeches, reports, and memoranda, relating to political conditions in Zaire and administration of the government of Zaire. Includes records from the national level of the party, some provincial and local levels, and the youth affiliate of the party. Includes descriptive notes by Herbert F. Weiss. In part, photocopy.
    Physical Location: Hoover Institution Archives
    Languages: In French

    Administrative Information


    Collection is open for research.
    The Hoover Institution Archives only allows access to copies of audiovisual items. To listen to sound recordings or to view videos or films during your visit, please contact the Archives at least two working days before your arrival. We will then advise you of the accessibility of the material you wish to see or hear. Please note that not all audiovisual material is immediately accessible.

    Publication Rights

    For copyright status, please contact the Hoover Institution Archives.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], Mouvement populaire de la révolution (Zaire) miscellaneous records, [Box number], Hoover Institution Archives.

    Acquisition Information

    Acquired by the Hoover Institution Archives in 1991 with an increment in 2010.


    Materials may have been added to the collection since this finding aid was prepared. To determine if this has occurred, find the collection in Stanford University's online catalog at http://searchworks.stanford.edu/ . Materials have been added to the collection if the number of boxes listed in the catalog is larger than the number of boxes listed in this finding aid.

    Related Materials

    Herbert F. Weiss papers, Hoover Institution Archives
    Conseil national de libération (Congo) Commandement des forces armées populaires. Etat major général records, Hoover Institution Archives

    Historical Note

    The collection of documents covers the period starting with the early establishment of the Mouvement populaire de la révolution (MPR) through the time when it was virtually merged with the state bureaucracy. In 1965 General Mobutu led a military coup that took over the government of Zaire (then the Democratic Republic of the Congo). Mobutu remained in power until 1997, when he was overthrown in the First Congo War by Laurent-Désiré Kabila, who was supported by the governments of Rwanda, Burundi, and Uganda.
    Perhaps most important to the durability of the Mobutu regime was the establishment of a political party, the MPR, which more or less successfully enrolled every citizen into its ranks. The party was organized along authoritarian lines as was every other state institution, and it served the purpose of allowing the rulers to communicate with and to control the ruled.
    The MPR's top leadership soon overlapped with the top officials in the government. However, below the top national level, the two structures were quite distinct and indeed almost immediately fell into sharp competition. Every level of society, from the large provinces down to small villages, found itself lodged with competing politico-governmental authorities, each claiming to represent the true and ultimate authority of the leader, Mobutu. The antagonism between the two structures did not only take place because they were in fact institutionally pitted against each other, but also because of the nature of their two sets of elites.
    The administration had been nationalized and "de-tribalized," so no official could obtain a post in his region of origin. Indeed, the higher the official the farther he was posted from his home. In the MPR the pattern was the exact opposite. Leaders were valued because of their ability to mobilize the masses and they could do this best in the regions where they were at home.
    The competition between the two structures created an unusual situation for an authoritarian regime; people were able to play off one against the other and thus achieve a significant degree of action on grievance claims. At the local level, it was almost as if a two party system existed. Furthermore, because of their overlapping claims to authority they both reported essentially the same areas of concern to their higher echelons. MPR documents not only deal with party affairs but comprehensively describe the local situation.
    The Mobutu regime did not perceive this situation as a positive development. It saw the competition as lowering discipline while viewing discipline as the most desirable condition for the state and its leaders. As a result, a number of changes were undertaken that sought to synchronize the two structures. First, local administrators were made ex-officio presidents of local MPR sections. Later, MPR officials were integrated into the public service and finally the elites of both structures were mixed and de-tribalized.
    The result was that grievance claims became much more difficult to make since it was now necessary to make one's complaints to the officials against whom one was lodging the complaints. Local interests no longer had "sons of the land" through whom grievances could be expressed; everyone was ruled by "foreigners" i.e. persons from another part of the country who often did not speak the local language.

    Herbert Weiss, "The Mouvement populaire de la révolution (MPR) collection description, context and significance," 1991. Hoover Institution collection file

    Renton, David, David Seddon, and Leo Zeilig, The Congo, Plunder and Resistance, ZED books, 2007

    Scope and Content of Collection

    The bulk of the collection, from the single party organization of the Mobutu regime, was collected by Herbert Weiss during an extended research trip in 1972. The documentation is comprised of internal party minutes, reports, cadre performance evaluations, and descriptions of local political and economic conditions. The bulk of the documents cover the period from 1968 to 1972, selected from the secretariats of every type of echelon of the party, i.e. collectivity, zone, sub-region, region, and nation. Documents are filed alphabetically by name of the geographic subdivisions given by Herbert Weiss.
    The documents were collected with permission of the Secretary General and the Director of the Political Bureau of the party. Great care was taken not to depart with unique copies of any material. Fortunately, the bureaucratic procedures that were being followed within the party secretariats involved producing several signed and sealed carbon copies of most reports and correspondence. About eighty percent of the material is of this type.
    The remainder are positive photocopy off-prints from photo negatives of interesting documents of which only one copy was found. Additional published materials were collected at a later time. It is virtually certain that the first copies of this material will never be available to researchers and have, in large part, already been destroyed.
    These documents provide a base for research not only on the history of Zaire, but also more broadly to an understanding of mass mobilizing authoritarian regimes and the study of grass roots pluralism and democratization.
    The records also show the relationship between the MPR and its youth section, the JMPR, an organization that emerged from earlier political youth organizations that participated in the Congo rebellions in 1963 to 1966. The source of many complaints from the citizens who found JMPR actions abusive, the conflicts are frequently documented in the records.
    Herbert Weiss stamped most of the documents in the collection with an identification number. The typewritten summary cards in boxes 1-2 correlate to an identification number within the collected documents in boxes 3-8. Not all of the materials in the collection were numbered, some numbers are missing from the sequence and it is assumed that not all sequential identification numbers were used.
    The material arrived at the archives in a geographic arrangement that has been retained; it does not follow Weiss' numeric sequence.

    Herbert Weiss, "The Mouvement populaire de la révolution (MPR) collection description, context and significance," 1991. Hoover Institution file

    Indexing Terms

    The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the library's online public access catalog.
    Congo (Democratic Republic)--Politics and government--1960-1997.
    Weiss, Herbert F.