Mobutu received strong support (military, diplomatic and economic) from the United States, France and Belgium, who saw him as the strongest pillar of anti-communism in Francophone Africa; he also built close ties with the governments of Apartheid South Africa, Israel and the Greek military junta.
From 1972 onwards, he was also supported by Mao Zedong of China, mainly due to his anti-Soviet stance, but also as part of Mao's attempts to create a bloc of Afro-Asian nations led by him; the massive Chinese economic aid that flowed into Zaire allowed Mobutu more flexibility in his dealings with Western governments, gave him the chance to portray himself as an "anti-capitalist revolutionary", and enabled him to avoid going to the International Monetary Fund for assistance.
He was the object of a pervasive cult of personality.
The nation suffered from uncontrolled inflation, a large debt, and massive currency devaluations.
His favourites were the writings of French president Charles de Gaulle, British prime minister Winston Churchill, and Italian Renaissance philosopher Niccolò Machiavelli.
After passing a course in accounting, Mobutu began to dabble professionally in journalism.
During the 1960 talks in Brussels on Congolese independence, the US embassy held a reception for the Congolese delegation.
Embassy staff were each assigned a list of delegation members to meet, and discussed their impressions afterward. But it wasn't on anyone's list because he wasn't an official delegation member, he was Lumumba's secretary.
; born Joseph-Désiré Mobutu; 14 October 1930 – 7 September 1997) was a Congolese politician and military officer who was the military dictator and President of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (which he renamed Zaire in 1971) from 1965 to 1997.
He also served as Chairman of the Organisation of African Unity from 1967 to 1968.