Country Listing

Zaire Table of Contents


National Gendarmerie

On August 1, 1972, President Mobutu dissolved the National Police and merged it with the largely rural gendarmerie into a single force, the National Gendarmerie. This move significantly increased the size of the national police force and made it an institutionally distinct component of the FAZ, hierarchically equivalent to the other services. By transferring the national police force from the Ministry of Interior to the Ministry of Defense (Ministry of Defense and Veterans' Affairs in 1993), Mobutu brought the police under his direct control. Key personnel from the police force were retained, and others were mustered out. Despite this reorganization, a large number of the local, or collectivity police, remained outside the national government's control, possibly totaling between 25,000 and 30,000.

Military authorities, rather than local civilian administrators, normally approve all significant deployments, including those required to perform typically civil police duties. This arrangement, combined with the National Gendarmerie's relatively poor training, discipline, and equipment, sorely limits the organization's capability to function as an effective police force. Furthermore, the typical gendarme is grossly underpaid, if he is paid at all, and so often uses his position to extort resources from the very people he is charged with protecting. As a result, the gendarmerie has contributed little to the maintenance of law and order in Zaire.

In August 1993, the chief of staff of the gendarmerie, on the twentieth anniversary of its founding, gave a speech in which he noted that the nation's roads are insecure because of widespread banditry, much of it perpetrated by gendarmerie personnel. He also acknowledged that members of the gendarmerie are involved in murder, the illegal possession of weapons, extortion, and armed robbery.

Data as of December 1993