All images above are from the collection of Bjorn Larson from http://www.timetableimages.com/ttimages/qc.htm
A foundation of his coming to power was a policy of africanisation. City names and those of people were also forcibly altered. Unsurprisingly all of this didn't bode well for SABENA's involvement in the airline and most of the their property was seized in 1965 and its share in Air Congo annulled. SABENA did however continue to operate the Kinshasa (the renamed Leopoldville) to Brussels service until June 1967.
Mobutu's africanisation even resulted in him changing his own name (the shortened version of which became Mobutu Sésé Seko) and the natural conclusion was changing the name of the country, which he did in October 1971 to Zaire (despite the fact this name came from a Portugese word whereas Congo was African)! Air Congo thus became Air Zaire and the new DC-8s only wore their original scheme for a short period. 9Q-CLH was named “Ville de Kinshasa”. In the 1970s they were joined by 737-200s, DC-10s and for a short period a 747 which Mobutu used for his own personal shopping trips to Europe!
Mismanagement and the frankly insane nature of Mobutu's rule saw the carrier fall into financial difficulties and struggled through the 1980s finally collapsing in June 1995 with huge debts. Before then 9Q-CLH was sold to American International where she became N811CK from January 1990 until December 2001. She was then sold to MK Airlines as 9G-MKO. Her last operator was Johnsons Air as 9G-LIL and she was withdrawn from use at Ras Al Khaimah in 2006.
Zaire itself finally threw out Mobutu in 1997 as a result of a backlash against government led massacres of Tutsis and the new only slightly better leader leader Laurent-Désiré Kabila renamed the country as the Democratic Republic of Congo. The west, and especially the USA, to its shame stood by Mobutu Sésé Seko and his horrible regime almost to the end - a disgraceful betrayal of their own principles and the population of the Congo. Congo's horror had not ended however and millions more would die in the incessant civil wars that have plagued the country since.
I'm Richard Stretton: a fan of classic airliners and airlines who enjoys exploring their history through my collection of die-cast airliners. If you enjoy the site please donate whatever you can to help keep it running: