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Zaïre (Democratic Republic of Congo)

(1971 - 1997)

Last modified: 2022-10-22 by bruce berry
Keywords: zaire | congo | mobutu | torch |
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image by Martin Grieve, 27 Dec 2009
 Adopted 5 July 1990 See also:  


The Constitution of Zaire, which was in force until last Saturday was adopted 05 July 1990. The flag was described in article 4 of Title 1 (The Territory and sovereignty of the Republic) as follows:
Article 4: The emblem of the Republic is a light green flag, ornamented in the centre with a yellow circle in which a right hand is holding a torch with a red flame.
This flag was adopted on 19th November 1971 when the parliament adopted Loi no. 71-007 du 19 novembre 1971 portant revision de la Constitution.

In the first week of August 1992 there was already a legal move to get rid of the ’green flag with torch’. At that time a National Conference was held in Kinshasa, which task it was to give Zaire a new, democratic constitution. This National Conference decided to rename Zaire back to Congo as well as to go back to "the old flag". Already a few days later this National Conference was abolished by order of  President Mobutu.
Jos Poels, 19 May 97

As far as I know the lightest green used on a flag was in Zaire’s flag.
Ralf Stelter, 25 Jul 1999

I saw sizes ranging from 1 to 1 proportionally to1 to2.
Some flags had apple green backgrounds, Irish green backgrounds, dark green backgrounds. Some had red flames, orange flames, yellow flames outlined in black. I saw orange arms, brown arms, black arms, black torches, brown torches, badges so big they occupied almost the whole of the flag, badges so small there was no point defacing the flag to begin with, and it goes on and on. I reckon a third of the flags I saw had the arm and torch facing toward the fly.

All of the above mentioned flags were flying over government facilities.
Clay Moss, 17 May 2005

In Flags through the ages and across the world, Smith (1975) [smi80] notes that the original proposal for a new Zaire flag displayed a narrow red horizontal stripe above the central yellow disc, recalling the blood of national martyrs. A corresponding stripe below the disc was blue, to symbolize the rivers and lakes of the country. The stripes were omitted in the final design, which bore a modification of the emblem of the Popular Movement of the Revolution. The flag incorporated the Pan African colours of red, yellow and green. Green is a symbol of hope, faith in the future and confidence of the people. Unity is symbolized by a disc, whose yellow colour stands for Zaire’s extensive natural resources. The arm bearing a flaming torch graphically expressed the revolutionary spirit the nation aspired to; its red flames an honour to the nation’s martyrs.
Martin Grieve, 27 Dec 2009

Presidential flag

Zairian flag image by Marcus Wendel, 16 Aug 1999 (source:[tal94])

This is the Presidential flag of Zaire under President Mobuto.
Bruce Berry, 16 Aug 1999

The silhouettes are very familiar: The tank is a French AMX-13  and the jet is a French Mirage.
Dov Gutterman, 16 Aug 1999

See DR Congo - Coats of Arms for details on the coat of arms.

As others have noted, the flag is not in use any more. It was shown in Smith's 1980 [smi82] book and the text regarding it says:
"Presidential flag is used by the prime-minister in his office as lieutenant-general of Zaïre armed forces. On his car he uses the national flag."
The flag is provided ratio approx. 3:4, and marked as "alternation" (one of several possible flags used either simultaneously or under certain conditions)
Željko Heimer, 17 Aug 1999