Abandoned by allies, deserted by his generals and despised by his people, he fled first to Togo before taking refuge in Morocco with his old friend King Hassan II.
After being hospitalised with prostate cancer, Mobutu died on September 7, 1997 at the age of 66.
Exactly two decades on and Mobutu’s bones remain buried far from the land of his ancestors.
“For the Congolese authorities, the body of President Mobutu should not remain in Morocco. It should be repatriated,” the Kinshasa government’s spokesman, Lambert Mende, told AFP.
“But there’s an internal row within the family. The government cannot undertake anything in this matter without the family.”
As for the Mobutu family, which shuns the media, there has been no word on any reburial plan or of any 20th anniversary memorial.
The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) this year marked 57 years of independence.
The DRC is currently perilously close to the status of a failed state.
Former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan recently suggested that the country is in grave danger after President Joseph Kabila’s delaying of the elections that should have taken place in 2016.
Mr Annan’s warning is timely.
President Kabila’s struggle to stay in power beyond his mandate has accelerated conflicts in the country.
Although large portions of the Congo are peaceful, the northeastern parts of the country have been in a state of low-level conflict since the end of the Cold War.
There remains a dizzying array of armed groups present in the DRC to this day.
But currently the most significant violence is the ongoing uprising in the central Kasai province – the Kamwina Nsapu rebellion.
Named after its former leader, the armed opposition has already led to the decapitation of more than forty policemen and has claimed the lives of over 3,000 people.
Over 20,000 Congolese refugees have fled into Angola.