Unita

Patrick Bond pbond at SPAMwn.apc.org
Tue Dec 28 01:14:54 MST 1999



If you want to imagine hell, it's being an ordinary Angolan caught
up in all this. There are more people disabled by landmines there
than anywhere, and now the Angolan army is engaged in pretty
transparent brutalities against civilians who are in their way to
Jamba and beyond.

For a left journalist (freelancing with Pacifica radio), another kind of
hell was being stuck alone in an elevator at the Heritage
Foundation in Washington DC with Savimbi and Jeanne
Kirkpatrick, in early 1989 I think it was. I had received some reports
from Jamba through our Pacifica contacts that S. had recently
executed several top Unita officers, which I think shook both him
and K. up when I enquired casually; at the subsequent press
conference Kirkpatrick went on and on about this Renaissance
Man with his "doctorate" from Switzerland; the occasion was that
S. had just come from Mississippi where Medgar Evers' brother
(mayor of some small town) had just given him a civil rights
"freedom" award much to the disgust of Evers' widow.

More recently I got an insight into how DeBeers has made
megabucks off the chaos in Angola, channelling billions of dollars
of diamonds out for S this past decade and more. One top Anglo
American Corporation I guy I had a beer with last year said that
unlike MPLA-controlled Angola, which is monetised (cash and
petty commodities circulate), most of the durable goods that get to
the ground in Unita-controlled Angola flow purely from S's
patronage, and there is practically no cash economy. My Anglo pal
put it down to S's "Maoism" but nevertheless said that from their
standpoint it was a terrifically useful way to ensure social control in
a dangerous neighbourhood, to borrow the title of Chester Crocker's
memoirs of god-playing as Reagan's Africa hand.

To debunk that crucial Savimbi-sponsor, by the way, you'd want to
read the radical Africanist Horace Campbell of Syracuse University,
who for a couple of years has been rebutting Crocker's account of
how the US handled S's project. Today, finally, no one at all will
have anything publicly to do with S. (not even grizzly white SA
mercenaries, we are "reliably" informed)... (unless, that is, those
mysterious Piper Cub flights continue heading northwest out of
Lanseria Airport near Pretoria without filing flight plans). But I think
The Hindu newspaper piece that Louis posted overplays the
problems associated with SA foreign policy in Africa -- which has
been relatively Unita-neutral, true, notwithstanding how many ANC
MK cadres lost their lives on that battlefield during the 1980s
(reason usually given: reconciliation and all that, but no one has
taken that seriously after S's 1992 election-rejection fiasco).
Perhaps there is indeed some coherence, namely a combination of
SA as subimperial puppet striving for first-world acceptance (a
Security Council permanent seat remains one of Mbeki's main
aspirations) and SA corporations' interests in penetrating the
tourism, banking, retail, beer-brewing, construction and mining
industries (not much more) across the region. I don't know what's
worse for working-class Southern Africans: Pretoria's economic
policy (free-trade) or geopolitics. (But I'm just about finished
documenting some of this for a Socialist Register conference next
month if anyone wants a longish off-list article.)

On 27 Dec 99, at 23:26, João Paulo Monteiro wrote:
> The latest news I have is that government troops have just taken the mythical
> UNITA stronghold of Jamba, in the south-eastern end. If true, Savimbi doesn't
> have a place to rest anymore. To keep resistance alive, he will now have move
> along permanently with small guerrilla units on the jungles. Very tiresome
> and very risky. If he choses to move abroad, the movement will probably die
> away, due to lack of leadership and morale.
>
> João Paulo Monteiro
>
>
>
>
>
>
>











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