Louis Proyect lnp3 at SPAMpanix.com
Mon Dec 27 17:15:32 MST 1999

>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

Par for the course--a fascinating post on Angola from João. One of the
challenges that faces this list is making sense of all the internecine
conflicts that pit putative "progressive" allies against one another. With
the end of apartheid, one might have expected Pan-African liberation to be
much more feasible. As it stands now, the Congo is a war zone between
Kabila and guerrillas supported by Rwanda and Uganda, with South Africa and
Angola supporting Kabila.

In the meantime, doing a search on Nexis on "Mbeki" and "Congo", I came up
with this rather eye-opening item from the Indian press about UNITA showing
up at a South African mission banquet, while the MPLA was notable by its


July 10, 1999

South Africa has few friends on the continent

CAPE TOWN, JULY 9. Reacting to the recent decision of South Africa to send
its armed forces as part of a multi-national peace-keeping force in the
Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Foreign Minister of the DRC is
reported to have said (according to an SABC radio news broadcast) that
while his country did not consider that South Africa had played a neutral
role in the dispute in the DRC, it would nevertheless welcome South
Africa's participation in such an initiative.

The reaction raises some interesting questions about how South Africa is
viewed in the rest of the continent as, once again and not for the first
time during the prolonged talks in Lusaka, there is announcement of an
agreement on the cessation of hostilities in the DRC. The formal agreement
is to be signed on Saturday at a summit of African Heads of State.

There is little mystery about the hostility that underlies the perception
of the DRC Foreign Minister about South Africa's role and motives in the
continent. Put simply, most of the African countries - especially those in
the neighbourhood - continue to be deeply suspicious about the big,
powerful country to the south, "the selfish giant." South Africa's foreign
policy objectives are viewed as being not very different, in their essence,
from the foreign policy of the previous regime, marked by a desire to
further consolidate and advance its political and economic dominance. For
evident historical reasons, the old regime could not exploit the vast
market of the rest of the continent, except indirectly and in the few
client states it cultivated. The new South Africa has been far less
inhibited in this regard.

Even the most casual conversations with diplomats of other African
countries brings out this wariness, if not antagonism, in respect of South
Africa in the rest of the continent. One of the most telling instances of
such tension and antagonism is within the region closest to South Africa,
the Southern African Development Community, whose members resent what they
see as South Africa's success in entering and dominating their markets,
invariably to the detriment of domestic industries, while keeping its own
market closed to their manufactured goods.

This is perhaps natural because the aspirations of the South Africans do
not envisage any role for the rest of the continent. The rest of the
continent quite simply cannot provide the goods and services that South
Africans across the racial and political spectrum crave for, the culture
and value system they aspire for - notwithstanding the new buzz word,
African renaissance. Till recently, South Africa's leading financial daily
printed news about other countries in Africa on a page entitled "Africa",
lending weight to the perception that news about South Africa was part of
broader international developments and had little to do with developments
on the continent.

The current attempts to identify itself with the "highly indebted
developing countries" (HIDC) and argue that the proposed IMF gold sales
would affect "gold producers" among them (Burkina Faso is an example cited)
as much as it fears it will affect South Africa, is the latest instance of
this desire to identify itself with the "third world" even though South
African aspirations and mindset are thoroughly first world.

The contradictions are even more glaring in the political perspectives.
Despite the great sacrifices that the frontline States in Southern Africa
made in assisting the liberation movement, their relations with the new
South Africa are not happy.

The aftermath of the seemingly well-motivated intervention in Lesotho last
year presents but one of the several telling examples of these tensions.

Angola is another example. According to a recent report from Washington,
the presence of a UNITA representative at the official reception hosted to
mark the inauguration of the South African President, Mr. Thabo Mbeki (at
which the Angolan President, Dr. Jose Eduardo dos Santos was a notable
absentee) has "worsened the tensions between Luanda and Pretoria."
According to a spokesperson for the South African Ambassador, who hosted
the reception, the mission was unaware of the guest's UNITA affiliations.

This claim, even if accurate, is unlikely to assuage the deep suspicions of
Angola regarding South Africa's role in the Angolan conflict.

Copyright 1999: The Hindu. All Rights Reserved.

Louis Proyect
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