The Namibian Dress Rehearsal

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By Udo W. Froese JOHANNESBURG THIS is the title of a chapter in the book, “Unfinished Business – South Africa, Apartheid & Truth”, co-authored by the former deputy to Archbishop Desmond Tutu at the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), SC advocate Dumisa Ntsebeza and the Cape Town based writer, Terry Bell. They comment, “South Africa’s prime minister Jan Christiaan Smuts noted in 1947, South West Africa was inextricably tied to South Africa. Nothing but war can alter this association,” he said. And, by June 1987, “the largest conventional (world!) war in the world was being waged in Angola”. Namibians, Angolans, South Africans and Americans fought openly on both sides of the war. Countries such as South Africa, Rhodesia (today’s Zimbabwe), Cuba and Israel fought as surrogates of the superpowers. The authors of “Unfinished Business – South Africa, Apartheid & Truth”, further write, “The apartheid planners decided to make the best of the situation: they would use the emerging Namibia as a dress rehearsal for the sort of tactics they (in all likelihood) might be able to use to bring about carefully managed change within South Africa. They would then be able to retain their grasp on the levers of power while making major political concessions.” Originally, RENAMO was a creation of the British/Rhodesian covert operations in Mozambique. After Mugabe had formed the new government in Harare in April 1980, RENAMO was taken over by South Africa’s colonial-apartheid military with the assistance of clandestine British and former West German support. That tiny, illegal and illegitimate bandit group caused havoc in Mozam-bique. It grew into a substantial opposition to FRELIMO. The ‘RENAMO Operation’ cost “South African taxpayers anything between R185.5 million and R188.5 million in just nine months”. In Namibia, South Africa’s former colonial-apartheid Military Intelligence (MI) “had been involved at various levels with the Democratic Turnhalle Alliance (DTA), the attempt by the Namibian-based and (Afrikaner) Broe-derbond-linked National Party to put forward a non-racial face”. Their more aggressive involvement started after 1975, soon after the former Portuguese colonies in Africa, particularly Angola and Mozambique, were liberated. In fact, the imperialist, colonial-apartheid, occupational South African military machine “continued to back the DTA in their 1989 election, while the (South African-SWA) police, through ‘Operation Victor’, gave support to nine minority and largely rightwing and ethnically based parties”. And, funding was always extremely generous. To highlight Washington’s support of the colonial-apartheid occupier, the commanding officer of the US army, General Alexander Haig, was guest of the colonial-apartheid army of South Africa in Namibia. He shared a public platform with among others, the then chairman of the DTA, Dirk Mudge, at a media conference at the Windhoek show grounds. Today, the war has shifted. As observed in previous columns, international imperialism with all its resources, slush funds, media and civil society, created a huge and well-funded ‘reactionary force’ within the credible liberation movements, many of whom form today’s ruling parties and governments in sub-Saharan Africa. Such carefully structured, hidden destabilization is executed to divide and destroy in order to retain control over strategic natural resources. Their mercenary ‘political experts’ however, define such developments as ‘balance of power’. Every now and again, the sins of the occupational imperialist forces show up. In this case, the recently uncovered mass graves in the north of Namibia made headlines. And, the South African and regionally based media is at it again. Their half-truths, blunt lies and manipulative misrepresentations on the man-made tragedy of the mass graves are a case in point. A journalist in the employ of Britain’s Sir Tony O’Reilley’s South African based publishing house, ‘Independent Newspapers’, a certain Brendan Seary, lashed out at Namibia’s immediate past president and chairman of the ruling SWAPO party, Sam Nujoma. Under the headline, “Cynical power games laid to rest in Namibia’s mass graves”, the British Sir’s employee writes: “A few days before the UN-supervised Resolution 435 independence plan was due to take effect on April 1 1989, SWAPO president Sam Nujoma held a meeting in Harare with his close confidante, Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe.” Seary writes on, “So the message Mugabe apparently conveyed to his fellow liberation fighter during that meeting in March 1989 was this: possession – of territory – is nine-tenths of the political battle. Mugabe, I believe, would have advised Nujoma to get personnel across the border in numbers to show ordinary Namibians that SWAPO was truly their liberator.” That article in that foreign owned and controlled newspaper group becomes even more cynical when he carries on, “That, I believe, was what motivated the incursions, which was what they were as the broke SWAPO’s agreement with the UN to confine its forces to their bases in Angola. Nujoma cynically gambled the lives of his men to make a superfluous statement: SWAPO was to win the eventual majority rule election.” One has to merely read above wording carefully to understand that it is a desperate and cynical, racist attempt to firstly lump Nujoma and Mugabe, SWAPO and ZANU-PF together, however, without any values. Fact is, hundreds of people were unfairly murdered. Secondly, Namibia and Zimbabwe were two different situations. That ‘article’ is blended with half-truths and misrepresentations. South Africa’s media reportage on the mass graves in northern Namibia is a case in point. That essay actually reflects such reporting, exuding arrogant confidence. The journalist writes: “I know this because the then US Secretary of State for African Affairs, Dr Chester Crocker, admitted as much.” “Crocker, as I recall … was scathing about Nujoma and made it clear that Washington was well aware that such incursions might come.” So, the “reliable” source is US intelligence. One should not forget, that at that time in history South Africa’s Botha, America’s Reagan and Britain’s Thatcher had everything else in mind, but Africa’s interests. The British newspaper group in South Africa is not alone in its desperate attempts to misrepresent history in order to cover up the atrocities of exploitative forces. The privately owned media based in South Africa as well as the public broadcaster, the SABC, jointly all use the services of same “political experts” who form a “critical and democratic” voice of opposition in South Africa, Namibia and Zimbabwe. Those include Namibia’s Human Rights Organisation and certain media – all in the name of “freedom of the media” and “freedom of speech” and “democracy”. Former colonial-apartheid South Africa’s military machine and its holocaustic actions have to be defended by its backers and helpers at all costs – its continuous victim being the truth. At a rally in Katutura, Windhoek, on Sunday, 27 November 2005, the founding president of SWAPO, Sam Nujoma, stood his ground. He put the blame squarely on the former head of the defunct UNTAG, Marti Ahtisaari; South Africa’s administrator-general for SWA-Namibia, Pienaar; colonial-apartheid minister of foreign affairs, Roelof “Pik” Botha, and British prime minister, Margaret Thatcher. Nujoma explained, PLAN fighters were informed by radio broadcasts to hand themselves over to the UNTAG forces. Hundreds of PLAN fighters were in hiding inside Namibia. As the fighters came out, many of them mistook the former colonial-apartheid armed forces as UNTAG. When the occupiers opened fire, they realized their mistake. However, it was too late and to their peril. In addition to above, informed party insiders allege that South Africa’s occupational armed forces had actually been tipped off by a person in a senior key position within SWAPO leadership. They claim, that it was also as a result of that tip-off that PLAN fighters ran into an open trap. That seems a bone of contention to this day. Terry Bell writes in his contribution in one of South Africa’s Sunday newspapers, ‘City Press’, under the title “Namibian mass graves may open up can of worms”, “The South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) ruled that it had no jurisdiction over abuses that occurred across South Africa’s borders, but enough evidence emerged at its hearings for it to conclude that there had been ‘gross human rights violations on a vast scale’.” “Alongside the summary executions, torture and the disposal of the bodies of suspected liberation movement supporters, there was also widespread pillage, particularly of wildlife,” Bell exposes. The assessment of South Africa’s occupational armed forces seemed to be correct when they claimed that “without their intervention, SWAPO would easily have gained a two-thirds majority and the right to write a constitution of the movement’s own choice. They certainly laid claim to this assessment and Operation 435 seems to have been regarded by the South African government then as a success.” All above was executed to prepare the making of a “new” South Africa. Same similar strategies would just be more effective.