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As South Africa marked 20 years since the first one-man–one-vote elections in South Africa, we have been subjected to an extraordinary amount of propaganda, inverting reality and rewriting history. If one was to believe films like Mandela – Long Walk to Freedom, and take at face value pronouncements by politicians and news commentary and documentaries on SATV, it would appear that the ANC won the war and were gracious and merciful to their defeated enemies.
In fact, the reverse is true. There can be no doubt that the South African Defence Force won the war. As a military force, the ANC's Umkhonto We Sizwe (MK) was a failure. So too was the Pan African Congress' (PAC) APLA. Yes, they managed some high profile terrorist attacks, such as the Church Street bombing and the St. James Church Massacre, but they were never able to defeat the SADF in battle. In fact they could only operate as terrorist movements, planting landmines, limpet mines, suitcase bombs, car bombs, engaging in necklace murders and assassinations.
Every time the SADF attacked, the Guerrillas/Freedom Fighters/Terrorists were defeated and the survivors fled.
The Defeat of SWAPO
This was also true for SWAPO in South West Africa/Namibia and Angola. In the 26-year war, SWAPO managed to murder 10,000 civilians, much of them by landmines. However, they were not able to hold any ground in South West Africa and even their external bases in Angola, protected by Cuban, Soviet and Angolan MPLA/FAPLA forces, were destroyed whenever the SADF attacked.
Decisive Victories in Angola
At the height of the Cold War, from 1985 to 1988, the SADF faced increasing confrontations with Soviet MiG fighter bomber jets and Mi-24 Hind helicopter gunships and massive ground offensives by Cuban mechanised divisions in Angola. On every occasion the SADF decisively defeated the Soviet and Cuban forces.
Defeating the Soviet Union
General Jannie Geldenhuys in his book: We Were There – Winning the War for Southern Africa, documents the enormous Soviet mobilisation in Angola and the staggering losses they endured at the hands of the SADF. He quotes from Soviet Lieutenant Colonel Igor Zhdarkin, who was a participant in the Angolan War. Zhdarkin's book: We Did Not See it Even in Afghanistan! published by the Russian Academy of Science Institute for Africa Studies attributes the fall of the Soviet Union to the ripple effects of the disastrous defeats suffered by the Russians and their Cuban allies in Angola at the hands of the South African Defence Force.
The Beginning of the End of the Soviet Union
He also quotes from Jose Milhaze's book: Angola – The Beginning of the End of the Soviet Union. Jose Milhaze is of Portuguese origin and based in Russia. His first book's title was: The End of the Soviet Union. The second: Angola – The Beginning of the End of the Soviet Union.
The Soviet Strategy to Seize South Africa
Carlos Pacheco, a Brazilian historian who wrote the preface to Milhaze's book: The Fracas of Soviet Expansionism, concludes: "The first priority of the Russian expansionism in Southern Africa was not so much important in terms of materials, but above all about politics." He emphasised that it was the Republic of South Africa that the Soviets had their sights on. Angola was only the stepping stone towards the mineral rich and strategic South Africa.
The Lomba River
Chester Crocker, the US Assistant Secretary of State for Africa, in his book: High Noon in Southern Africa – Making Peace in a Rough Neighbourhood, reported: "In early October 1987 the Soviet – FAPLA offensive was smashed at the Lomba River near Mavinga. It turned into a headlong retreat over the 120 miles back to the primary launching point at Cuito Cuanavale. In some of the bloodiest battles of the entire civil war, a combined force of some 8,000 UNITA fighters and 4,000 SADF troops, destroyed a FAPLA brigade and hauled several others out of a total FAPLA force of some 18,000 engaged in the three-pronged offensive. Estimates of FAPLA losses ranged upwards of 4,000 killed and wounded."
A Decisive Defeat for Soviet Expansionism
"This offensive had been a Soviet conception from start to finish and senior Soviet officers played a central role in its execution. Over a thousand Soviet advisors were assigned to Angola in 1987 to help with Moscow's largest logistical effort to date in Angola; roughly $1.5 billion in military hardware was delivered that year. Huge quantities of Soviet equipment were destroyed or fell into UNITA and SADF hands when FAPLA broke into disorganised retreat. The 1987 military campaign represented a stunning humiliation for the Soviet Union, its arms and its strategy."
The Cost of Victory
At one hostile press conference in Windhoek, Colonel Deon Ferreira, the Operational Commander of Operations Modular, Hooper and Packer, was challenged to respond to accusations that South Africans had been beaten in the just concluded battles in Angola. He responded, tongue in cheek: "If defeat for South Africa meant the loss of 31 men, 3 tanks, 5 armoured vehicles and 3 aircraft, then we lost. If the victory for FAPLA and the Cubans meant the loss of 4,600 men, 94 tanks, 100 armoured vehicles, 9 aircraft, and other Soviet equipment valued at more than a billion Rand, then they won!"
Victors are Not Executed by Their Own Side
Facts are stubborn things. Such as the fact that supreme communist Commander for Angola, Cuban General Aranaldo Ochoa Sanchez, was executed by firing squad, less than a year later, in Havana, Cuba.
Visible Evidence of the Defeat of Communism
I have walked in these grave yards of Soviet tanks, armoured cars and shot-out equipment in Angola. I have many pictures of shot down Soviet aircraft and destroyed Soviet and Cuban tanks in Angola. There is no doubt about who won the war in Angola. The dismantled Iron Curtain also makes clear who lost the Cold War.
A Conversation with President De Klerk
Recently I had the opportunity to speak with F.W. De Klerk, the previous president of South Africa. I asked him if he had seen the Mandela – Long Walk to Freedom film and what he thought of how the negotiation process was depicted. Mr De Klerk smiled and said No, he had not seen the film and he was sure that it would not have depicted the negotiation process accurately, based as it was on Mandela's autobiography.
Winning the Cold War
I then asked Mr De Klerk if he could correct me if my perception was wrong. I said: "We are continually being bombarded with disinformation that the ANC won the war and Mandela was gracious to his defeated enemies. I had always thought that the opposite was true. We had won the war and our government had chosen to be gracious with our defeated enemies. My understanding is that after a series of stunning military victories in Angola, when we had thoroughly blunted and devastated the communist forces in Angola, with the Russians having withdrawn from Angola and the Cubans being withdrawn, as the Berlin Wall fell and the Iron Curtain collapsed, as one country after another throughout Eastern Europe overthrew the communist dictators who had oppressed them for decades, our government in South Africa had chosen to seize the initiative and initiate negotiations with the ANC and other black nationalist groups to seek a peaceful resolution for all South Africans."
Negotiating From a Position of Strength
At this Mr De Klerk nodded and agreed heartily. "Yes, that is true", he said. "We negotiated from a position of strength. The ANC had lost their Soviet sponsors and we saw an opportunity to seize the initiative and resolve our problems in South Africa by bringing about a Constitutional State, where the Rule of Law would guarantee the rights of all."
If the War Had Continued
Mr De Klerk then smiled and said: "If we had wanted to, the National Party could still be the government of this country, and I could still be its president." Then he added, "However, that would have been at the cost of many more lives lost in the ongoing war."
I replied that there were many South Africans who would have gladly continued fighting against communism and terrorism, especially as even more had died from crime since, than had even died in the war.
"I know." Said Mr De Klerk, "But apartheid had to go. We could not fight for an unjust cause."
"My understanding is that apartheid had already been rejected by the white South Africa electorate in the 1983 Referendum. In fact your predecessor, President P.W. Botha had abolished virtually every apartheid law before 1989. We were not fighting for apartheid. We were fighting against communism and against terrorism."
"That is true," said Mr De Klerk. "However, that is not the way the world saw it. Until they saw a black president over South Africa, they would not believe that apartheid was abolished."
The Negotiated Agreement
"Mr De Klerk, do you believe that the ANC are being true to the agreement negotiated with your government in 1994?" I asked.
"No, they are not. We agreed to a Constitutional State where the rule of law applies, without any regard to race."
Set the Record Straight
"Mr De Klerk, there are many who are looking to you to set the record straight and remind South Africans and the world what was negotiated and agreed on in 1994." Mr De Klerk thanked me and assured me that he would endeavour to do so through his De Klerk Foundation.
The First Battlefield
Karl Marx declared: "The first battlefield is the rewriting of history."
"See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ." Colossians 2:8
Understanding the Cold War Context
It is impossible to understand recent South African history without understanding the Cold War and the very clear and present threat of Soviet expansionism and communist revolution.
The Defeat of Communism Led to Free Elections
The defeat of the Soviet forces in Angola, Afghanistan, Nicaragua, and the tidal wave of opposition to communism that swept Eastern Europe in 1989, which brought an end to Soviet control of Eastern Europe and the collapse of the Soviet Union itself, opened the way for ending the wars throughout Southern Africa and providing for elections in Namibia, Zambia, Angola, Mozambique and South Africa. This resolved the conflicts which had raged throughout the Cold War. The Soviet Union and communism was behind all these conflicts and once the Soviet threat was removed, all of these countries managed to secure internal settlements.
The SADF Brought About a Peaceful Resolution
It was after the South African Defence Force's decisive military victories in the field that the National Party government decided to release Nelson Mandela and other ANC and South African Communist Party revolutionaries from prison, in the hopes of bringing about negotiations that would end the violence and international isolation against South Africa.
This is quite the reverse of what the state media and school textbooks would have us believe.
"Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter." Isaiah 5:20
"Acquitting the guilty and condemning the innocent – the Lord detests them both." Proverbs 17:15
Dr. Peter Hammond
P.O. Box 74 Newlands 7725
Cape Town South Africa