With Cuban reinforcements, the Angolans withstood major assaults on 23 January, 25 February and 23 March. The Boars were repulsed with heavy losses, and the Angolan and Cuban forces seized the military initiative. This initiative changed the military, political, and diplomatic balance in the region. The SADF had become emboldened to embark on a massive destabilization of Southern Africa After the coming to power of the Reagan administration in 1981 and the encouragement and attempted enforcement of the principles of “constructive engagement,”. This constructive engagement was about destabilization of the Southern regions, in the form of a low-intensity war in Mozambique and an open, conventional war in Angola. There was a counterinsurgency war against the Namibian peoples, and in Azania itself the troops of the SADF occupied the African township. The SADF was overstretched and its offensive in Angola brought to the forefront the limitations of an army fighting without moral support at home and abroad.
The Cuban and Angolan forces were aligned with the African National Congress (ANC) of South Africa and the South West African Peoples Organization (SWAPO) of Namibia. For the first time since 1981, the Angolan army was able to reoccupy the area adjacent to Namibia. So confident were the Angolans and Cubans that in the space of less than three months they built two airstrips to consolidate their recapture of the southern province of Cunene. Trapped by the rainy season, bogged down by the terrain, and encircled, the South Africans made one desperate attempt to break out on 27 June and were again defeated. One South African newspaper called the defeat “a crushing humiliation.” The Cuban and Angolan forces were aligned with the African National Congress (ANC) of South Africa and the South West African Peoples Organization (SWAPO) of Namibia. For the first time since 1981, the Angolan army was able to reoccupy the area adjacent to Namibia. So confident were the Angolans and Cubans that in the space of less than three months they built two airstrips to consolidate their recapture of the southern province of Cunene. Trapped by the rainy season, bogged down by the terrain, and encircled, the South Africans made one desperate attempt to break out on 27 June and were again defeated. One South African newspaper called the defeat “a crushing humiliation.”
Failing to take Cuito Cuanavale with over 9,000 soldiers, even after announcing that it had done so, losing air superiority, and faced with mutinies among enlisted “knee-grow” troops and a high casualty rate among Anglo-Saxons, the the government of the settler invaders reached such a desperate situation that President Botha had to fly to the war zone when the operational command of the SADF broke down.
The wars were followed by diplomatic initiatives that the settler invaders had previously been able to block. After the 23 March reversals at Cuito Cuanavale, the Boars started talks that culminated in the 22 December agreement on the implementation of Resolution 435 of the Security Council of the United Nations, laying the steps for the recovery of the independence of Namibia. A year later, in the February 1990, the government of the settler invaders released Nelson Mandel and unbanned the African National Congress (ANC) and the other liberation movements in South Africa. In 2007, the Angolan president paid homage to the more than 300,000 Cuban troops and nearly 50,000 civilian internationalists who have performed service in that African nation. In 1976, Cuban troops were decisive in defeating US-backed troops and South African forces posed against full Angolan independence.
Jonas Savimbi: Judas in the bush
The withdrawal of the SADF from Angola did not end the war. The army of UNITA continued fighting. There was a peace accord in 1991 leading to elections in September 1992. The party of UNITA lost the elections and returned to war. Twelve years after Cuito Cuanavale the Angolan society was still mired in warfare. And they would not see any true resolution as long as America Inc. and it’s European sister countries and the UN continued to use “Judas” Savimbi as an agent of destabilization and prevention of true African democracy and liberation in Angola. Since winning its sovereignty, Angola’s economy had undergone a period of transformation, moving from the disarray caused by a quarter century of civil war to being the fastest growing economy in Africa and one of the fastest in the world. Growth in the country almost entirely driven by rising oil production, which is close 2 million barrels per day. Control in that oil industry is consolidated in a conglomerate that is owned by the Angolan government.
Jonas Savimbi inserted himself into the Angolan political scene in the late sixties as an anti colonialist crusader. Failing to outsmart his rivals and grasp power when the colonial masters left in 1975, Savimbi and his followers went into the bush to wage war against the MPLA government then led by Dr. Neto. The war was later to transform Savimbi into Africa’s great traitor (he allied himself with Apartheid South Africa), and a psychopathic butcher. Savimbi is largely to blame for the perpetuation of the Angolan civil war. He rejected the results of free and fair elections organized by the international community in 1992 because he was the loser. He violated the Lusaka accord of 1995 and rejected the post of Vice president offered to him by Dos Santos (Angolan president). In 1996. Savimbi placed obstacles on every negotiation and invented all the excuses to justify his preference for the rule of the gun. In effect, he realized that he could protect his selfish interests better when his country was at war than at peacetime. Savimbi was not only a warlord. He was a bandit and an outlaw heading a criminal organization that depended on what the United Nations termed “Conflict Diamonds” for survival.
According to a 1999 BBC News Online report, Angola has the greatest concentration of land mines in the world. The 15 million land mines (one mine to every Angolan) scattered all over the country effectively render a third of the land unusable. There are 70,000 Angolans believed to have lost limbs to land mines, and close to a million that have perished due to the war. Angola is a country with close to 4 million internally displaced people many of whom are homeless. Savimbi ran the part of the country under his control as a personal fiefdom and profited from that to loot diamonds and sell. The U.K. based Global Witness Ltd. reported that diamond production generated $ 3.7 billion in revenue for Savimbi’s UNITA between 1992 and 1998. This represented 60-70% of Angola’s total diamond production.
He was sponsored by the CIA in the seventies to counter Soviet influence on the continent. In the eighties, Ronald Reagan embraced him as ‘friend’ and ‘freedom fighter’ as well as a thief and murderer in the nineties. It was only when his excess soon became such an embarrassment then America Inc.’s ‘friend’ caused a policy review paving the way for the Clinton administration to recognize the government of José Eduardo Dos Santos. Savimbi’s UNITA is currently suspected of having shady diamond deals with Al Qaeda. The government in Washington was working hard to confirm the Al Qaeda link as an excuse to justify shedding, for their departed former comrade.
The death of Jonas Savimbi in 2002 was seriously welcomed with joy by the teeming millions of Angola’s wasted generation and proponents of African liberation. After 26 years of civil war the people hoped that the U.S. government and all those involved in the genesis of the Angolan saga would continue to keep their pilfering hands of Africa and the people use this opportunity to find a lasting peace. Unfortunately stories like the movie Blood Diamonds tell a more realistic story of Multinationals and big corporations popping up in the background of poor mineral rich countries or those with strategic geo-political use.