Hands off Angola!

Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! no 12, September 1981

Since the beginning of June, the South African Defence Force (SADF), with the complicity of US and British imperialism, has been engaged in a major act of military aggression against revolutionary Angola. The MPLA government of Angola stands as a solid barrier to imperialism's efforts to hurl back the advances of the southern African revolution. It has given unbending support to the South West African People's Organisation (SWAPO) fighting to rid Namibia of South African occupation. It has given its support to the African National Congress (South Africa). And using its rich oil reserves and rail network it is trying to eliminate the Frontline African states' dependence upon apartheid and imperialism. For its valiant internationalist stand, and in particular for its support for SWAPO, it has been subjected to apartheid's bloody war machine.

The SADF invasion of Angola on 25 August was preceded in June ny 175 reconnaissance flights, 3 airborne assaults, nine air bombings, five ground attacks and numerous kidnappings. Then in July SAIDF forces pushed 90 miles into Angola bombing food convoys and destroying the villages of Hunge, Camuola, Muandi and Conga. On 17 and 18 August, South African bombers strafed two civilian buses and on 23 August completely destroyed the towns of Cahama and Tehibemba. The imperialist press only took up the story of South African aggression when two militarised SADF columns moved 120 miles into Angola on 25 August. As the South African troops passed across the southern provinces of Cunene, Kuando, Kubango and Mocamedes, they killed, burnt and destroyed everything in their way. Using air force cover they destroyed whole villages, attacked hospitals, schools and homes, leaving hundreds dead and injured. The full extent of death, destruction and damage to people, to crops, cattle, water wells, bridges, roads and railways is yet to be counted, but already the Angolan Government has declared the four southern provinces a disaster area. At present, despite statements to the contrary by the apartheid government, the SADF is still occupying nine towns and continues its murderous assault on the people of Angola.

The damage and destruction which is being spread over Angola is aimed, in the words of the apartheid war-machine, to ‘... smash SWAPO military power ... '. The apartheid gangsters, with full imperialist collaboration, have been attempting to foist a puppet collaborationist regime onto the Namibian people, a regime obedient to imperialism and one which will secure Namibia's wealth for imperialism. But they have to first cope with SWAPO, the vanguard of the Namibian revolution. The attack on Angola is designed to try and smash SWAPO and its increasingly effective People's Liberation Army of Namibia (PLAN). PLAN has 15,000 operational troops in Namibia and in northern Namibia has established partially liberated areas. It daily engages, to deadly effect, in military battles with occupying South African troops. Since April 1981, 180 occupying forces have been killed, 15 troop carriers and trucks knocked out, 2 helicopters shot down and 3 military complexes destroyed. A South African officer was forced to admit that:

‘The enemy (SWAPO) moves in civilian clothes and operates at night quite effectively. The fact is they are getting to the people who feed and protect them.'

The SADF invasion is not however directed solely at SWAPO bases and supply lines which the internationalist Angolan government has made available to them. It is aimed at the very foundations of the revolutionary regime itself. Ever since South Africa suffered a humiliating defeat at the hands of the Angolan and Cuban revolutionary forces in 1975, it has conducted a constant war against the victorious MPLA forces. Since 1977 South African forces have carried out more than 400 major air and ground attacks against Angola killing over 2,500 civilians and causing more than £7bn damage to her economy. In 1978 South African jet bombers and paratroopers brutally murdered 600 Namibian refugees at a camp in Kassinga. In 1979, the major southern town of Lubango, central to the economic reconstruction of the south was subjected to devastating bombings. In June 1980 mercenaries and SADF commandos invaded Cunene province killing 378 men, women and children. The Benguela rail line, a major outlet which could take all of Zambia's and Zaire's exports, is subjected to constant sabotage, forcing African states to use more expensive apartheid outlets for exports. By means of such terror and economic destruction, the apartheid regime is trying to weaken and destroy the revolutionary Angolan government to install in its place the South African backed UNITA movement. The terrible consequences of South African aggression were described by Angolan Minister Lucia Lara, who stated that Angola had to devote:

‘... over half of its budget to defence. We are subject to 24 hour aggression. Hundreds of trucks that should be used for health work, education and agriculture are being diverted for the war effort and our best youth is being conscripted to fight.'

He nevertheless went on to declare the Angolan government's relentless support for SWAPO, 'whatever the cost'.

The real criminals — US and British imperialism

Behind the racist apartheid butchers stand US and British imperialism. The Angolan Director of Information and Propaganda was quite right when he saw 'South African forces acting as proxies for Western imperialism.' US imperialism which murdered hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese peasants and which is today supplying the fascistic junta in El Salvador, with arms to murder El Salvadoran workers and peasants, has given its open, unconcealed support to apartheid's war against Angola. At the United Nations Security Council debate on Angola it vetoed a resolution condemning South Africa's invasion and calling for comprehensive and mandatory sanctions. US imperialism's open support for the invasion should not, however, deceive anyone about the equally reactionary position of British imperialism.

One day after the latest invasion, the British Foreign Office issued a statement claiming the invasion was a threat 'to stability in Southern Africa'. Lord Carrington called on South Africa to withdraw her forces from Angola. These were nothing more than hypocritical words, a diplomatic flannel to cover up Britain's true role. At the UN Security Council debate Britain did not vote to condemn the invasion of Angola — it abstained. In addition, it is with British Buccaneer planes that the SADF is bombing and strafing SWAPO bases and the Angolan people. The South African invasion would not be possible without British landrovers and British technology made available to the apartheid regime. The apartheid regime survives to carry out its murderous attacks on the Angolan people, primarily because of the backing it gets from British imperialism.

British imperialism, as with US imperialism, has been seeking to undermine SWAPO and weaken the revolutionary government of Angola which pose a deadly threat to imperialism in Southern Africa. As part of their propaganda they have used the presence of Cuban troops and Soviet advisers in Angola—an alleged threat to 'western democracy'. This stupid propaganda has been given a boost by the apartheid regime when it claimed to have captured a Soviet officer based with SWAPO. Such reactionary and infantile propaganda will not wash with the oppressed in Southern Africa or Britain. The apartheid regime with imperialist military, economic and political support is waging war on the revolutionary peoples of Namibia, Angola and Southern Africa. Cuban troops and Soviet advisers, many who have left their families and friends thousands of miles behind to stand alongside the anti-imperialist SWAPO and MPLA are greeted as revolutionary comrades by the oppressed people of the area. SWAPO and the Angolan government need and deserve all the help, support and solidarity from internationalists everywhere in the world.

Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism!, fully conscious of the revolutionary role of the Angolan government, denounces the latest escalation of South African aggression. We stand fully with SWAPO and the MPLA and demand the immediate withdrawal of South African troops from Angola. FRFI further demands that the British government immediately ends all connections with the apartheid regime.

Victory to the Angolan People! Victory to the Namibian People! Victory to MPLA! Victory to SWAPO! Victory to ANC!