Apartheid goes to war

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Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! no. 3, March/April 1980

South Africa is the bastion of imperial interests in Africa. Today it is attempting to create the military and economic means to dominate the whole of Southern Africa. The massive rise in the price of gold, boosting profits and replenishing the racists' war chest, is fuelling the expansionist aims of the South African apartheid state. A war is on — a war between imperialism and the oppressed black masses of Africa.

For the past five years South Africa's racist regime has been expanding its 'defence' budget at a rate of 30-40 per cent per year. Two months military service per annum is now compulsory for all able-bodied South African males. South Africa's desperation and ruthlessness has grown as the long march to victory of the liberation movements has gathered pace.

Liberation movements gain ground

The first major blow was the victory of the liberation movements in Angola and Mozambique. The crushing of Portuguese imperialism not only removed one of apartheid's major allies in Southern Africa but also provided material aid to the liberation movements in Zimbabwe, Namibia and South Africa. In Zimbabwe in particular, ZANU (PF) and ZAPU (PF) are closer to final victory than ever before. South Africa has already made clear that it will do everything in its power to prevent the victory of the liberation movement in Zimbabwe. Inside South Africa the heroic struggle of the ANC(SA) gains ground daily. Threatened from inside and the outside South Africa is responding by intensified internal repression and open attacks on surrounding countries.

One statistic alone confirms the intensity of internal repression. Between 1976 and 1979 the numbers of hangingsper annumcarried out by the South African racist state rose from 61 to 133. In that period there was a total of 416hangings.

Attacks on neighbouring countries

The South African racist regime's attacks on neighbouring countries are also increasing. South Africa sponsors the reactionary UNITA movement which conducts attacks on schools, hospitals and Angolan civilians. Bombing, mining and other attacks on Angolan ports, roads, bridges and towns have been launched by South Africa. Thousands have died. In one raid alone on a SWAPO refugee camp in Cassinga 600 were killed, over 300 of these were primary school children.

In Mozambique South African planes have engaged in defoliation bombings laying bare agricultural areas. Shops, schools and hospitals have been attacked and bombed. South Africa sponsors the Mozambique Resistance Movement which is largely staffed by Portuguese mercenaries.

Zambia is repeatedly invaded by South African forces. Strategic bridges on the TAZARA railway, and in Mozambique, have been destroyed in order to force Zambia to rely on the trade routes through Zimbabwe.

In Namibia the South African war against SWAPO, and its armed wing the Peoples Liberation Army of Namibia (PLAN) goes on. Thousands of SWAPO supporters have been imprisoned without trial, tortured and murdered.

Throughout Southern Africa the apartheid regime is engaged in a vicious war to gain control and establish the rule of imperialism. As one spokesman for apartheid put it:

‘Our economic and political objectives in Southern Africa are to harness all natural and human resources from Table Mountain to the border of the Congo river.'

The aim is to convert Southern Africa into one vast colony, policed by the apartheid regime and robbed and looted for the benefit of imperialism. South Africa's major ally in this campaign is British imperialism.

British imperialism supplies the arms

British imperialism is deeply entrenched in the South African economy. British imperialism is also a major partner in South African expansion.

British imperialism has supplied the major part of South Africa's military hardware and the technological back-up. British Leyland supplied the Ferret armoured cars and the landrovers. ICI owns nearly half of the African Explosives and Chemicals Industries which makes arms and CS gas. The British Steel Corporation is involved in the South African companies which make the naval vessels and military vehicles. Rolls Royce supplies the engines for the aircraft. BP and Shell supply oil and technology to fuel the bombers, the tanks and armoured cars and to produce the napalm and the defoliants. International Computers supplies the computers for the border controls, pass laws administration and mass population dispersals. GEC-Marconi supplies the surveillance and communication equipment.  

By 1977 British imperialism had supplied nearly half the armoured cars, three quarters of the tanks and all the armoured personnel carriers. Most of the companies involved are wholly or partly nationalised. They have carried on their collaboration under Tory and Labour governments alike.

The death knell of capitalism

The battle for control — the war between imperialism and the oppressed black African masses is heading for a climax. At the centre of that war is the bloody and murderous apartheid state — backed to the hilt by British imperialism. Outside the borders of South Africa the liberation movements are advancing towards victory. Inside its borders the ANC(SA) is stepping up its war against the racist regime. On 18 February 1980 the South African regime reported the discovery of an arms dump sufficient 'to start a small war'. The arms dump also proved that the ANC(SA) has opened up a third front in its struggle. In its desperation the apartheid regime, armed with nuclear technology, is fighting on all fronts to defend and expand its ruthless domination and oppression. The stakes are very high indeed. As comrade Sean Mac Stiofain, former Chief of Staff of the Provisional IRA, points out in this issue:

‘… the utter defeat of imperialism and capitalism in South Africa ... [may] well be the death knell of capitalism. . . '

The working class in Britain has every interest in supporting the courageous and determined struggle of the black African masses. In their victory will be the final downfall of British imperialism. The comrades in the liberation movements in Southern Africa are in the front line of the struggle against British imperialism. Their fight is our fight!

Victory to the ANC(SA)!