When the South African government was committed to perpetuating apartheid into the future, there were few in the West calling for economic sanctions. Only as South Africa has embarked upon reform—an end to the pass laws; an end to bans on black workers joining labor unions; integration of sports, hotels, restaurants—has such a campaign been mounted. Indeed, the Johannesburg Sunday Times, a sharp critic of apartheid, asked in a 1985 editorial: “How has it happened that, at a time when serious reform is finally being introduced in South Africa, the country is facing a rising crescendo of overseas criticism, and economic sanctions have been introduced by America? . . . Perhaps it is because reform is seen by the well-organized anti-apartheid lobby round the world as a threat to its existence? Perhaps the whole campaign is [sic] more to do with America’s internal political maneuvering. . . . Whatever the reasons, it remains a fact that reformist South Africa is facing a barrage of criticism and activist opposition as great, if not greater, than at any time during Nationalism’s three-decade march through the age of apartheid.” A larger reason for the anti-South Africa campaign at the present time, so Professor Leo Raditsa argues in this thoughtful and comprehensive book, is that the African National Congress (ANC) and its militant allies fear that democratic reform will succeed in transforming South,Africa into a genuinely equitable society before they have the chance to impose a totalitarian, Marxist-Leninist regime upon the country along the lines of Ethiopia, Mozambique, and Angola.
What first attracted Leo Raditsa, a member of the faculty of St. John’s College in Annapolis, Maryland, to the subject were five days of hearings in March 1982 conducted by the Subcommittee on Security and Terrorism of the Senate Judiciary Committee, chaired by Senator Jeremiah Denton (R-AL) and devoted to the question of “The Role of the Soviet Union, Cuba, and East Germany in Fomenting Terrorism in Southern Africa.” Nine witnesses appeared, all black Africans, most of them former members of the ANC or the South West Africa Peoples Organization (SWAPO); their testimony and the accompanying documents make it clear that, in Dr. Raditsa’s words, “The ANC, SWAPO, the South African Communist Party [SACP] and the other terrorist organizations, and the Soviet and Eastern European agents active in southern Africa, dread most of all rebellions and defiant but politically innocent blacks caught in their organizations who want change and transformation but not the destruction of the South African government. They show that these terrorist organizations will do anything to break these blacks who love their country and their parents.”
All available evidence, Raditsa points out, shows that the ANC is clearly a Marxist-Leninist group that is financed, supplied, and trained by the Soviet Union and its satellite states. The ANC is in close alliance with the SACP, which is largely white. In an article entitled “The Two Pillars of Our Struggle: Reflections on the Relationship Between the ANC and the SACP,” Sol Dubla, writing in The African Communist, notes that, “Today the ANC and the SACP are embraced in the common front of liberation.” Dr. Yussuf Dadoo served as both chairman of the SACP and chairman of the ANC National Executive Committee.
And the same is true of SWAPO. Moscow hopes to achieve the communization of Namibia, Raditsa argues, though this terrorist group whose leader, Sam Nujoma, has expressed, contempt for free elections, declaring that SWAPO seeks only to come to power. He openly declares: “SWAPO will establish political connections with all the countries who wish to do so, but above all with friendly countries, such as the Soviet Union and the German Democratic Republic.” And under SWAPO, he has pledged, free enterprise will come to an end.
The report issued by the Senate committee after the 1982 hearings declared that, “Documents submitted for the record contain evidence of the training of large numbers of SWAPO’s ‘cadres’ in the Soviet Union, both in military doctrines and, without exception, in Marxist-Leninist ideology. The position of ‘political comissar’ is entrenched at all organizational levels of SWAPO. These men . . . are trained at the KOMSOL Party School in the Soviet Union, in the GDR and in Cuba.” In testimony which Raditsa found particularly compelling, Bartholomew Hlapane, a former member of the Central Committee of the SACP and the National Executive Committee of the ANC, declared; “No major decision could be taken by the ANC without the concurrence and approval of the Central Committee of the SACP. Most major developments were in fact initiated by the Central Committee.”
Mr. Hlapane testified that, “The military wing of the ANC, also known as Umkhonto We Sizwe, was the brainchild of the SACP.” The sole source of funds for the ANC’s military activities, he added, was the Communist Party itself, during the period that he acted as treasurer of the SACP. Other witnesses before the Senate indicated that, as members of the ANC, they had received military and political training in Angola and East Germany, as well as in the Soviet Union. Shortly after the Senate published its report on Soviet support for terrorism in South Africa (a campaign aimed largely at moderate blacks who seek peaceful reform, not at the government). Senator Jeremiah Denton reported to his colleagues as follows (June 20, 1983): “I had the painful duty of informing the Senate that one of the witnesses, Mr. Bartholomew Hlapane, and his wife were murdered in their home in Soweto on December 16, 1982, by an ANC assassin armed with an AK-47 assault rifle.”
As South Africa moved in the direction of further internal reform and better relations with its neighbors, the ANC increased its terrorist activities. Speaking on April 13, 1986, Winnie Mandela, wife of imprisoned ANC leader Nelson Mandela, declared: “With our boxes of matches and our necklaces, we shall liberate this country.” The “necklace” referred to is a gasoline-filled tire placed around a victim’s neck and set on fire. This method of “execution” has been used by ANC activists—not against white South Africans, but against blacks who seek peaceful reform.
Leo Raditsa laments that, while all of the evidence shows that the ANC does not want to share power with whites but seeks to take over South Africa by violent means, and that it is opposed by the vast majority of black South Africans, the American media has almost totally ignored this reality.
This is a powerful and well-documented look at what is really taking place in South Africa at the present time. It deserves to receive more attention than the hearings which motivated it.
[Prisoners of a Dream: The South African Mirage, by Leo Raditsa (Annapolis: Prince George Street Press) 467 pp., $25.95]