Journal for Contemporary History - Volume 34, Issue 1, 2009
Volume 34, Issue 1, 2009
Source: Journal for Contemporary History 34, pp I –IV (2009)More Less
Hierdie spesiale uitgawe van die Joernaal vir Eietydse Geskiedenis is die tweede en laaste oor die Grensoorlog. Dit is soos die vorige uitgawe 'n eerlike poging om enkele perspektiewe te bied op 'n onderwerp waarvan so baie Suid-Afrikaners meer wou weet, maar wat vir dekades lank as taboe beskou is. Hierdie uitgawe sal beslis as 'n bronnepublikasie dien wat in die RSA en ook elders as riglyn sal dien om meer inligting oor die Grensoorlog beskikbaar te stel. Hopelik sal dit ook onduidelikhede uit die weg ruim en 'n stimulus wees vir verdere navorsing.
This special edition of the Journal for Contemporary History is the second and last one in a series of two on the Border War. As in the previous edition, it is an honest attempt to provide some perspectives on a topic about which so many South Africans would like to know more, but which was regarded as taboo for many decades. This publication will definitely serve as a resource publication which in this country and elsewhere could be utilised as a guideline to make more information on the Border War available. Hopefully it will also serve to clear up ambiguities and to stimulate further research.
Author Helmoed Romer HeitmanSource: Journal for Contemporary History 34, pp 1 –15 (2009)More Less
There is much talk today of "asymmetric warfare", with scant regard for the fact that it is nothing new: Guerrilla wars and terrorism have been around since the beginning of armed conflict. Also, few seem to consider that "asymmetry" works both ways: There is nothing that is quite as "asymmetric" as a tank driving over an infantryman. It is this latter aspect of "asymmetric warfare" that this article will explore in the context of the "Bush War".
The strategic contours of the South African military involvement in Namibia and Angola during the 1970 / 1980sAuthor Abel EsterhuyseSource: Journal for Contemporary History 34, pp 16 –35 (2009)More Less
Politically, South African military involvement in SWA / Namibia and Angola was shaped by the geo-strategic context of the Cold War, the direct and indirect influence of the superpowers in southern Africa and apartheid South Africa's will to survive. The resultant growing sense of isolation in South Africa was informed by economic and other sanctions against the country's apartheid regime and the ''us vs. them'' approach of both the white South African government and the black Frontline States of southern Africa. The sense of isolation was rooted in the very real threat of socialist and communist influence in southern Africa linked to white South Africans fearing that their western Christian-Judean value system and way of life would be overwhelmed by a black majority government in South Africa with Africanist tendencies. These threats and fears were coloured by the historical ties between white South Africans and SWA / Namibia. South African military involvement in SWA / Namibia and Angola kept both the swart and the rooi gevaar away from the South African borders.
Author Albert VenterSource: Journal for Contemporary History 34, pp 36 –56 (2009)More Less
In this essay the author identifies five political paradigms with which the Border War was analysed, criticised, attacked and / or legitimised. Making explicit use of the insights of Thomas Kuhn, the following paradigms were selected: the total onslaught, the liberal opposition analysis, the struggle critique, the technicist analyses and lastly the radical critique. The essay concludes that all the paradigms had a more or less underlying political agenda. The total onslaught legitimised the border conflict on Cold War grounds as a struggle against world communist domination. Its main anomaly was the apartheid state that it could not defend. The liberal critique showed the anomalies of the apartheid paradigm but could not convince the white electorate of its merits. The struggle paradigm defends the armed struggle on moral grounds, but could not escape the anomalies of its Soviet and Marxist backers. The technicists, while critical of apartheid, maintained their defence on mainly Western Cold War terms. The anomaly here was that it had to ignore or dampen down the apartheid background to the war. The radical analysts, while maintaining a sophisticated social science critique, could not escape their underlying political goal: that the apartheid regime was illegitimate and had to go. While some of the paradigms have been discredited, such as apartheid total onslaught, the understanding of the Border War in moral terms is still controversial and sustains the problematic of contending paradigms: that paradigms tend to be mutually incomprehensible. The essay also highlights the seriousness of contending intellectual constructs: that academic paradigms can also, and indeed often do, legitimise violence and warfare. They are not simply scholarly games.
'n Strategiese en operasionele beoordeling van die Suid-Afrikaanse Weermag (SAW) se oorgrens-operasies in Angola, 1978 - 1988Source: Journal for Contemporary History 34, pp 57 –80 (2009)More Less
The cross-border operations of the South African Army between 1978 and 1988 were politically extremely controversial. There were several reasons why the Army undertook them. On a security-strategic level the South African government wanted to prevent SWAPO, a Marxist-Leninist organisation, to seize power in South West Africa (now Namibia). On military-strategic level it was meaningful to take the initiative and disrupt SWAPO before its insurgents could cross the border to South West Africa; also to support UNITA in order to prevent SWAPO from infiltrating the Okavango and West Caprivi. These cross-border operations were successful in the sense that they prevented insurgency and helped to undermine SWAPO's morale. In the end SWAPO ruled Namibia; the country, however, did not become a Marxist-Leninist dictatorship but a more or less libaral democracy.
Source: Journal for Contemporary History 34, pp 81 –112 (2009)More Less
During the 1980s many events took place that were to change the course of history. In northeastern Europe the Berlin Wall crumbled in what many believed signalled the end, not only of the so-called Cold War, but also of the ideology and praxis of socialism and thus guaranteed final victory for "Western Civilisation" and capitalism. For a decade or more the world would turn towards a one-polar entity with the United States of America (USA) seemingly an indisputable force. In Latin America many authoritarian military regimes sponsored by the USA made room for social democratic rule. In the East the economies of India and China slowly but surely emerged as global factors and Japan became a noticeable military power among the highly industrialised states. Latin American states such as Brazil were preparing to enter the "top ten" economies in the world with the economy of the USA entering a gradual decline. Several transitions to "democracy", though slow and contradictory in nature, marked the African scene.
Source: Journal for Contemporary History 34, pp 113 –140 (2009)More Less
Southern Africa was ravaged by war for much of the second half of the twentieth century. Great changes followed World War II. Black consciousness and Pan-Africanism grew alongside and in southern Africa at least partly in response to the consolidation of Afrikaner political and military power. As South Africa moved down the path to ''garrison statehood'' and ''total strategy'', the liberation movements in southern Africa, invigorated, funded and supplied with arms by one or other party of the bipolar Cold-War world, formed armed movements with the aim of overthrowing white rule on the subcontinent. The result was an interconnected series of wars fought in Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe), in the then Portuguese territories of Mozambique and Angola, and in the northern part of the territory of South West Africa (SWA) (now Namibia), combined with an armed struggle against South Africa itself.
Author Jan D. BreytenbachSource: Journal for Contemporary History 34, pp 141 –163 (2009)More Less
By the end of 1976 the mandate the RSA held over SWA / Namibia had already been withdrawn by the UN General Assembly. Simultaneously SWAPO had been recognised, by the Assembly, as the ''sole and authentic representative of the Namibian people''. This obviously meant that, with SWAPO now taking up a ''legitimised'' aggressive posture, surrogate Cuban military advisors and civil administrators could ''legitimately'' deploy with SWAPO to make sure that Sam Njoma and his SWAPO hierarchy adopted the Russian Communist line for the ''liberation'' of SWA. Afterwards the same recipe would be followed for the ''liberation'' of South Africa except that MK guerrillas would take over the baton from SWAPO's PLAN forces.
Author Gert Van der WesthuizenSource: Journal for Contemporary History 34, pp 164 –180 (2009)More Less
The role of infantry soldiers in the Bush War has not yet been sufficiently recorded. The nature of the war was mostly undramatic, unromatic and anything but glamorous. Furthermore, in the new political dispensation it was not politically correct for ex-national servicemen to talk about their war experiences. However, they played a crucial role, expecially by their neverending patrols during which they had to fight against nature and the elements and suffer from fear, hunger, thirst and exhaustion. Back in their bases, boredom was their greatest enemy. No wonder that many of them still carry the scars of the war.
The role of the South African Air Force (SAAF) during the SADF's cross-border operations in Angola, November 1981 - 1982 : a historical explorationSource: Journal for Contemporary History 34, pp 181 –195 (2009)More Less
It was particularly during the late seventies and eighties that the various arms of service of the South African Defence Force (SADF), and particularly the South African Air Force (SAAF), were involved in several cross-border operations. The most well-known of these included: Reindeer in 1978, Saffraan, Rekstok, Lunge, Sceptic, Backlash, Bootlace in 1979, Butterfly in 1980 and Carnation and Protea in 1981. Seen from a South African military perspective, the SA forces achieved great successes, particularly during Operation Protea. The SAAF assisted the army in what was described as the largest mechanised operation of the SA Army since World War II.
Die Suid-Afrikaanse Lugmag se finale onttrekkinguit die teater van Suid-Angola en Noord-Namibië - die einde van 'n eraSource: Journal for Contemporary History 34, pp 196 –206 (2009)More Less
The physical presence of the SAAF in the Border War in Namibia was presumed to take place in relative peacefulness during Operation Agree. The unexpected invasion of SWAPO cadres on 1 April 1989 (the Nine Days' War) changed the military scene radically and caused the SAAF to find itself once more in the midst of serious hostilities. After the hostilities had been ended the last task of the SAAF was to withdraw graciously from a war zone that had been the home of thousands of air force men for 23 years.
Author Willem P. SteenkampSource: Journal for Contemporary History 34, pp 207 –222 (2009)More Less
The process which shaped the modern South African soldier can be traced back to a specific date - 29 February 1510 - when a short but bloody little action was fought on the shores of Table Bay between about 150 armed Portuguese sailors under the outgoing viceroy of Portuguese India, Dom Francisco d'Almeida, and a group of Khoina clansmen, about the same number, led by a kraal headman whose name has long since been lost, if it had ever been recorded in the first place.
Source: Journal for Contemporary History 34, pp 223 –236 (2009)More Less
In one of the most comprehensive works detailing the ''Border War'', South Africa's Border War, 1966-1989, the author, Willem Steenkamp, reaches the following conclusion: ''If the war proved anything, it was that although most insurgencies end in political solutions, he who has lost the penultimate military phase has no right to say anything when the armed struggle concluded not with a Bang but with the whisper of papers being shuffled at a conference table.'' These words of Steenkamp contain valuable insights into the actions of the South African Defence Force (SADF) during the last few years of the Border War. On the one hand, there were the militarists who wanted to fight it out on the battlefield and who were relentless in their efforts to catch the enemy unawares. On the other hand, there were the politicians who wanted to keep the electorate happy by announcing military victories - without any losses.
Source: Journal for Contemporary History 34, pp 237 –265 (2009)More Less
The air war above Angola elicits controversy as well. Radical leftist writer Barry Healy, for instance, states quite categorically (without trying to substantiate it): ''Angolan and Cuban MiG-23 pilots swept the South African Air Force from Angolan skies.'' In the same vein, Horace Campbell asserts: ''The Angolan radar defensive positions broke the South African air superiority, Angolan and Cuban MiG-23 pilots proved equal and even superior to their counterparts in the South African Air Force.''
Die Suid-Afrikaanse Lugmag se optrede in die teaters van Noord- Namibië en Suid-Angola 1983 - 1985 : 'n historiese verkenningSource: Journal for Contemporary History 34, pp 266 –280 (2009)More Less
In comparison with the preceding years the period from 1983 to 1985 was, as far as the action of the SAAF in the Border War was concerned, relatively quiet. The few big operations in the north of Namibia, as well as cross-border operations in the south of Angola, are analysed in detail. After Operation Askari a period of relative peace followed as the Monitering Commission was established. The action of the SAAF during Operations Boswilger, Egert and Welmesh brought an end to this. The hostilities built up to such an extent that the end of this period can be seen as the lull before the storm.
Conflict between South Africa and Mozambique, 1975 - 1989, within the framework of the Cold War and regional tensionsAuthor C.J. JacobsSource: Journal for Contemporary History 34, pp 281 –297 (2009)More Less
Revolutionary warfare was the most prevalent form of conflict against colonial and minority governments during the Cold War era. The strategies of both the insurgents / revolutionaries and the government would thus focus on the population and the international community as manifested in different dimensions of the struggle. The insurgents would try to create alternative political and socio-economic structures in order to turn the population against the government. The struggle in the international arena constituted two subdimensions, the mobilisation of the international community to put the government under economic and political pressure and the support of neighbouring states for the insurgency.
Source: Journal for Contemporary History 34, pp 298 –317 (2009)More Less
The term ''chaplain'' is derived from the Latin term capellanus, and evolved over time to denote different assignments in liturgical, administrative and diplomatic services. During the Middle Ages, one responsibility in this regard was that of ministering to those in the parish who lived inconveniently far from the parish church, and the modern concept of chaplaincy is analogous to this assignment: a ministry to people in unusual circumstances which may preclude normal church services, such as hospital, prison, police or military chaplaincy. A chaplain can therefore be defined as a member of the clergy, or a priest, who is ordained by his / her denomination to minister to a specific community. Today, non-ordained people are also trained in chaplaincy and appointed at institutions, hospitals and prisons to assist or replace ordained chaplains. It should be kept in mind that the modern chaplain does not become an inherent part of the community to which he / she is ministering. In the case of military chaplaincy, the chaplain does not become an active combatant. This in itself is an anomaly, because the chaplain is also a paid military official.
Military chaplaincy in the South African Defence Force during the Namibian War of Independence, 1966 - 1989Source: Journal for Contemporary History 34, pp 318 –338 (2009)More Less
Ghana's attainment of independence in 1957 initiated a period of decolonization in Africa which, in the case of South West Africa (SWA, later Namibia), manifested itself in the form of the Namibian War of Independence, commonly referred to as the ''Border War'' or the ''Bush War''. Hostilities started in August 1966 when the South West African People's Organization (SWAPO) and its military wing, the People's Liberation Army of Namibia (PLAN), intensified the liberation struggle of SWA by means of insurgencies across the Angolan border. By planting landmines, sabotaging telephone and electricity lines and intimidating the local population, they aimed to destabilize the South African administration of SWA. Initially, the South African Police (SAP) dealt with the insurgencies; but an escalation in the intensity thereof necessitated a transferral of the protection of the border to the then South African Defence Force (SADF). A full-scale war developed, which became closely linked to the Angolan Civil War and the Cold War. All branches of the SADF, including chaplaincy services, were involved in the military operations that lasted until June 1989.
Suid-Afrikaanse kapelane in 'n era van militêre konflik, 1966 - 1989 : enkele persoonlike ervarings en perspektieweSource: Journal for Contemporary History 34, pp 339 –360 (2009)More Less
This article is based on oral history and it examines the personal reminiscences of military chaplains during the Namibian War of Independence (1966-1989), also known as the Border War or Bush War. The following aspects were investigated: can war, and the Namibian War of Independence in particular, be justified; what was the relations and the quality of co-operation between individuals and the different denominations within the South African Chaplain Service (SACHS); did chaplains further the policies of the National Party and, finally, were there any benefits coming forth from this military struggle? Interviews were conducted with both English and Afrikaans chaplains from all three branches of the South African Defence Force (SADF), as well as with members of the command structure of the SACHS. Evidence was found that most chaplains regarded their ministry as an ecclesiastical calling and that they made a difference to the spiritual welfare of the troops. It was also determined that personality, principles and culture influenced chaplaincy services. Most chaplains justified the war within the context of the Cold War, but the trauma they had to deal with, convinced them that war should always be a last resort.