oa Scientia Militaria : South African Journal of Military Studies - Winning hearts and minds in the Namibian Border War

Volume 39, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 1022-8136
  • E-ISSN: 2224-0020



During the Namibian border war, South African counterinsurgency doctrine acknowledged the importance of securing the allegiance and cooperation of the population. This article demonstrates that, in the operational zone, the responsibility of winning the hearts and minds of the Namibian people largely fell to the SADF (South African Defence Force). Although the SADF dedicated considerable resources to this task, these efforts were often at cross-purposes with those of institutions in the political, police and administrative domains. In addition, there was a lack of unity and purpose within the SADF. This article argues that lack of unity between and within the different domains undermined the effort at winning the hearts and minds of the Namibian population, and must at least partly have contributed to SWAPO's victory in the 1989 elections.

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