S. Africa sees communist plot in oil-plant explosions
Cape Town — The South African government and its supporting Afrikaans newspapers are blaming a communist plot for the spectacular sabotage of the nation's oil lifeline.
Saboteurs bombed two of South Africa's strategically vital SASOL (oil-from-coal) plants as well as an oil refinery June 2. The plot is seen here by the government as "part of the total onslaught against South Africa," not primarily reaction to its racial policies at home.
And when an opposition party spokesman suggested in Parliament that there would never be "real security" in the country until racial justice brought about internal peace and contentment, government members subjected him to a barrage of angry interjections.
Although the government accepts that the banned African nationalist movement, the African National Congress, was involved in the SASOL sabotage, it seems to be trying to give the impression that the ANC was more a pawn in the hands of international communism than acting on its own initiative.
For example, Police Minister Louis Le Grange claims that a key figure in the sabotage is a while South African exile, Joe Slovo, who is a leading member of the banned South African Communist Party.
Mr. Le Grange says Mr. Slovo has been based in Maputo in Mozambique so that he would be able to coordinate and direct sabotage and other attacks against South African targets.
Mr. Le Grange also claims the Soviet ambassador in Lusaka, Zambia, whose name he gave as Dr. Solodovnikov, plays an important part in planning African National Congress and South African Communist Party strategy against the South African government.
Newspapers supporting the Afrikaans National Party gave the communist plot theory a new dimension when they claimed in frontpage reports around the country Thursday that it was, in fact, Col. Muammar Qaddafi of Libya who was the brain behind the SASOL sabotage.
Their correspondent in Paris said that he not only trained the saboteurs responsible, but also financed the mission.
The correspondent claimed this information came from "Western intelligence sources."
The report said that South Africa is a prime target for SASOL-style attacks because "it is the only country in the Western world that could possibly withstand a total oil boycott" because its oil-from-coal plants would be able to produce enough oil locally.
The reports say there is no conflict between the government claims about a communist plot and claims that Colonel Qaddafi is involved "because the Russians have been using Libya for years as a place to train tertorists."
The SASOL sabotage seems to have hardened attitudes in the white political establishment.
As soon as the news reached Parliament, which is in session in Cape Town, a maverick English-speaking right-winger, John Wiley, who leads a group of three in the House of Assemlby, demanded a snap debate and attacked the government for its "gross negligence" and the "total breakdown of security" at SASOL.
He was supported by Vause Raw, leader of another minor opposition party.
But both Messrs Wiley and Raw joined government members when Ray Swart, the spokesman for the major opposition party, the Progressive Federal Party, suggested there might be a political lesson to be learned from the SASOL inferno.
Mr. Swart could hardly be heard above the barrage of outraged interjections when he said that the only guarantee of real and lasting security in South Africa would be the contentment, loyalty, and common patriotism of all sections of the population.