S. Africa denies hits on black neighbors
Johannesburg — Charges that South Africa is exporting violence to neighboring countries are growing. South Africa complains, with perhaps some justification, that it is routinely blamed for virtually every ill in the southern Africa region.
But rarely have the complaints been as serious as they are now, ranging from armed invasions to assassination attempts to bomb attacks, allegedly perpetrated either by the South African government or right-wing whites operating from within the republic.
The United Nations Security Council has warned South Africa to pull its troops out of neighboring Angola, after complaints from that country of the presence of an invasion force of some 3,000 South African soldiers in Angola's southern provinces.
The Angolan government claimed more than 300 civilians had been killed and more than 250 wounded at the hands of South African troops.
South Africa earlier conceded it sent a troop contingent into Angola to attack bases of the South-West Africa People's Organization (SWAPO). SWAPO is fighting a guerrilla war for control of Namibia (South-West Africa), a disputed territory currently controlled by South Africa.
But South African government spokesmen hotly deny the Angolan charges, claiming there are only a few South African troops in Angola engaged in "follow-up" operations against SWAPO.
The UN resolution was adopted by 12 members of the 15-member Security Council (with France, Britain, and the United States abstaining) and accused South Africa of "wanton acts of aggression." That prompted South African Foreign Affairs Secretary Brand Fourie to snipe that "facts do not count with the UN."
The fledgling state of Zimbabwe (formerly Rhodesia) also has leveled charges that white extremists from South Africa planned an assassination plot during the Zimbabwe independence ceremonies last April.
Zimbabwe's Minister of State Emmerson Munangagwa charged in the capital city of Salisbury that the plot involved the smuggling of limpet mines, heat-seeking missiles, and high explosives into Zimbabwe on the eve of independence. He claimed the weaponry would have been used to launch an attack during independence ceremonies at an athletic stadium.
The prime target was alleged to be Zimbabwe's Prime Minister Robert Mugabe; but a number of other dignitaries -- including Britain's Prince Charles, India's Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, and several other heads of state -- also attended the ceremonies.
Displaying the weaponry in a press conference, Mr. Munangagwa charged that right-wing white Rhodesians now living in South Africa were behind the plot. He stopped short of accusing the South African government of complicity in the venture, but said that South Africa is involved in recruiting whites in Zimbabwe for military purposes.
South African government sources make light of the alleged plot: Foreign Affairs Secretary Fourie reportedly said, "We have one motto -- never to get involved in nonsense. As far as we are concerned these claims are ridiculous."
Similarly, the South African government has not commented on charges by South African exiles that this country's security police were behind bomb blasts earlier this month in nearby Lesotho and Swaziland. The explosions were at the homes of South African exiles who are active in the banned African National Congress (ANC).
In the blasts in Manzini, Swaziland, two people were killed. In an explosion in Maseru, Lesotho, one man -- alleged to have been involved in planting the bomb -- suffered injuries.
Lesotho officials claim South Africa is involved in a systematic campaign to destabilize the black independent states of southern Africa. Earlier, the Lesotho government displayed a number of weapons it claimed to have confiscated from dissidents, and charged they were supplied by South Africa.
South African officials deny they have anything but the best intentions toward their southern African neighbors, and point out that they hope to link them in a constellation of states for economic cooperation.
But they also warn that any nation that provides refuge for terrorists seeking the overthrow of the South African government can hardly expect the republic to sit idly by.