One should approach the subject of Africa with caution. Like a horse, it is dangerous at both ends and uncomfortable in the middle. 1981 has been dominated by continuing conflicts in southern Africa and in the Western Sahara, Chad and Eritrea. In northeastern Africa, past and present conflict has swollen the flood of African refugees to almost half the total number of refugees in the world, at a time when a gravely worsening economic crisis, exacerbated by unusual climatic conditions stretching over a period of years, has brought to millions in sub-Saharan Africa the prospect of death by starvation. The assassination of President Anwar el-Sadat in October was a dramatic reminder that Africa's troubles cannot be insulated from the rest of the world, that external dependence which ignores internal political and economic realities is dangerous-that there are limits to America's ability to control events in Africa.

It was a depressing scene for the new American Administration as it began to fit Africa into its global policies, but as the year progressed some shafts of light were breaking through. In African eyes by far the most crucial issue was, and remains, the independence of Namibia. After a faltering start American diplomacy was instrumental in putting the negotiations to this end back on track, so that by the end of the year international agreement on arrangements to bring Namibia to independence as a unitary state seemed once more to be in prospect. The outcome, however, remains dependent on decisions by a South African government that has swung during the year to a more hard-line posture both on internal affairs and in its actions toward its neighbors.

Elsewhere in southern Africa, Angola remains torn by civil war, and its future depends heavily on a successful outcome of the Namibia negotiations. The new government of Zimbabwe, however, continued to win respect-and some financial assistance-from the international community for the skill and compassion with which it tackled its delicate internal adjustments and the mature responsibility with which it recognized the sensitivity of the southern African situation, despite recurrent provocations from neighboring South Africa.

In northern Africa, U.S. policy was dominated by an obsession with the behavior of Colonel Muammar el-Qaddafi in Libya. Reacting against his irresponsible adventurism in Africa, and also reflecting the anti-Soviet tone that tended to dominate its approach to African issues, the Reagan Administration developed during the year an ever stronger policy of confrontation with Libya, while at the same time acting to buttress Egypt and the Sudan, on the one hand, and Tunisia on the other. Meanwhile the struggle by the Polisario insurgent forces in the Western Sahara continued unresolved, with the Organization of African Unity (OAU) attempting to take an active role in the face of mounting criticism of its effectiveness in dealing with the major internal African disputes.

On the political front, 1981 was marked, for the first time in many years, by the absence of any substantial successful coup until the Rawlings takeover in Ghana in late December. (The ouster of David Dacko from the presidency of the Central African Republic scarcely merits that title.) Moreover, limited progress was made toward more open government in Nigeria, Tunisia, Senegal, Uganda and even Liberia. Though some oppressive authoritarian regimes remain, there are signs that African societies are recovering their equilibrium after the traumas of independence, when they inherited systems of government divorced from their culture and tradition and for which many of their leaders had had insufficient training. It is hopeful too that at last the OAU feels confident enough to show greatly increased concern about the violation of basic human rights by some of its members. From the standpoint of American policy, however, the tendency of the new Administration to associate itself more strongly with authoritarian regimes, for geopolitical reasons, may raise increasingly serious problems.

In the face of the most difficult economic situation for more than 20 years, and anticipating the exhortations toward greater self-reliance in the latest World Bank Report, "Accelerated Development in Africa," there has been a resurgence of regional cooperation for economic development, with an emphasis on increased intra-African trade. The United States played its part in supporting new efforts in this direction, but again its tendency to act selectively on geopolitical grounds may place serious constraints on the Administration's ability to cooperate fully in these initiatives.

As 1982 opens, the reputation and effectiveness of the United States in Africa depend above all on the outcome in Namibia. Let us therefore examine first the course of events and the prospects there.


Namibia has been an issue for the United Nations, Africa and the West at least since 1966, when a resolution of the U.N. General Assembly declared South Africa's League of Nations mandate over the territory to be terminated.1 For all practical purposes the territory has until recently been governed as an integral part of the Republic. Its public services are provided by South African civil servants (mostly Afrikaners), its revenues flow to Pretoria, its official language is Afrikaans, its economy and its somewhat sparse physical infrastructure are integrated with the Republic's, and some 80,000 South African citizens are resident there. Its long Atlantic coastline extends strategic protection to the heartland. Its rich fishing grounds (until ruined by uncontrolled overfishing), its cattle and karakul, and its enormously valuable mineral resources have until recently more than compensated South Africa for the cost of administering and defending the territory.

Since 1978 the U.N. contact group of five Western powers (the United States, Britain, Canada, France and West Germany) has been engaged in tortuous negotiations with the South African government to find a formula for independence. Initiated by a group of U.N. diplomats headed by U.S. Ambassador Donald McHenry, negotiations were held against a background of escalating conflict between the South African forces and the liberation army of SWAPO (South West African People's Organization), operating from bases in Angola. At the same time, South Africa was hurriedly putting together an internal government for the territory, with a white-dominated center and regional ethnic governments.

By the fall of 1980 the U.N. plan for holding elections in Namibia, under Resolution 435 adopted in September 1978, was already in trouble. Prior to the election of President Reagan, South Africa had endorsed the idea of a working conference at Geneva in January 1981, and initially appeared to welcome that conference as a means to give legitimacy to the internal political parties within Namibia and to open up the question of constitutional principles-essentially measures to protect the white population-which the U.N. plan had stipulated should be discussed only after the elections. In the event, however, the South Africans and the leading internal party, the Democratic Turnhalle Alliance (DTA), used the conference to complain about U.N. partiality toward SWAPO. On this ground the South Africans declared that it was premature to fix a date for a cease-fire and elections in the territory. It seems likely that the South Africans had, even in advance of the conference, decided to delay further progress on the negotiations until the new American Administration's policies were clear and also until after their general elections due in April. The conference gave them an opportunity to expose the internal Namibian parties to some international recognition. They were not impressive.

There followed a period of uncertainty when it seemed as if the West had run out of initiatives. In fact everybody was waiting for signals from the new American Administration. When they began to come they were not reassuring either to the black African countries or to the European allies, but on the contrary seemed to justify the South African government's expectation that the new Administration would be more sympathetic to its view.

The Carter Administration, with its general helpfulness on the Rhodesia and Namibia negotiations and with the efforts of Andrew Young to place American policy decisions in the context of African concerns, had raised American-African relations to a level of trust and confidence not achieved since the pre-independence era of the 1950s. Unfortunately, the new Administration, both in its campaign rhetoric and in its initial moves, showed no interest in building on this foundation. It emphasized the discontinuity of American policy on Africa by an apparent "tilt" in favor of South Africa and by failing for the first six months to enunciate a clear policy on Namibia.

Thus, in a General Assembly debate on Namibia in March, the United States (and its European allies) voted against the rejection of the South African delegation's credentials, and abstained (again with its European allies) on a resolution calling for economic sanctions. This was followed almost immediately by more or less surreptitious, but well publicized, visits to the United States by a number of senior South African military officers and by Dirk Mudge, leader of the DTA. Statements by President Reagan about being "helpful" to South Africa, whose minerals are "strategically essential to the Free World," and of his intention to ask Congress to repeal the Clark Amendment (forbidding arms supplies to insurgent groups in Angola) did nothing to allay the growing alarm in African countries. On one occasion President Reagan even sought to reassure South Africa by referring to it as a "wartime ally," a remark that displayed a remarkable lack both of sensitivity and of knowledge about history.2 Moreover, at the beginning of March, six American citizens were expelled from Mozambique on the ground that they were supplying intelligence to the South African security forces. In response, the Reagan Administration suspended food aid to Mozambique for six months.

These and other insensitivities, the growing evidence of the strategic importance America gives to South African resources and facilities, the hardening of its attitudes to the Marxist-inclined states and the absence of any clear policy statement on Africa created the gravest suspicions among African leaders. At the beginning of the year it was not so much what the Administration was doing which gave offense, but its style.

The diplomatic gaucherie of this concatenation of obiter dicta, official pronouncements, and diplomatic signals may have been due in part to inexperience. It may also have been connected with problems the Administration was having in securing Chester Crocker's confirmation as Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs. His nomination was vigorously attacked by Senator Jesse Helms, and the outcome remained in doubt until May.

Then the South African elections in April produced an unprecedented vote for the right-wing Herstigte Nasionale Party (as well as a much less significant erosion of government support toward the liberal Progressive Federal Party). The palpable threat from the Right boded ill both for Prime Minister P.W. Botha's promises of internal reform and for a Namibia settlement.3 Although South Africa has always said it would abide by a free and fair election, during the campaign Botha categorically stated that "as long as there is a National Party government, we would not give over South West Africa to the authority of SWAPO."

Nonetheless, even before his confirmation as Assistant Secretary, Chester Crocker undertook a two-week tour of ten African capitals, to consult on a plan to break the Namibia deadlock. It was the beginning of a new serious American effort, albeit one which had been developed with minimum consultation with the other members of the contact group. From the leaked memorandum of Crocker's conversations in South Africa, America's objectives appeared to be to link any Namibia settlement to the withdrawal of Cuban military forces from Angola, an issue on which Angola's Foreign Minister, Paolo Jorge, stated about that time that when Namibia became independent and the aggression from South Africa ceased, the Cuban troops would no longer be needed and would go home. Crocker also appeared to be trying to clear the way to include South Africa in the U.S. security framework.

By then the African Frontline states were not interested in motives but in results. Provided that Resolution 435 remained the basis of the plan, they were willing to accept reasonable supplementations short of an imposed constitution, and they did not inquire what pressures or inducements the Americans had used in their negotiations with the South Africans. The SWAPO leader, Sam Nujoma, who had already agreed in January to a cease-fire under U.N. supervision, now stated that SWAPO "are prepared to give guarantees and safeguards to all white settlers in Namibia."

The explorations continued when the South African Foreign Minister, Pik Botha, visited the United States in May and was given assurances that the Administration would pursue a policy of "constructive engagement" with South Africa rather than one of "confrontation" in the search for a settlement on Namibia. In return South Africa was asked for a clear "statement of commitment" to cooperate in efforts to reach an internationally accepted independence settlement for Namibia, and for "a definitive statement of their core concerns." Foreign Minister Botha is reported during that visit to have rejected the use of a U.N. military force during the transition to independence but to have said he saw "a real possibility of progress" on a negotiated settlement within the new framework proposed by the United States.

Then, in June, Mr. Crocker and Deputy Secretary of State William Clark held further talks on Namibia in both South Africa and Zimbabwe. Concurrently the OAU, meeting in Nairobi, sharply criticized U.S. policy, and during the same period, the importance of a Namibia settlement was also insistently pushed by America's European allies, and particularly the members of the contact group. Notably, the only significant statement on a non-economic issue emerging from the July Ottawa Conference of the Western and Japanese heads of state concerned the importance of negotiations on Namibia.

By August it seemed that a "two-track" American policy was emerging with the dual aims of achieving a settlement in Namibia and getting the Cubans out of Angola. But the direct linkage between the two was gradually downplayed, as the European members of the contact group reportedly signed on to U.S. proposals for constitutional principles to be agreed by all parties, and Washington reaffirmed the U.S. commitment to Resolution 435 as the necessary framework for an internationally agreed settlement.

At just this point, however, South Africa elected to conduct a major military incursion into Angola. Confronted with a U.N. resolution condemning South Africa for the invasion, the United States elected to cast a veto. It was a low point for the year in U.S.-African relations.

Nonetheless, the U.S. veto must have gone some way to allay the "deep South African distrust of the United States" which Foreign Minister Botha had expressed to President Reagan and Secretary of State Alexander Haig in May. Moreover, as an inducement to South African cooperation on Namibia, the United States was by then promising future cooperation with Pretoria, and had stated that a settlement would involve withdrawal of the Cubans from Namibia; had clearly excluded Walvis Bay from the negotiations; and had emphasized the importance of South Africa to the maintenance of regional stability-and consequent limitation of Soviet opportunities. This cooperation could only be achieved if South Africa similarly cooperated in arrangements for an independence settlement in Namibia.

At any rate, in late September there was a dramatic breakthrough, with the United States obtaining the agreement of South Africa and the contact group for a new approach that abandoned any direct link to the Cubans in Angola but did provide for negotiations on constitutional principles as an element in the revised plan. From an inauspicious beginning the Administration had made a creditable recovery in establishing that American actions in Africa, based on a perception of America's national interests and global responsibilities, are not necessarily or invariably antipathetic to the needs and aspirations of African states. When it had made up its mind, the Administration moved on the Namibia issue with a decisive leadership which has hitherto been lacking in the U.N. contact group, showing a willingness to take risks and to exercise power.

In concrete terms U.S. Namibia tactics reportedly call for the separation of negotiations into two phases. In Phase 1, all parties are to subscribe to the statement of constitutional principles put forward by the United States and the contact group. In Phase 2, agreement will be reached on the modalities of the transition period, leading up to elections. The outline of the constitutional proposals are known. They include popular election to a constituent assembly which will approve by a two-thirds vote a constitution providing for a unitary, multiparty, nonracial democratic state with separate executive, legislative and judicial branches. There will be a bill of basic rights for individuals enforceable in law. By the end of 1981, agreement appeared to have been reached on most of these proposals with SWAPO, the Frontline states (plus Nigeria) and the less extreme of the Namibian political parties. A possible sticking point, however, is a provision for proportional representation-which could lead to a proliferation of parties and obstruct decision-making-and a call for representation of "different political groups"-which could encourage the entrenchment of ethnic separateness in the country.

If the constitutional principles are agreed this winter (as in the informal Administration timetable), the way would be open for detailed discussions on modalities, leading to the beginning of implementation of Resolution 435 in 1982. The outstanding issues have been the subject of discussion with South Africa since the beginning of its negotiations with the contact group in 1978. As laid out in Resolution 435, the agreement calls for a cease-fire, to be followed by the phasing out of most South African forces and the phasing in of a U.N. peacekeeping force that would be stationed mainly in a demilitarized zone on the territory's northern border with Angola. (The South African administration is to continue to govern the territory during the transition period, under international supervision.) The size of the U.N. force (now set at 7,500), the number of South African troops remaining, the time period for the drawdown of these troops, and for the electoral campaign will all be in contention.

Another main source of future problems is the South African government's insistence that the United Nations is not an impartial arbiter, and that the international organization should cease to recognize SWAPO as the sole legitimate representative of the Namibian people. Then the DTA may insist that a certain period of time elapse between U.N. dissociation from SWAPO and the implementation process. If South Africa wishes to move forward, these issues may be resolved fairly quickly, but if not, they may, as in the past, offer the occasion for lengthy delays.

Clearly, South Africa's intention-to obstruct or accede-is the key to the outcome of the American strategy. The signs can be read both ways. As noted, the South African government has maintained publicly and privately that SWAPO control of Namibia would be intolerable, and has demanded an agreed constitution giving cast-iron guarantees to the minority groups (mainly the whites) before an election. In no public statement has there yet been any withdrawal by the South African government from these positions, though Foreign Minister Botha has also stated that if SWAPO won a free and fair election the result would have to be accepted.

There are, however, some signals that South Africa recognizes that it has come to the end of the road. One such possible signal, paradoxically, was the invasion of Angola in August, which provided a counter to any accusations of softness by the right wing of the National Party or by the HNP opposition party. Demonstrations of machismo, externally and internally, appear to be necessary in South Africa from time to time to provide psychological reassurance to what is basically a very insecure society. If the government is about to agree to elections in Namibia, the result of which they cannot control, they must not be seen to do so from a position of weakness.4 (Significantly, the raid was similar to those into Zambia and Mozambique by the Rhodesian forces just before the cease-fire and elections there.) The Angolan raid was also designed to inflict maximum destruction on the SWAPO organization and communications with Namibia. In South African eyes, a military defeat would lower the reputation of SWAPO with the Namibian people. Moreover, the disruption of communications should reduce their activities within Namibia at a crucial time.5 The August raid, and a further deep incursion lasting 18 days in December, may have had a supplementary objective of strengthening UNITA's capacity to occupy territory in southern Angola in the hope of creating a buffer zone between part of Angola and Namibia, possibly leading to the installation of a more amenable regime in Luanda or the establishment of a puppet breakaway state.

Another hopeful sign was the visit by Pik Botha to Namibia's capital, Windhoek, prior to the arrival of the U.N. contact group in October. The purpose of his trip seemed to be to lay it on the line with the internal groups that this time around was the real thing. His message was not well received by the local political parties (who must have a lively appreciation of their likely performance in a free election). Reportedly Botha stated at the end of October that the latest initiative could bring a settlement, and that a failure could strain South Africa's relations with Washington. Finally, South Africa apparently has not yet raised any major objections to the proposed constitutional guidelines presented by the Western five.

A third portent of South African acquiescence is that Namibia is becoming more and more of an economic liability to Pretoria. The mounting cost of the war (defense expenditures were up 40 percent in 1981) now exceeds the revenues from the territory. At a time when South Africa's own economy is in recession, the drain of manpower to the frontier war is having increasingly adverse effects on industry, and the military are worried about the demands made on their resources by the rising level of internal unrest.

Yet there is still a long way to go, and time, once again, for the South African government to pull out of the process as it has done before. Much will depend on the reaction among the Afrikaner people in South Africa when the terms of the arrangements become known. Prime Minister Botha has developed a style of government which bypasses the consultative organs of his party on sensitive political change. There certainly has been no clear indication yet to the party or to the people that the government may be about to agree to a settlement in Namibia which is likely to bring to power a SWAPO government there.

If Pretoria does go ahead with the settlement, the ramifications for future developments within South Africa itself should be significant. If the loss of Namibia proves a bitter pill for South Africans to swallow, the result may be increasingly hard-line and authoritarian governance within South Africa itself. More optimistically, a peaceful settlement in Namibia which permits blacks and whites to live on terms of political equality might have an important positive effect on South African attitudes about their own condition. In any event, the direction of future internal developments within South Africa will of course affect the willingness and ability of the West to carry through on a policy of constructive engagement with South Africa.

If South Africa finally obstructs this significant effort by a conservative American Administration, it would bring down on its head the obloquy of the entire international community and create a demand for coercive action that would be difficult to withstand. Such an action by South Africa would create even more difficult problems for the United States. Unless America were to join with the international community in exerting the utmost coercive pressure on South Africa, it would stand accused of collusion with Pretoria. The alleged "tilt" toward South Africa, which can be justified as part of a strategy for change, would have to be clearly repudiated if change were not forthcoming. Thus, unless the United States could show that South Africa is being made to pay a price for its intransigence, U.S. relations with the rest of Africa would suffer enormous damage. U.S. withdrawal from further participation in the Namibia dispute, as promised by Mr. Crocker, will in no way assuage African anger. Such a course would be disastrous, not only for the future of southern Africa, but for U.S. relations with Africa.

On the other hand, because these negotiations are rightly regarded as an American initiative, if they succeed the United States will be accorded that measure of respect which Britain earned when it succeeded in bringing Zimbabwe to independence. It will provide an opportunity for a new and more constructive relationship between America and black African countries, which has been at a low ebb much of this year. It is not likely that warm relations of partnership based on shared objectives and values will ever emerge between the present Administration and the black countries of southern Africa. But a relationship based on mutual respect and open communication is possible and indeed necessary for the avoidance of costly misunderstandings when the post-Namibia situation in southern Africa is appraised. Let us return to the need for such communication in the concluding section of this article.


During the year the tilt by the Reagan Administration toward South Africa has been reflected in a tilt toward the Right in Prime Minister Botha's internal policies and a more activist hard line toward neighboring countries.

The internal security situation deteriorated substantially during the year. The closure of black newspapers and the banning, arrests and detentions of journalists, students and trade union leaders did not staunch demonstrations of dissent expressed in protest rallies, school boycotts, strikes (often politically motivated), rejection of participation in constitutional mechanisms (the President's Advisory Council and the election for the Indian Council), and a black boycott (with accompanying violence) of the celebration of the 20th anniversary of the Republic. Nor did the relentless pursuit of the program of forced relocation of peoples to the homelands convincingly avert the threatened breakdown of the influx control system which is the keystone of the apartheid policy. Heavy police action taken to control these events has led to greatly increased alienation of the non-white population, an ever growing proportion of whom (as reflected in recent opinion polls) believe violence is necessary to achieve desired change in society. Meanwhile the African National Congress (ANC) has stepped up its program of sabotage and attacks on government installations and police personnel (the Defense Minister admitted that acts of sabotage trebled in the first half of the year).

The business community, straddling the Afrikaner/English divide, watched these developments with great unease. In 1979 Prime Minister Botha had promised movement toward the internal reforms the business community considered necessary in the interests of an expanding economy-improved housing facilities, job access, black trade unions, realistic wage policies. In November this year the Prime Minister made it clear to the business community that internal reform is in cold storage. Said Harry Oppenheimer after the meeting, "The high hopes of two years ago have been followed by a general sense of disillusion."

There seems little doubt that violent racial conflict will grow in South Africa. For many years to come the government has the means to contain it-at increasing cost. However, it is likely that the conflict will spill over into neighboring countries leading to internationalization in a most dangerous fashion.

Already toward the end of the year there were signs that South Africa had decided on a policy of preemptive actions against neighboring black-ruled states. The raids by South African uniformed forces into Mozambique and Angola apart, the escalation of sabotage activities by the Mozambican anti-government guerrillas, the blowing up of oil refineries in Luanda, bombings in Lesotho, and a bomb explosion at the ZANU (PF) headquarters in Salisbury all had South African links, and, in the minds of most black Africans, at least South African government connivance if not direct participation. As the year drew to a close, the South African pro-government press had started a campaign accusing Botswana of being the "Southern African Cuba," which seemed to portend the extension of preemptive actions to that country.

The Reagan Administration has made opposition to international terrorism a central theme in its foreign policy, and African states find the lack of any condemnation of these acts of international terrorism by the U.S. government quite inconsistent with its own asserted principles. They believe moreover that the new U.S. policies toward South Africa have encouraged that government to believe that it can with impunity undertake violent intervention against the stability of neighboring Marxist-inclined states.

The festering unrest within South Africa and the government's connivance at (where not actually engaged in) attempts at sabotage and subversion in neighboring countries cast doubt on the reliability of South Africa as an ally or source of strategic raw materials for the West in any long-term global perspective, unless there can be a commitment to uninterrupted social and political reform. There is no indication from events of 1981 that such a commitment is on the agenda of the ruling party of the country.


In the rest of southern Africa, U.S. relations with the Frontline states continued to be important both as regards a settlement in Namibia and U.S. opposition to left-wing regimes. The major focus of Administration attention has of course been Angola. During the year the Administration repeatedly advocated the removal of the Clark Amendment prohibiting covert aid to groups in Angola opposed to the government. The Senate agreed in October, but the proposal was later withdrawn by the Administration when the House appeared likely to defeat it-or to vote down the foreign aid bill to which the measure was attached. In addition, Jonas Savimbi was permitted to visit the United States in November and December, and reportedly talked to officials at the Pentagon as well as the State Department.

However, the Administration insisted that its stand on the Clark Amendment did not mean that it was planning to send covert aid to UNITA, and stated that it did not see UNITA as an alternative to the present government, but rather as a factor which should be included in the Angolan political process. The pressure of U.S. oil companies in Angola also appeared significant in moderating the Administration's stance. In August, the U.S. Export-Import Bank approved some $80 million for U.S. investment in oil development in that country.

On the Cuban question, the Administration appears to have paid some attention to Angolan assertions of their need for the Cuban troops in light of their vulnerability to attack by South Africa. Though there appeared few signs by year's end of any intention on the part of the Angolan government to negotiate with Jonas Savimbi, the U.S. Administration voiced optimism that the parallel strategies of settling Namibia and ousting the Cubans would come to fruition simultaneously, with the Namibia settlement providing the spur for a Cuban exodus, and the prospect of Cuban departure providing additional reassurance to the South Africans. Because the extent of the linkage between the two issues-both for the Administration and for the South Africans-continued to be ambiguous, the issue could not be ruled out, by year's end, as a further potential obstruction to a Namibia settlement.

The other key country in this area for the Reagan Administration is Zimbabwe. The Republican Administration has embraced Zimbabwe from the outset as a potentially hopeful "moderate" biracial democracy. At the Zimbabwe Aid Donors Conference in March, the Administration committed $75 million a year over the next three years to the Salisbury government. While not hesitating to point out disagreements with certain U.S. policies, Prime Minister Mugabe has indicated his continued desire for good relations with the United States and cooperated closely with the Namibia initiative.

During the year Mugabe's ability to walk a tightrope between blacks and whites, radicals and moderates was put to severe tests by the South African government, which has been pursuing an increasingly harsh policy toward Zimbabwe, aimed, some observers feel, at the destabilization of the black-ruled state. Although the Zimbabwe government has not allowed the ANC to establish official representation or bases there, the South Africans are alleged to have organized the assassination of a prominent ANC official outside his home in Salisbury. Pretoria also unilaterally terminated a long-standing preferential trade agreement that gave Zimbabwean manufactured goods a guaranteed market in South Africa; refused to extend a lease on a Boeing jet for Air Zimbabwe; gave notice that work permits of 20,000 Zimbabweans working in South Africa would not be renewed when they expire; placed severe restrictions on the supply of diesel fuel; and began requiring visas for Zimbabweans, a process which requires 14 days. Most seriously, South African Railways withdrew 25 of its diesel locomotives in service with Zimbabwe's railways when their leases ran out, just when they were desperately needed to transport a record maize crop. A South African-aided rebel movement in Mozambique has also disrupted railways which transport oil to Zimbabwe.6

The failure of the white Republican Front Party to join in condemning these actions has led to a serious deterioration in relations between whites and blacks in the country, exacerbated by allegations of involvement by whites in planned subversion and sabotage-including the bombing of the ZANU (PF) headquarters in Salisbury in December. A number of whites including one Member of Parliament have been detained without charges and toward the end of December legislation was published which would enable the government to seize the properties of persons suspected of subversive activities. There has also been renewed talk of a one-party state.

It is too early to see in these developments the breakdown of interracial cooperation in Zimbabwe, but the white exodus has increased. If Mugabe is to maintain the precarious equilibrium established at independence, he will need a full measure of understanding and support from the Western countries which alone have leverage to influence South Africa's policies. Meanwhile the worsening racial situation in Zimbabwe may complicate negotiations on Namibia.

U.S. relations with Tanzania during this year have become exceedingly chilly. Possibly regarding Tanzania as a favorite of the Carter Administration as well as an unattractively "leftist" and ideologically hostile regime, the United States has displayed its pique by cutting its aid allocations in half, and leaving Dar es Salaam without a U.S. Ambassador for five months during the summer and fall of the year. The U.S. stance may be regarded by the Administration as a cost-free display of its ideological likes and dislikes toward a country where the United States has no real interest. Tanzania has, nonetheless, cooperated fully in the Namibia initiative.

The use of the U.S. veto in the fall to block the election of the Tanzanian candidate for the U.N. Secretary-Generalship was widely regarded as an extension into the international arena of the Administration's anti-Tanzanian posture. Mr. Salim's candidacy was unanimously supported by the OAU members and also by other Third World groupings, and the U.S. blocking action caused resentment spreading beyond Tanzania. The main beneficiary of this episode seems ironically to have been Russia, which is believed to have been equally opposed to Salim's appointment but which did not have to act publicly against the Third World nomination.

Finally, the United States has provided some support for the Southern African Development Coordination Conference (SADCC), which aims at economic development of South Africa's neighbors. The SADCC group brings together nine black-ruled states of southern Africa of widely differing political hues in a series of cooperative endeavors aimed at developing their resources and their markets on a regional basis wherever this can be shown to be economically advantageous. In little more than two years the group has been remarkably effective in raising international interest and funds (more than $670 million to date) and in preparing and implementing programs (particularly for reorienting patterns of transportation in the region). Their success in enhancing their internal economic self-sufficiency could be an important factor in reducing instability and resulting conflict during the period-undoubtedly troubled-of South Africa's transition to majority rule. SADCC could provide a catalyst for positive change and a focus for Western links with the countries of southern Africa during the difficult times that lie ahead.

The Administration's ambivalence toward the group's key goal of reducing economic dependence on South Africa, however, makes a more enthusiastic American effort in support of the group unlikely in the near future. Moreover, the Administration's country-by-country assessment of eligibility for aid seriously inhibits its capacity to play the leading role it might otherwise have in international cooperation with the group.


In North Africa, the Administration expressed its opposition to Soviet and leftist adventurism by squaring off with Colonel Qaddafi. During the year the Libyan strongman, who in June was elected next year's president of the OAU, continued to pursue an erratic foreign policy dominated by anti-Zionism, idiosyncratic revolutionary socialism, pan-Arabism, and the search for a greater Islamic republic. Supported by oil revenues received from America and Europe, he functioned very opportunistically, offering a kaleidoscope of financial aid, military defense agreements, political unions, and military hardware and training to governments, opposition groups and liberation movements.

Clearly, Qaddafi's political activities vigorously oppose U.S. interests in every theater where he operates-in Egypt, Sudan, Morocco, Tunisia, Chad, Somalia, Liberia, Angola. He has been an enthusiastic participant in the anti-Camp David "rejectionist front," and patron of various Palestinian groups, as well as of revolutionaries and anarchists in Europe and the Third World. He is also a member, with Ethiopia and South Yemen, of a new, anti-U.S. military pact, and has a wide range of ties to the Soviet Union. His military establishment is formidable in African terms and includes sophisticated equipment purchased largely from the U.S.S.R. but also from the West.

Only in Chad, however, has Qaddafi achieved a tangible military success, when in 1980 he intervened on behalf of President Goukouni Oueddei in the Chadian civil war. This was followed by the now familiar offer of a union between the two countries. (A similar proposal was made to and rejected by President Ould Haidalla of Mauritania early in 1981 when Qaddafi helped thwart an attempted coup d'état in that country.) Even though his intervention brought an uneasy peace in Chad and enabled a government recognized by the OAU to establish a measure of authority, this adventure, like so many others, is adding to Quaddafi's isolation in Africa as a dangerous dreamer and meddler, without advancing in any way his foreign policy objectives. His troops were too close for comfort to other fragile states and throughout the year there was agitation among the West African states for the withdrawal of Libyan forces from Chad. This objective was not facilitated by the support provided by the United States and its allies, Egypt and Sudan, to Chad's dissident ex-Defense Minister, Hissene Habré, operating from bases in Sudan-a situation not unlike that prevailing in Angola.

Rather, it was the decisiveness of the French that broke the logjam late in 1981. They offered logistic support for an OAU force to replace the Libyans and, at a Franco-African meeting in Paris persuaded President Goukouni to request the Libyans to withdraw. The Libyan response was impeccable. They withdrew (except from the uranium-rich strip of territory in the north of Chad which they have occupied since 1973) with an alacrity which was embarrassing to the OAU. Whether this will enable peace to be maintained will depend on the ability of the OAU to muster and maintain a peacekeeping force and on the withdrawal of external support for Habré.

For its part, the Reagan Administration has pursued a course of all-out opposition to Qaddafi since the spring of the year, when it expelled the Libyan diplomatic mission from Washington. Arguing that Libya's penchant for "destabilizing" its neighbors and further-flung adversaries cannot be permitted given the present fragility of the international order, the Administration apparently seeks to penalize Qaddafi for his "general pattern of unacceptable conduct." While some observers feel that the United States has overreacted to what is really a minor international annoyance, it also appears that the Administration may view its Libya policy as a relatively cost-free demonstration of U.S. muscle and will to take on its adversaries. Throughout the year, the United States endeavored to isolate Qaddafi diplomatically, and to confront him in a number of concrete actions.

In August the United States shot down two Libyan war planes in the Gulf of Sirte. The action was taken in response to the Libyan planes' pursuit of U.S. aircraft flying over waters claimed by Libya as its territorial sea but defined by the United States (and others) as international waters. The incident provoked loud Libyan protests, somewhat perfunctorily supported by other members of the Arab League and OAU. If Qaddafi had not raised so many hackles throughout the region, the reaction probably would have been stronger. Many African and Arab members of the OAU did feel, though, that the show of strength by the American Mediterranean fleet was out of proportion to the Libyan threat. And they sympathized with Libya's weakness in the face of U.S. power. Former U.S. Senator William Fulbright may have been speaking for many African states who have no cause to support Libya when he said: "Destroying two inferior Russian-made planes of a small primitive country raises the question about how responsible and beneficent we are in the use of our great power."

Then in December, the United States moved again. Stopping short, at least for the time being, of an oil embargo, the Administration banned travel to Libya on the part of U.S. citizens and appealed to 2,000 American workers and dependents there to leave. Prior to the U.S. move, the major U.S. oil company in Libya, Exxon, had itself decided to pull out. Other American oil companies are remaining in Libya, but assisting their employees to depart. The U.S. action followed increasing concern about Libyan support for opposition movements in both Egypt and the Sudan, after the assassination of Egyptian President Sadat. It also came swiftly on the heels of U.S. accusations that Colonel Qaddafi had sent an assassination team to kill President Reagan and other senior officials. (America's European allies reacted largely negatively to the U.S. action, opposing U.S. efforts to isolate Libya, and particularly the idea of an oil embargo.)

Despite his accession to the OAU chairmanship, Qaddafi's political successes in Africa have been few. Thus it seems possible that his potential for creating serious trouble in the region has been exaggerated by the United States. Mr. Crocker has described Libya as "a leading Third World arsenal of Soviet-supplied hardware." Whether or not this is an accurate description, Qaddafi's lack of military success is notable. With a population of about three million, he just does not have the manpower commensurate with his ambitions, and in this respect is greatly overshadowed by the neighbors he confronts in Egypt and the Sudan. Despite his demonstrated readiness to exacerbate already disturbed situations, internal events are much more important than Qaddafi in destabilizing the countries of the region. Further, Qaddafi's link with the Soviet Union is hardly that of client. Though Russia may derive advantage from some of his disruptive activities, the Soviets find him too impulsive and unpredictable to be a reliable ally. Russian suggestions that he should depersonalize his power base and develop a party cadre in the country have gone unheeded.

If the U.S. stance toward Libya is seen by its European allies as exaggerated or counterproductive, strains within the Alliance could seriously weaken its impact. Furthermore, to the extent that Qaddafi is increasingly seen as a victim of superpower bullying, his support in Africa and the Middle East would correspondingly increase. Thus the U.S. campaign against Libya may not be without costs, and the United States should begin to count them realistically before proceeding too much further down this road. America may already have achieved all the advantage available from a show of force against its small "radical" adversary-particularly during the coming year while he holds the presidency of the OAU.


Elsewhere in North Africa, the Administration's declared intention to support its friends against their foes seemed to be producing a shift in U.S. policy in a new "tilt" toward Morocco regarding its prosecution of the Sahara war. That war, pitting Morocco against the Algerian and Libyan-backed Polisario movement over control of the former Spanish territory of the Sahara (annexed by Morocco in 1975), saw both a flurry of peace politics and heightened military activity during the year. At the June OAU summit conference, Morocco's King Hassan agreed to an OAU-sponsored referendum on the future of the Western Saharan territory. Later, however, the King's commitment appeared questionable, in view of his characterization of the vote as a referendum of "confirmation" (of Moroccan sovereignty). The opposition within Morocco to any referendum which would separate the territory from Morocco is intense. The leadership of the King's main opposition on the Left, the Socialist Party, was brought to trial in October for its public opposition to the King's assent to a referendum.

In mid-October, the Polisario attacked the isolated Moroccan base of Guelta Zemmour in the southern Sahara, and downed five Moroccan aircraft, allegedly with new high-powered SAM-6 missile launchers. Clearly the Polisario's backers (either or both Algeria and Libya) had decided to escalate the military struggle.

The Moroccan losses were severe, and prompted a request to the United States for more advanced planes and weaponry to even the balance. U.S. Assistant Secretary of Defense Francis West, who visited Morocco in early November, reportedly promised to supply only what would be required to restore the balance on the battlefield (said to include training for Moroccan pilots and electronic countermeasures to help Moroccan jets evade the SAM-6 missiles). In the event that the United States does step up the quantity and quality of its arms exports to Morocco, it could be digging both itself and its ally into a deeper pit. For Morocco's claim to the Sahara is opposed by the membership of the OAU, which came close in 1980 to recognizing the Polisario as the government of the independent state of Sahara.

The OAU members view the Sahara as a remnant of colonialism, whose people have not yet been accorded the right of self-determination. Whether or not the Saharoui people (who and how many they are is a much-disputed issue) would vote for independence or integration into Morocco cannot be known in the absence of a referendum. In the present situation, however, both time and resources would seem to favor the Polisario. While Morocco can ill afford the drain of its meager resources (depleted by three successive harvest failures), the oil wealth of both Algeria and Libya enables them to finance the Polisario without undue strain. Unless U.S. arms aid is combined with urgent pressures on Morocco to move toward a peace settlement, the United States would appear, once more, to be committing itself on the wrong side of an open-ended conflict.

Again, in the Sudan, the United States has stepped up military and economic aid in response to allegations of destabilization by Qaddafi. The Sudan's mounting troubles closely parallel those of its neighbor and ally, Egypt. As internal opponents to the regime of President Gaffar Nimeiry multiply, the Sudanese economy has deteriorated into almost hopeless shambles. The U.S. commitment of $100 million in military aid and $100 million in other forms of assistance, the largest U.S. aid allocation in sub-Saharan Africa, would seem a drop in the Sudanese bucket.

In the Horn of Africa, the Administration has had some success in developing military facilities in the Sudan, Somalia, and Kenya to counter the potential threat to Persian Gulf oil from the presence of the Soviet Union in Ethiopia and South Yemen. To date the Administration has handled the situation with the delicacy it requires, notably in refusing to supply Somalia with offensive weapons which might be seen to threaten its neighbors, Ethiopia and Kenya.

These U.S. initiatives did not find much favor among most black African states, though many recognize that the establishment of the Soviets in Ethiopia makes the American response inevitable. On the other hand, regional radicals protested the U.S. policy by forming their new anti-U.S. alliance. At least on paper, the tripartite alliance among Libya, Ethiopia and South Yemen seemed to offer an increased threat to the Sudan and perhaps to Egypt.

For the most part, however, the Horn proved an area of unwonted calm in the region during 1981. Ethiopia apparently had taken control of the Eritrean population centers, driving the liberation forces into the surrounding hills, or in some cases, into the Sudan. It also retained firm military ascendancy in the Ogaden region claimed by Somalia. As a result of the Ogaden conflict, thousands more ethnic Somalis fled from Ethiopia into vast refugee camps (housing nearly 1.5 million people), where the hard-pressed Somalian government and international aid agencies struggled to maintain them. It is worth noting that during 1981 Cuban forces in Ethiopia have not participated in military activities in either the Ogaden or Eritrea.

Somalia's camps hold the largest group of refugees in Africa, but the continent as a whole (and particularly North Africa) contains about half the world's refugees-around five million. Compared with the stringent immigration controls of Western nations, African states have been remarkably generous to refugees, but this has resulted in sometimes overwhelming burdens being placed on fragile economies such as those of Somalia and the Sudan. Many aspects of national life have been transformed by vast influxes of alien refugees settling in rural areas or swelling the populations of already overcrowded towns. The security problem created by large numbers of armed refugees is particularly threatening to countries which can ill afford to increase their internal security expenditures, and it is sometimes compounded by the attitude of the countries of origin, which may regard the very presence of the disaffected refugees as a potential threat to their regimes.

The refugee situation is now of a magnitude and duration which can only be dealt with internationally. Thus in April the United Nations jointly with the OAU sponsored a conference to raise emergency aid (targeted at $1.2 billion) for the African refugees. The Reagan Administration pledged $285 million at Geneva as part of a $470-million Western aid package, and declared that the United States was prepared to admit up to 8,300 African refugees into the United States through 1982. The Administration evidently looked upon the commitment as a way to assure Africans that their continent is a priority for the United States: U.N. Ambassador Jeane Kirkpatrick pointed out at the conference that while most domestic and foreign expenditures are being cut, the Administration recommended to Congress a 30 percent increase in overall aid for Africa.


In the rest of the continent a measure of political stability reigned, despite worsening economic trends. All but a handful of sub-Saharan countries face intractable and severe economic crises. As the World Bank report shows, for sub-Saharan Africa as a whole the 1970s were economically harder than the 1960s.7 This has been especially true of the late 1970s. The "second oil crisis" has hit a majority of African states harder than the first. In 1977-78 a pattern of recovery seemed to be emerging, but this was totally reversed during 1979-80.

There have been specific factors in many cases. Violent external or internal political confrontations have hampered many countries' economic performance. Droughts in a wide arc from the Sahel across to the Horn and down the east side of the continent to Swaziland and Botswana have been endemic. National economic strategies have often been overambitious or badly implemented.

But the dominant influences have been movements in the international economy. For a number of African states, by 1981 it took twice as many units of exports to buy a typical import basket as in 1977. For example, the World Bank study concludes that of Zambia's 50 percent fall in real purchasing power since the mid-1970s, at least two-thirds were quite beyond the influence of anything Zambia could have done.

The economic crises have generally flowed from external trade problems aggravated by poor agricultural performance, and take the form of foreign exchange shortages, food shortages, and breakdowns in transport. Resulting import cutbacks are leading in many cases to economic strangulation. For example, Tanzanian industrial capacity utilization has fallen from about 70 percent in 1977-78 to perhaps 35 percent in 1981, with parallel decreases in road and rail transport capacity due to shortage of fuel, vehicles and spares.

The problem does not seem to be resolvable by conventional aid programs, nor by strategies and programs reflecting the predilections of donor countries. First there needs to be recognition of the magnitude of the crisis. Thereafter, if the West is concerned with stability and human welfare in Africa, it will have to enter into urgent discussions on responsive programs calling for the total commitment of donor and recipient governments as well as the backing of African peasants, intellectuals, industrial workers and enterprises. It is not yet too late to do this, but it would need a substantial reorientation of Western thinking for which there is not much time.

African responses to the worsening economic climate since 1977 have been laggard, but during 1980-81 a number of attempts at radical restructuring have been begun-mostly related to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank as well as bilateral finance packages. The negotiations have been marked by tension and suspicion. The IMF's emphasis on cutting demand seems to most African states to promise indefinite stagnation, not recovery, and appears likely to lead to social and political apathy or chaos.

The European Economic Community through the Lomé Convention has a special role in economic cooperation with sub-Saharan Africa (with the exception of Mozambique and Angola), and in 1981 great efforts were made to overcome the disadvantages of its ponderous bureaucratic procedures in implementing a basically constructive and innovative approach to resource transfers. But in spite of some imaginative mechanisms for compensatory payments for loss of export earnings, the Lomé Convention is mainly based on project aid and is not designed to deal with the most acute features of the current economic crises in sub-Saharan Africa, which relate to shortages of fuel, vehicles, food, fertilizers and manufacturing inputs to maintain existing operational capacity. Bilateral assistance too (including USAID) has been largely project oriented.

Renewed efforts to make regional economic integration work (ECOWAS [Economic Community of West African States] in West Africa, SADCC in Southern Africa and the new Preferential Trade Area of Eastern and Southern Africa) are also in part a response to the crisis. Apart from SADCC, however, progress in getting programs under way has been disappointingly slow and apparently too late to contribute toward avoidance of the catastrophe which threatens.

So far deaths caused directly by famine have been held to a low level except in Uganda and the Horn of Africa. This may not continue. Low agricultural growth, worsening trade balances and rather sluggish growth of food aid suggest that further droughts may lead to a dramatic increase in deaths by starvation and associated diseases in many countries of sub-Saharan Africa.

Not all countries were in these dire economic straits. During the year, America's key African trade partner, Nigeria, struggled with both the institutional kinks in its fledgling democracy and the economic consequences of the oil glut. Relations with the United States continued cordial, as the new Administration acknowledged (like its predecessor) the importance of Nigeria as the most populous African state, member of OPEC, and a leading state of the Third World. The survival of Nigerian democracy, modeled on that of the United States, may also be considered a significant U.S. interest. During the year ethnic complexities and intricate balances placed great strain on the Nigerian administration, as the demand for new ethnic states proliferated far beyond the capacity of the Lagos government to meet. Because of the two countries' many common interests-including a dislike of Colonel Qaddafi's activities and a desire for political stability in Africa and the Middle East-Nigerian suspicions about U.S. initiatives in southern Africa were played in a low key.

Another country of traditional importance to the United States, Zaïre, continued to experience shaky political and economic fortunes. A perennial problem country for the Western nations with mining and financial commitments there, Zaïre did survive the year without another invasion or attempted coup. The defection in April of Premier Nguza Karl-I-Bond, however, further threatened Kinshasa's international credibility. Despite a new three-year credit of $1.2 billion extended by the International Monetary Fund in June, and about $500 million in aid for this year from the World Bank's Zaïre consultative group of major donors, the economic and political conditions of life for the Zaïrois populace continue to deteriorate; the resumption during the year of the persecution and imprisonment of church leaders for their criticism of public corruption is ominous. The continued U.S. commitment to the Mobutu regime may saddle Washington with major bills at some future time. Further conflicts involving Zaïre are likely to prove particularly troublesome for the United States now that the French Socialists have declared their intention of ending France's role as gendarme in Africa.

How sharply French policy in Africa may veer from its former pattern remains to be seen. Along with their heightened interest in southern Africa, the French have emphasized the priority of political and economic aid, rather than military relationships, in their traditional spheres of African influence. French Foreign Minister Claude Cheysson has more African experience than any other Western foreign minister; he also has a deep understanding of and sympathy with African aspirations. Under his leadership the center for European initiatives is likely to move to Paris, and the resulting policies will not placidly follow the American lead. Cheysson's capacity to generate action has already shown itself in the French initiative to roll back the Libyans in Chad. In the Central African Republic he has demonstrated prudent reservations about military intervention-an attitude which may signal future directions with regard to Zaïre.

French divergence from the American view of Africa was expressed pungently by President Mitterrand shortly after his election in May, when he said that U.S. policy saw the Third World merely as a series of strategic points on a military map and instanced the U.S. rapprochement with South Africa which, he said, "shows no concern for what goes on in the rest of black Africa." These criticisms will find a ready acceptance in Africa. They place France in an unaccustomed role as Africa's friend in the Western court. French-American differences on Africa are likely to emerge with particular intensity if the U.S. Namibia policy fails. More positively, U.S. support for a peaceful settlement of the Sahara dispute could be significantly assisted by the French, who have close historical, cultural and economic ties with Morocco and a new rapport with socialist Algeria.


In both of its widely differing policy initiatives-in southern and northern Africa-the new U.S. Administration demonstrated during 1981 that it sees its policy in Africa as a projection of its power struggle with the Soviet Union. Though this one-dimensional approach is not shared by Europeans, West or East, on the basis of considerable circumstantial evidence it seems a fair assumption that the Soviet Union itself shares the U.S. perception that Africa is a proxy theater for the global power struggle; that the U.S.S.R. seeks not to compete but to exclude the West from large areas of Africa; that its immediate objective is to break the Western monopoly of international relations with Africa; and that it may regard political stability in Africa as the maintenance of a status quo in which it is disadvantaged. Africans, however, watch with dismay as this scenario unfolds in Egypt, the Sudan, the Horn of Africa, Morocco, Angola and Mozambique. It may be helpful for U.S. leaders to take a closer look at African perceptions of this superpower struggle.

Although African countries wish to be seen as individual states in their own right, not as pawns in a cold war struggle, they recognize the West's concern with the extension of Soviet naval activities in the Indian Ocean and the South Atlantic. They recognize too that the West regards continued access to South Africa's mineral resources as a key strategic necessity, and believes that the presence of Cuban troops and Soviet advisers in southern Africa is a potential threat to Western interests.

Africans share the West's desire for peaceful change and mutually advantageous trading: Prime Minister Mugabe and others have made it abundantly clear that they want the West to have access on reasonable terms to their natural resources. But the West's concern for peaceful change, in their view, cannot be confined to South Africa-a necessary precondition is the economic well-being on which the stability of Pretoria's neighbors depends. This requires the cooperation of the West, first in demanding that South Africa desist from all attempts, military or economic, to destabilize its neighbors. Secondly, the West has been asked to cooperate in the development of the black African states to reduce their economic and infrastructure dependence on South Africa.

The 45 countries of Africa sought independence because they wished to make their own decisions about choice of friends, social values, and life patterns. Clearly no African state so far has given up these rights either under duress or in return for material inducements. Any policy which ignores this fundamental characteristic of the African situation, which seeks to enforce an external political will on any African state, or to divide by co-option, will arouse the strongest opposition and will be counterproductive in the long term. It is therefore timely that in November the U.S. State Department published a memorandum stating that "Human rights is at the core of our foreign policy because it is central to what America is and stands for. Human rights is not something we tack on to our foreign policy but is its very purpose: the defense and promotion of freedom in the world."

The incorporation of these sentiments into official policy would require a reappraisal of the Administration's relations with countries such as South Africa, Zaïre and Morocco, whose strategic importance and open-door economic policies have attracted American support, but whose record on human rights leaves much to be desired. Logically it would also lead to a fresh look at U.S. relations with socialist countries such as Tanzania which, domestically and externally, give human rights greater priority. It would be a major reversal of the trends apparent in 1981 if the Administration were to pursue that course. Nonetheless, such a significant change of emphasis would substantially increase the moral stature of America in the eyes of African people.

Further, it must be recognized that the "linkage" theme in American relations with Third World countries severely limits the Administration's ability to adapt to developing situations in Africa and gives rise to inconsistencies and occasional absurdities, all of which weaken the U.S. potential for constructive engagement. When Zambia and Botswana go to the East to buy weapons they have been unable to purchase from the West, when Zimbabwe buys military equipment and training more cheaply from North Korea than it can from the West, Pavlovian bells seem to ring in Washington. In another example, the exclusion of Mozambique and Angola from U.S. aid to the SADCC programs largely nullifies the Administration's generally positive response to that organization and raises suspicions of a U.S. intent to divide.

Although the United States condemns South Africa's internal policies, it nonetheless moves toward a closer future relationship; however, no similar separation is made between U.S. attitudes toward the internal (socialist) policies of Angola and Mozambique and U.S. longer term interests in relations with these countries. If the United States is to play a constructive role in crucial ongoing consultations with the black states of southern Africa, it needs now to begin to broaden the base of its relationships with them.

France and Britain have their own discrete, well-established arrangements for regular consultative meetings with African leaders. These consultations provide opportunities for personal exploration of core interests and of collective action. They are extremely valuable in developing mutual understanding and personal trust and in the avoidance of miscalculations. The United States is excluded, for historical reasons, from these consultations and its ability to contribute positively is accordingly diminished. The Cancún Summit was an attempt to replicate at an international level this kind of personal consultation. The Sahel disaster a few years ago stimulated efforts to create permanent consultative machinery. Neither of these initiatives has been entirely successful, but it may be that with the end of colonialism in the African continent (in Namibia) a propitious environment will be created for establishing new consultative machinery in which the United States can take its proper place.

Finance Minister Rui Baltazar Alves of Mozambique emphasized the need for a new approach to genuine consultation when he said in a speech to the Southern African Development Coordination Conference:

The establishment of cooperation in new moulds requires, on the part of the developed countries, a deeper knowledge of the African reality.... It equally requires the recognition that the African peoples have the capacity to manage their own interests without disagreeable pressures or interferences made against their dignity, freedom and independence.

This is the message from Africa in 1981.

1 In 1971 the International Court of Justice handed down its opinion that South Africa's presence in Namibia was illegal. The legal position is important both in regard to the military actions by South Africa in Angola (can any actions taken to defend an illegal occupation be other than illegal in themselves?) and also, as Namibia moves toward independence, in regard to the legal rights of corporations like Rio Tinto Zinc which have been exploiting the country's mineral resources in agreements with the South African government concluded after the 1966 termination of the mandate.

2 As the SWAPO leader Herman Toivo Ja Toivo pointed out at his trial in Pretoria in 1968, the present ruling party of South Africa was on the other side during the war against Nazism. Toivo said to the South African court: "During the Second World War, when it became evident that my country and your country were threatened by dark clouds of Nazism, I risked my life to defend both of them, wearing a uniform with orange bands on it. But some of your countrymen when called to battle to defend civilization resorted to sabotage against their own fatherland . . . today they are our masters."

There may be good reasons of policy for the American government to assure the South African leaders of its friendship, but their performance in the Second World War is not one. Africans, who have suffered so many humiliations in the distortion of history by the white people, might have been spared this gratuitous insult. Toivo is still in a South African prison.

4 The raid was also perhaps a final gesture toward an army which has for a long time been fighting shadows in a hot desolate country far from home. This way they could feel when withdrawn that there had been some military purpose in the long drawn-out exercise. The army, moreover, harbors a sense of humiliation at its forced withdrawal from Angola when it intervened in favor of UNITA in 1975.

5 Many independent observers believe that SWAPO's appeal in Namibia and indeed its physical presence there as a politicizing agent are not dependent on military bases in Angola, and that the demonstrated incapacity of the DTA internal government to achieve change in the face of stubborn conservative opposition is much more likely to affect the voting in a free election.

6 The danger to small states in Africa from the violence inherent in South African society and its government's obsessive fear of "communism" was also made vividly evident in December by the patent South African involvement in the bizarre attempt by a handful of white mercenaries to overthrow the leftist government of the Seychelles islands. Although the United States deplored both the raid and South Africa's lenient handling of those involved, the fact that it was necessary for Washington to issue an official disclaimer of involvement in that event sadly reflects the Administration's own assessment of the degree of suspicion of U.S. actions that continues to exist in Africa.

7 Its title, "Accelerated Development in Africa," seems odd for a report which records a decline and projects worse to come.



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  • David Anderson is Assistant Secretary-General in the Commonwealth Secretariat in London, and Managing Director of the Commonwealth Fund for Technical Cooperation. He has worked and travelled widely in Africa for over 30 years. The views expressed in this article are entirely personal.
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