Israel and Apartheid in the Middle East Part 1

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The sun beats down remorselessly in the desert heat. The dark-skinned labourers, some actual slaves as they have their wages withheld from them after their passports were confiscated, toil relentlessly in the full glare of the sun. The corpses pile up daily from workplace accidents, heat exhaustion and dehydration. But the lighter-skinned master race in this Middle Eastern state exploits those deemed of an inferior race without mercy. The gleaming spires they help to build are not for them, but for wealthy tourists and above all the lighter-skinned European racial types who are encouraged to work here drawn by tax free incomes and sun drenched beaches. As the sun goes down the Third World dark-skinned specimens are shipped out to their overcrowded shanty towns to live among the flies, flowing sewage and cramped accommodation akin to prison cells. Such scenes evoke uncomfortable memories of apartheid, the system of racial classification in South Africa where blacks were only allowed out of their special reserves to work for the white minority elite in the most menial of jobs.

Hence why the very word ‘apartheid’ evokes such an emotional response. It epitomises what for many is the very worst injustice. Hence the calls to boycott Israel in every way possible for the way it treats those who are ‘different’. Yet the picture I have just described was not referring at all to Israel. Indeed the country I have just written about has not been subject to anywhere near such condemnation. Instead it is feted and glamourised for all its glitz as the Las Vegas of the Middle East, the stuff dreams are made of. The very real apartheid and lack of any pretence of democracy is ignored. The country I just described is Dubai.


Did Israel Support Apartheid in South Africa?

As prime minister of South Africa, Hendrik Verwoerd defended apartheid as “a policy of good neighbourliness”. This did not stop his country from being expelled from the Commonwealth in 1961 and eventually earning international pariah status. Verwoerd was the first person to find commonality in the racial policies of his own country, with that of the Jewish state, when he dismissed an Israeli vote against South African apartheid at the United Nations:

 Israel is not consistent in its new anti-apartheid attitude … they took Israel away from the Arabs after the Arabs lived there for a thousand years. In that, I agree with them. Israel, like South Africa, is an apartheid state.

Verwoerd had studied psychology at the universities of Hamburg, Berlin and Leipzig in Germany. Returning to South Africa in 1928 he was appointed to the chair of Applied Psychology and Psycho Technique at the University of Stellenbosch where, six years later, he became Professor of Sociology and Social Work. In 1937 he became editor of Die Transvaaler, which combined Afrikaner nationalism with republicanism, racism and anti-Semitism. In 1936, he joined a deputation of six professors in protesting against the admission to South Africa of Jewish refugees from Nazi Germany. Verwoerd opposed the influx of Jewish refugees fleeing Nazi Germany and also joining the war on Britain’s side.

With the election of the National Party in 1948 and the implementation of apartheid, Verwoerd became an MP and in 1950 was appointed minister of native affairs and passed the Population Registration Act and the Group Areas Act in 1950, the Pass Laws Act of 1952 and the Reservation of Separate Amenities Act of 1953 which entrenched apartheid. In 1958 he became prime minister of South Africa and severed the link with the British monarchy by creating a republic in 1960. By now other Commonwealth states wanted the country out of this collection of nation-states which included Britain’s former colonies in Africa, and which could not even send diplomatic representation to South Africa. The country increasingly became a pariah state and form 1960 was blocked from participating in the Olympics, part of a long sporting boycott begun when Verwoerd allowed only whites to join cricket and other sporting teams. A decade before Malan became the first apartheid-era prime minister, he was leading opposition to Jewish refugees from Nazi Germany entering South Africa. In promoting legislation to block immigration, Malan told parliament in 1937:

I have been reproached that I am now discriminating against the Jews as Jews. Now let me say frankly that I admit that it is so.

With his psychology and sociology training Prime Minister Verwoerd tried to convince a sceptical world that apartheid was not an injustice. Hence he passed the Promotion of Bantu Self-Government in 1959 Act which stripped South Africa’s black majority of all rights and assigned them to various homelands or Bantustans, according to their ethnic groups. Rationalised as giving black self-determination and eventual independence in Bantustans such as Bophuthatswana and Transkei, these were in reality overcrowded and desolate reserves which would supply blacks as cheap labour to the mines to extract mineral wealth for the whites, or as domestic servants in white South Africa. This was despite attempts to make the dystopian theory more viable with the Bantu Investment Corporation Act of 1959. But most of all Verwoerd claimed that apartheid had been “misunderstood” and could better be described as “a policy of good neighbourliness”.

South Africa had given recognition to the state of Israel in 1949, that is after the election of the Nazi-sympathising National Party. DF Malan visited the country four years later. Israeli leaders publicly condemned apartheid throughout the 1950s and early 1960s, although it maintained contact with South Africa, while Jews in the latter feared an anti-Semitic backlash. At the same time Israel like many western nations cultivated close political and economic ties to the apartheid state. In 1975 the Israel-South Africa Agreement was signed, and the following year Israel invited the South African prime minister, John Vorster – a former Nazi sympathiser and a commander of the fascist Ossewabrandwag that sided with Hitler – to make a state visit, where he met with Yitzhak Rabin. Vorster had been interned in a prison camp by Jan Smuts’s government during the war for his Nazi sympathies and ties to the Grey Shirt fascist militia. In 1977, South African Foreign Minister Pik Botha visited Israel to discuss South African issues with Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin and Foreign Minister Moshe Dayan. Subsequently there was close collaboration in military and scientific fields. Perhaps most sensitive was the large group of Israeli scientists working at South Africa’s Pelindaba nuclear facility. During Operation Protea in 1981, the South African Defence Force made military history, as arguably the first user of modern drone technology, when it operated the Israeli IAI Scout drones in combat in Angola. In 1976 the South African government’s yearbook characterised the two countries as confronting a single problem:

Israel and South Africa have one thing above all else in common: they are both situated in a predominantly hostile world inhabited by dark peoples.


By 1987 pressure was mounting on Israel to isolate South Africa. Foreign Minister Shimon Peres, in a speech before parliament, said Israel would sign no more new military contracts with the South African government and would “gradually“ allow those already in effect to expire:

There is no room for discrimination, whether it`s called apartheid or any other name. We repeat that we express our denunciation of the system of apartheid. The Jewish outlook is that every man was born in the image of God and created equal.

Nelson Mandela first visited Israel in 1999, after he had finished as president of South Africa. He had not previously received an invitation from Israel:

To the many people who have questioned why I came, I say: Israel worked very closely with the apartheid regime. I say: I’ve made peace with many men who slaughtered our people like animals. Israel cooperated with the apartheid regime, but it did not participate in any atrocities.

Former South African President Nelson Mandela views a large photo mural of Jewish concentration camp inmates in the Buchenwald camp during World War II as he tours the Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum October 18. Later Mandela laid a wreath in memory to the six-million Jews who perished at the hands of the Nazis during the holocaust. of World War II. JWH/WS - RTRRL09
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Former South African President Nelson Mandela views a large photo mural of Jewish concentration camp inmates in the Buchenwald camp during World War II as he tours the Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum October 18. Later Mandela laid a wreath in memory to the six-million Jews who perished at the hands of the Nazis during the holocaust. of World War II.

Mandela reiterated his unwavering opposition to Israeli control of Gaza, the West Bank, the Golan Heights and southern Lebanon. And he noted that, upon his release from prison in 1990, he received invitations to visit “almost every country in the world, except Israel.”

This was helped by the utter collapse of much of decolonised Africa into civil war, genocide and dictatorship. Flexing their petrodollar, the oil-rich Arab states were only too willing to help the resultant human killing machines stay in power.

After the Six Day War of 1967, Israel’s attempted alliances with post-colonial African states largely failed. As a final expression of this strategy, in 1971, Israel offered $2,850 in aid to the Organization of African Unity, which was rejected. In Third World circles and in that of Leftist movements such as the Black Panthers, Israel was now condemned as a colonial state occupying Arab land and oppressing the Palestinians, just as white imperialists had once oppressed their black, brown and yellow subject races. Following the Yom Kippur War of 1973, Arab oil-producing states put economic pressure on states to cut diplomatic ties with the Jewish state, and threatened to impose an oil embargo on countries with international relations with Israel.

As a result, many African countries broke ties with Tel Aviv. This political isolation only led to greater ties between Israel and South Africa, despite the former’s continual denunciation of apartheid. Opposing international embargoes, Israeli officials sought to coordinate ties with South Africa within a tripartite framework between Israel, the United States, and South Africa. On 14 December 1981 the New York Times ( ) reported that Israel’s Defense Minister, Ariel Sharon had visited South African forces in Namibia along the border with Angola, stating that South Africa is one of the few countries in Africa and southwestern Asia that is trying to resist Soviet military infiltration, and needed more weapons to do so. There was strong collaboration between scientific and military experts in both countries. But by 1987 Israel was one of the few developed nations which still maintained diplomatic relations with the apartheid state. Nevertheless several secret military treaties remained in force, continuing joint research in missile development and nuclear technology.

But was this Support for Apartheid?

A country whose inhabitants had suffered discrimination because of their supposed inferior racial stock establishes full diplomatic relations with South Africa, where a former Nazi sympathiser is prime minister and pushing for the disenfranchisement of blacks as they forcibly relocated into arbitrary tribal homelands known as Bantustans. The head of this state, himself victimised by racial discrimination and who was jailed by the British authorities because he campaigned for his people to have their own nation, is warmly greeted in an official welcome by President Fouché on his arrival and receives a 21 gun salute. White students at the University of Stellenbosch applaud him and sing accolades. The visit is to reciprocate that of former Nazi sympathiser Prime Minister Vorster. Founded by the victims of anti-Semitism which encompassed centuries of religious and then racial hatred, Israel was condemned for becoming close to a state based on principles eerily akin to Nazism, and run by former Nazi sympathisers. The Holocaust epitomised racial hatred at its most extreme. But the scene just described is not about Israel. I have just described the African state of Malawi and its first president Dr Hastings Banda.

Israel was far from unique in its close relations with South Africa. This was driven more by political realism than ideological affinity. Fears of Soviet expansionism were exploited by South Africa to position itself as a Cold War bulwark, especially after Angola and Mozambique fell to Marxist revolutionary movements once the Portuguese had departed. The ANC and PAC also found support from the USSR, China, and revolutionary Arab nationalist Egypt, Libya and Algeria. Lucrative trade links meant that western nations continues to support the South African military. Nixon and Kissinger in fact strengthened their alliance, believing that white minority rule was a permanent feature and the alternative was communism. Until the massacre of school children in Soweto in 1976, Britain, America, France and other nations continued to sell arms to Pretoria due to the voluntary UN arms embargo became mandatory in 1977 with the passing of United Nations Security Council Resolution 418. Nevertheless throughout the 1980s, Thatcher and Reagan continued to oppose sanctions and stringent measures against the government of PW Botha. On June 2, 1985, American conservative activists held the Democratic International, of anti-Communist militants, at UNITA’s headquarters in Jamba, Angola. Under the U.S. administrations of Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, Jamba grew as a major center of UNITA rebel activity, with the construction of elaborate air defence capabilities and runways designed for the replenishment of U.S. war supplies, which were shipped to UNITA. Both Zaire and South Africa cooperated with the U.S. in supporting Savimbi and UNITA in their war against the Angolan government. This was primarily funded by Rite Aid founder Lewis Lehrman and organized by anti-Communist activists Jack Abramoff and Jack Wheeler. Participants included Savimbi, Adolfo Calero, leader of the Nicaraguan Contras, Pa Kao Her, Hmong Laotian rebel leader, U.S. Lieutenant Colonel Oliver North, South African security forces, Abdurrahim Wardak, Afghan Mujahideen leader who became Defence Minister of that country under Hamid Karzai, Jack Wheeler, American conservative policy advocate. Reagan himself hailed UNITA’s leader Jonas Savimbi as a freedom fighter, and Abramoff produced the much-maligned Red Scorpion as a film to underline the Cold War strategy against communism in southern Africa, and its Cuban and Soviet foot soldiers.
America was repeatedly warned against aligning with South Africa and backing UNITA. In a January 1986 statement, the Organization of African Unity (OAU) said:

Mr. Savimbi is a known agent of apartheid South Africa, and has been responsible for the wanton killing of civilians, the destruction of economic infrastructure of the country, and the destabilization of the legitimate Government of the People’s Republic of Angola. Any American involvement in the internal affairs of Angola … will be considered a hostile act against the OAU.

But UNITA received support from several governments in Africa and around the world, including communist Bulgaria, Egypt, France, Israel, Morocco, China, North Korea (although North Korea later recognized the MPLA government), Saudi Arabia, Zaire, and Zambia. While African leaders like Felix Houphouet-Boigny of Ivory Coast and Mobutu Sese Seko of Zaire were open supporters, other presidents cultivated strong diplomatic and commercial ties right until the end. Savimbi had fought Portuguese oppression, then secretly allied with Lisbon to fight the major guerrilla groups of MPLA and FNLA. As independence loomed, he ditched UNITA’s former Maoism and dependence on China to recast himself as an anti-communist superhero, with new sponsors in Pretoria, and then Washington. This was made easier by Soviet advisers and above all Cuban forces supporting the communist government of Angola. Savimbi was one of a few African leaders who took part in PW Botha’s September 1984 inauguration as state president. In a television interview on American news programme 60 minutes, Savimbi said in 1986:

“I can see the executive state president of South Africa as my friend…I consider him my friend.”

Gaining independence from Britain in 1964, Malawi was the only country in Africa to maintain full diplomatic relations with South Africa during the apartheid era. By doing so had had broken the agreements reached by members of the Organisation of African Unity to have no links to Pretoria. Tanzania even called for Malawi to be expelled from the OAU. Kenyan newspaper, the Daily Nation, thought his visit would “set into motion a train of diplomatic events that may well make nonsense of Africa’s commitment to the liberation of the millions of black people who still live under colonial or racist subjugation.” if other African leaders followed suit. In response Banda called African leaders hypocrites, highlighting that they oppressed their own people but preached unity and equality. Dr Banda would have known that intimately, having established a one-party state and crushed all opposition to his authoritarian rule. Malawi formalised relations with South Africa in 1967, and the latter provided a loan for Banda to build a new capital, Lilongwe, as well as helping to train the country’s security services. Banda also maintained friendly relations with the Portuguese colonial rulers in Mozambique and opposed Frelimo’s fight for independence. During the 1980s, Malawi became the conduit for South African aid to the Renamo guerrillas opposed to the Frelimo communist government of Samora Machel. South Africa was Malawi’s largest trading partner and host to many Malawian labourers so relations with South Africa was still vital to Malawi because the colonial economic setup remained. This had been to supply South African mines with black labour from both within the country and surrounding states. Renamo was also supported by President Daniel Arap Moi of Kenya, as well as by conservative circles in Britain and America. However Thatcher did not see the civil war in Mozambique as part of the Cold War conflict and in fact condemned the brutality of Renamo.

At the request of Paris, Houphouet-Boigny began forging relations with South Africa in October 1970, justifying his attitude by stating that “[t]he problems of racial discrimination, so painful, so distressing, so revolting to our dignity of Negros, must not be resolved, we believe, by force.” He even proposed to the OAU in June 1971 that they follow his lead. In spite of receiving some support, his proposal was rejected. This refusal did not, however, prevent him from continuing his attempts to approach the Pretoria regime. His attempts bore fruit in October of that year, when a semi-official meeting between a delegation of high level Ivorian officials and South African Prime Minister B. J. Vorster was held in the capital of South Africa. Moreover, mindful of the Communist influence in Africa, he met Vorster in Geneva in 1977, after the Soviet Union and Cuba tried to collectively spread their influence in Angola and Ethiopia. Relations with South Africa continued on an official basis until the end of his presidency

During the 1970s and early 1980s, although Swaziland claimed to be neutral in the East-West conflict, it was actually pro-Western and maintained strong relations with South Africa, including clandestine cooperation in economic and security matters. South Africa invested heavily in Swaziland’s economy, and Swaziland joined the Pretoria-dominated SACU. During the 1980s, some South African businesses also used Swazi territory as a transshipment point in order to circumvent international sanctions on South Africa. Relying on a secret security agreement with South Africa in 1982, Swazi officials harassed ANC representatives in the capital, Mbabane, and eventually expelled them from Swaziland. On 17 February 1982 King Sobhuza II signed a secret agreement with South Africa. The pact bound both parties not to allow “any act which involves a threat or use of force against each other’s territory” and called for “action individually or collectively as may be deemed necessary or expedient to eliminate this evil”. After the agreement was signed, Stanley Mabizela, the ANC’s representative in Swaziland, was forced to leave the country. South African security forces, operating undercover, also carried out operations against the ANC on Swazi territory.

Maj. Gen. Justin Lekhanya seized power from Prime Minister Leabua Jonathan of Lesotho in 1986 when the latter proved too sympathetic to the ANC. Lekhanya then set about remoulding his country as a pro-Pretoria ally. In many ways he had no choice considering that Lesotho was entirely landlocked by South Africa.

Mobutu Sese Sekou staunch anti-communist and self-image as a friend of the West meant that he allowed Zaire to be used as a channel through which American arms were supplied to South African backed terrorist group UNITA, which was fighting the Marxist government of Angola. Former South African foreign affairs minister Pik Botha recounted to City Press several trips he made to meet Mobutu in the 1970s and 1980s to discuss political and trade interests at a time when South Africa and Zaire were supplying Unita’s Jonas Savimbi and the ­FNLA’s ­Holden Roberto with arms. Mineral trade with South Africa flourished. From 1975, South African Air Force planes used Kinshasa’s Ndjili airport for transshipment of weapons used against Angola. South African mercenaries deployed with Pretoria’s approval fought for President Mobutu as far back as the early 1960’s, when he headed the army of newly independent Congo. On seizing power in November 1965, President Mobutu’s first official acts included issuing a letter of commendation to Col. Michael Hoare, the infamous South African mercenary, thanking him for his services. In 1978, when Angola-based Zairian rebels tried to overthrow President Mobutu, South Africa sent military advisers to help him, The Washington Post reported. In the early 1980’s, there were persistent reports of United States-South African-Zairian military strategy meetings in Kinshasa to plot covert action against Angola. In 1989, Seti Yale, then Mr. Mobutu’s top security adviser, traveled to Cape Town for talks with senior South African officials

In an incredible revelation on 31 August 1976, Dr. Harris Schoenberg, B’nai B’rith’s deputy director for United Nations Affairs, noted that South Africa’s largest trading partner, after Britain, was the African continent where some two dozen Black states traded with South Africa directly, often disguising the relationship through intermediaries or purchasing agents. Indeed several Black states, after importing partly finished products from South Africa, labelled and sold them in African markets bereft of their original South African identity. The propaganda drive by Arab states charged Israel with racism and cited South African Prime Minister John Vorster’s recent visit to that country as evidence of a “Tel Aviv-Pretoria axis”. This was blatant hypocrisy when one recognised the growing commerce of Arab states and sub-Saharan Africa with Pretoria. It also ignores the activities of pro-Arab France which had become South Africa’s principal arms supplier, or Vorster’s state visits to the Ivory Coast, Senegal, Liberia and Zambia. Dr Schoenberg uncovered that Saudi Arabia, which had openly supplied South Africa with one-fourth of its imported oil before the 1973 embargo made South Africa’s energy supplies a classified matter, the Gulf sheikhdoms and Jordan were among prominent trading partners with South Africa. It pointed to large purchases of South African food, pre-fabricated materials and gold by Saudi Arabia. Kuwait’s ruling al-Sabah family, as owner of a London-based conglomerate with 59 subsidiaries in South Africa and Rhodesia, earned profits in Black Africa and used them to subsidize projects in these white minority states.

B’nai B’rith Discloses That Arab. Black African States Maintain Extensive Trade with South Africa

On 7 September 1976, American Jewish Congress released a study naming 19 Black African states engaged in trade relations with the Republic of South Africa. The study prepared by Moshe Decter, was undertaken to expose the double standard” that has been applied to Israel by critics of its trade with south Africa. It named Angola, Botswana, Central African Republic, Chad, Congo, Gabon, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Lesotho, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Nigeria, Senegal, Swaziland, Zaire; and Zambia. The study also reported “considerable evidence of trade relations between Arab states and South Africa,” and named Saudi Arabia as one of the most active trading partners:

While Black African countries have loudly condemned South Africa’s racial policies in public, privately they recognize that they must trade with the apartheid regime of South Africa if their economies are to survive and grow.

Ajcongress Study Shows Flourishing, Extensive Trade Between South Africa and 19 Black African States

On 2 November 1976, the Jewish Telegraph reported that Israel’s Ambassador to the United Nations, Chaim Herzog, responded to repeated attacks by Arab delegates on Israel for its relations with the government of South Africa by exposing them of the “most disgusting exhibition of double-talk, two-faced duplicity and unashamed hypocrisy.” He cited fresh reports that Egypt has been sending teachers to South Africa until two months previously, and also Iraq for supplying oil to South Africa.

Herzog Accuses Arabs of Double-talk, Duplicity on the Issue of Apartheid

Egypt in fact did not break relations with South Africa until May 1961, when momentum was gaining at the United Nations to isolate the Apartheid regime, despite Cairo being the host and patron of the ANC, PAC and other African nationalist groups.

Saudi Arabia had no problem supplying the apartheid regime with oil until the 1973 embargo. According to Egyptian-Belgian writer Khaled Diab, Riyadh may well have broken sanctions in the 1980s and supplied oil to the Pretoria government.

After 1973 South Africa relied on most of its oil from another Middle Eastern monarchy, that of Iran. Before the fall of the shah Pretoria enjoyed close relations with Tehran, in their common view to fighting communism. The National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) had had a 17.5 percent share in the National Petroleum Refiners of South Africa (Natref) refinery in Sasolburg, Free State — a joint venture with South African Coal, Oil and Gas Corporation (SASOL) — since it was established in 1971. That state-of-the-art facility could refine heavy (high sulfur) crude, and NIOC was to provide 70 percent of the refinery’s supply for 20 years.

During the 1980s, the leading suppliers of crude oil to South Africa were Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Iran, amounting to about 80 percent of all South Africa’s petroleum imports. These shipments were done either directly or through middlemen and were worth about $2 billion a year. Apparently both the ANC and the Palestine Liberation Organization were aware of this but did not protest to those governments, at least publicly. One Arab country dealt openly with South Africa even after the Arab League put pressure on it to apply diplomatic sanctions in 1974: Lebanon. According to the South African foreign ministry, while the Apartheid government had closed its consulate in Beirut that year, South Africa continued to operate an interest section there out of the embassy of Switzerland, while Lebanon did the same in Pretoria. The Lebanese interest section never ceased functioning until full diplomatic relations were reestablished in 1994. South Africa’s representative was withdrawn from Beirut, however, in 1979, due to issues of safety during the civil war (1975-90), after which time a “locally recruited staff member” carried on operations until 1982, when they were “suspended.”63 It should be noted that Lebanon’s ministry in charge of foreign relations is formally known as the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Emigrants. Like Israel, which took into account the much larger Jewish population of South Africa, Lebanon considered the interests of the Christian Lebanese population residing there. Moreover, until the early 1990s, Maronite Christians held the most influence over the Lebanese government.

Political Personalities, pic: 6th February 1984, British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher pictured with the South African Premier P,W,Botha at Chequers  (Photo by Popperfoto/Getty Images)
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Political Personalities, pic: 6th February 1984, British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher pictured with the South African Premier P,W,Botha at Chequers (Photo by Popperfoto/Getty Images)

In 1964 France strengthened its investments in the apartheid state. Within just a decade, French exports to South Africa, excluding arms sales, would increase threefold, reaching a value of more than one billion francs at the time. When we include the sales of arms and other military equipment, France was the second largest foreign partner of the racist regime, behind the United Kingdom but ahead of the United States and West Germany. French firms invested on a massive scale. Compagnie générale d’électricité (CGE) and its subsidiaries – ancestors of today’s Alstom and Alcatel – provided electricity or railways materials to South Africa and manufactured television sets in the country (under the Thomson brand). Renault and Peugeot sold engines to several plants. The Wendel family, a major player in the French steel industry (as a shareholder of Usinor, now part of ArcelorMittal), sourced its coal in South Africa and had it sent to France to power its steel mills. Construction firms, including Dumez (which later became part of the Vinci group) and Spie Batignolles, built port terminals, hydroelectric dams and highways, for instance in Johannesburg. Compagnie française des pétroles, which became Total in 1991, had significant interests in South African refineries, and partnered with Shell and BP to drill off the Cape Coast. EDF and Framatome – now integrated into Areva – even built the first South African nuclear plant. In 1964 France also became the leading supplier of arms to Pretoria, and filled the gap left by Britain’s Labour government implementing an arms ban in 1971. In 1971, Dassault sold the apartheid regime technologies and licenses to manufacture ‘anti-insurgency’ fighter aircraft, of the ‘Mirage-Milan’ prototype, to suppress ANC’s guerrilla activity. Between 1970 and 1975, 48 Mirage F1 were exported to South Africa, as well as helicopters (Alouette, Frelon, Puma), light armoured vehicles and missiles. Dassault, Matra (Lagardère group), Panhard (later acquired by Renault), Turbomeca (Safran group) and Société nationale industrielle aérospatiale (now EADS) were at the forefront of this lucrative trade. France therefore played an important role in supporting apartheid since it was the main arms supplier to South Africa between 1963 and 1975 and assisted the government’s nuclear programme.

Taiwan and South Africa established diplomatic relations in 1949. They grew considerably in 1971 after United Nations General Assembly Resolution 2758 withdrew international recognition of the Republic of China in favor of the People’s Republic of China. South Africa had previously maintained cool relations with Taiwan due to fears that closer relations would increase mainland China’s support for the Pan Africanist Congress of Azania. In 1976, both South Africa and Taiwan upgraded their consulates to full embassy status. Both shared a similar international worldview, with the Taiwanese ambassador to South Africa H. K. Yang noting, “South Africa and my country are joined in the fight against communism. We are in favour of free enterprise, democracy and freedom.” Relations expanded in the 1980s with South African leader P. W. Botha visiting in 1980 as Prime Minister and in 1986 as State President. Vice President of Taiwan Hsieh Tung-min was present when the 1983 South African Constitution was inaugurated. Trade between the apartheid regime and Taiwan grew rapidly in the 1970s and 1980s. Indeed Taiwan, along with Hong Kong and South Korea, invested heavily in the internationally unrecognized black homelands of Transkei, Bophuthatswana, Ciskei and Venda. In 1984, South African General Johann Coetzee was awarded the Yun Hai medal of Taiwan for promoting the “traditional friendship and military cooperation” between the two countries. The South African government also offered a number of economic incentives to investors from Taiwan seeking to set up factories and businesses in the country. Taiwan and South Africa cooperated significantly in the military arena. In 1980, the two countries signed an agreement for Taiwan to send South Africa a total of 4,000 tons of uranium over six years. Taiwan, South Africa, and Israel shared nuclear technology during this period.

One must also not forget the support apartheid received from blacks in South Africa. Mandela condemned his own nephew Chief Kaiser Matanzima for supporting the Bantu Authorities Act 1951 and subsequent legislation by which native South Africans were disenfranchised, denaturalised and left stateless by being assigned to one of their traditional ‘homelands’. He saw Verwoerd’s vision as a mean of achieving Xhosa hegemony and his personal ambition. Matanzima himself became prime minister of Transkei on its ‘independence’ in 1976. In In the same year he published Independence my Way, in which he argued that true liberation could only be gained through a confederation of black states; and described Transkei as a positive precedent and maintained that the liberation struggle chosen by the ANC would not be successful.

The other Xhosa homeland was Ciskei. In 1981 it became ‘independent’ under Lennox Sebe of the Ciskei National Independent Party, who crushed all opposition. On 29 December 1980 Sebe had stated:

We need our youth in our nation-building….they must stop their revolt now as the bright day emerges….When the clarion call to defend our great South Africa against the ever-increasing communism threat, the great Ciskeians will be the first to defend the temples of our fathers, the shrines of this country.

Lucas Mangope became president of Bophuthatswana when South Africa enforced that homeland’s independence in 1977. Under Mangope’s rule, political freedoms in Bophuthatswana deteriorated. Opponents of the state were subject to banishment, arrest, or extrajudicial harassment. The ANC was also considered an illegal organisation. In 1988 the South African military helped put down an attempted coup against their loyal puppet. Even with the release of Mandela in 1990 and the negotiations to end apartheid, Mangope held fast to his ‘independence’. From February 1994 strikes by government workers and police led to a breakdown in law and order. On 8 March 1994, the president invited General Constand Viljoen, head of the all-white Afrikaner Volksfront, to a meeting of his chief ministers in the Bophuthatswana Defence Force, national police, and intelligence services. It was concluded that Viljoen would use armed Volksfront militias to protect key locations in Bophuthatswana. The neo-Nazi AWB also invaded as its leader Eugene Terreblanche claimed that Mangope had invited him to help.

Although he agreed to leave AWB militia used the departure to fire upon innocent blacks with live ammunition as if they were on a hunting trip. Journalist Greg Marinovich stated that one AWB member present had remarked in wry Afrikaans, “Ons is op ‘n kafferskiet piekniek” (‘We are on a kaffir-shooting picnic’).

In response, the predominantly black Bophuthatswana Defence Force, agitated by their superiors’ inability to control the white gunmen, threatened to attack Afrikaner militias. AWB Colonel Alwyn Wolfaardt, AWB General Nicolaas Fourie and Jacobus Stephanus Uys were driving a blue Mercedes at the end of a convoy of AWB vehicles that had been firing into roadside huts. They were in turn shot by Bophuthatswana police live on television.

March 11-12, 1994, Bophuthatswana, South Africa --- White supremacist Afrikaner Weerstandsbeweging (AWB) invading the territory of Bophuthatswana to try to restore the apartheid status quo. Three wounded members of AWB following a shootout with Bophuthatswana Defence Force were shot dead by outraged BOP soldier O.B. Menyatsoe. --- Image by © Megan Patricia Carter Trust/Sygma/Corbis
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March 11-12, 1994, Bophuthatswana, South Africa — White supremacist Afrikaner Weerstandsbeweging (AWB) invading the territory of Bophuthatswana to try to restore the apartheid status quo. Three wounded members of AWB following a shootout with Bophuthatswana Defence Force were shot dead by outraged BOP soldier O.B. Menyatsoe. — Image by © Megan Patricia Carter Trust/Sygma/Corbis

BBC journalist Fergal Keane interviewed Chief Maphumolo of Kwazulu, at Table Mountain near Pietermaritzburg, during apartheid. Maphumolo was shot in 1991, and the following extract is from Keane’s book The Bondage of Fear, which was published in 1994:

The ANC…you see the ANC…you see that Mandela. I’ll kick his f***** a*** if he comes here, I can tell you. I am Chief Maphumolo. They’ll have to cut my f****** head off if they want to come into this place.

He feared that the ANC would stamp out Zulu traditions. Kwazulu’s main powerful traditional leader, Chief Buthalezi, originally joined the ANC. But in 1975 he revived the Zulu cultural outfit Inkatha and was helped by state security services as a bulwark against the ANC. Many chiefs feared the ANC’s talk of socialism. Fearing an erosion of his power, Buthelezi collaborated with the South African Defence Force and received military training for Zulu militia from SADF special forces starting in the 1980s as part of Operation Marion. IFP members were involved in several massacres in the run-up to South Africa’s first democratic elections, including the Trust Feed massacre on December 3, 1988 and the Boipatong massacre on June 17, 1992.

In September 1992, Buthelezi, Mangope and Ciskei’s Oupa Gqozo formed COSAG (Concerned South African Group) with the Conservative Party which wanted to retain apartheid and had opposed even moderate reforms by PW Botha, the Afrikaner Volksfront. In contrast to the negotiations being undertaken by Mandela and De Klerk, COSAG touted the idea of a confederation of southern African states. The flawed logic in this was exposed when the CP continued to behave openly racist towards its black allies. In June 1993 the CP delegates watched idly as Inkatha members were racially assaulted at an AVF forum meeting.
Chris McGreal worked for the BBC before joining the Guardian. On 19 December 2000, he wrote ‘Collaborators’ Keep Quiet on Apartheid:

Many black South Africans worked for the apartheid police, army and civil service. Others served on the township councils, which were denounced and attacked by the African National Congress when it was underground.
Poorer people often faced a nearly impossible choice between collaboration and destitution, and the point at which they contributed to their own oppression was not always clear.
But there is no doubt that people such as Mrs Sigcau – who was once denounced in parliament as an “apartheid spy” – and other black people who served as homeland leaders, police chiefs and judges benefited from the oppression of their compatriots. Yet none of those who once served apartheid and now work for the ANC have seen fit to say sorry.
They include the ANC premier of the corruption-plagued Mpumalanga province, Ndaweni Mahlangu, who previously served as deputy chief minister in the Kwa-Ndebele homeland.
Among the ANC’s members of parliament are mixed-race people who joined the racially segregated parliament under PW Botha, and former military officers from the black homelands.
The ANC argues that there is no need for such people to apologise because its white opponents are using the issue to justify their own refusal to admit that they benefited from an evil system.




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