WorldNetDaily.com international correspondent Anthony C. LoBaido has spent the past decade analyzing strategic issues in Southern Africa. He filed this report on the recent assassination of Angola’s anti-globalist UNITA leader Jonas Savimbi.
RUNDU, Namibia – “It was time for him to go. Savimbi was interfering with normal economic development in Angola,” goes the talk in Southern Africa these days.
In late February, UNITA rebel leader Jonas Savimbi was assassinated by parties unknown, thus likely bringing an end to the last anti-communist militant movement in the Southern Hemisphere.
Who was Jonas Savimbi? And what led him to such an end?
It is known that he had 28 sons. In the mid-1980s he was feted by President Ronald Reagan at the White House, promoted as the Chinese-trained communist guerrilla turned “freedom fighter” and friend of the West.
Those who knew him best offer contrasting opinions, as do the white Afrikaners who once armed and trained him to fight against the Soviet, Cuban, North Korean and East bloc soldiers who tried to invade Southern Angola, Southwest Africa (now Namibia) and finally South Africa. This “Greens Oorlog,” Afrikaans for “border war,” would last over 30 years, beginning in the 1970s after Angola achieved independence from Portugal.
“Savimbi was a socialist; I personally would not fight for him,” Bobby Booyse, who commanded the Afrikaners Kwa Nbele regiment, told WorldNetDaily. “But he was the man we South Africans chose to back.”
Who killed Savimbi? It is well known that he had many enemies. They included the United Nations, communist China, Marxist neighbors, Namibia, Congo and Zimbabwe. Add to that mix Russia, North Korea, the Marxist MPLA government of Angola, and the apartheid-era mercenary army Executive Outcomes.
Executive Outcomes, founded by Rhodesian Eeben Barlow, and its special forces once trained UNITA, the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola. However, it was Executive Outcomes and its corporate connections to Chevron oil and the DeBeers Diamond Cartel that led to the beginning of the end for Savimbi. EO was deployed against UNITA in the early 1990s and made great gains for the MPLA, the Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola.
In recent years, British Prime Minister Tony Blair offered Savimbi asylum in the UK, freedom from prosecution and the chance to keep all of his personal wealth if only he would hand over UNITA-controlled territory to British diamond and oil interests. Savimbi flatly refused and fought on.
This might have been his final miscalculation, for soon after that rejection Irish diplomat Richard Ryan, the kingpin on the U.N.’s anti-UNITA sanctions committee, asked the New York-based Kroll Associates to begin investigating the global whereabouts of Savimbi’s fortune. Various top UNITA officials either were assassinated or offered bribes by the West to turn against Savimbi.
The DeBeers diamond cartel, working hand in hand with former President Clinton, earned an executive order branding the sale of any and all UNITA-mined diamonds as an international crime. Diamond dealers trafficking in UNITA diamonds from Antwerp, Belgium, to Zambia were hounded to no end.
But Savimbi had reason to be wary. In 1992, UNITA signed the Lusaka Protocol and agreed to enter into an election with the MPLA. Under promises of protection, Savimbi’s top aides were lured to Luanda, where they were assassinated by unknown forces. UNITA withdrew from the Lusaka Protocol and returned to the bush and continued fighting, this time facing Executive Outcomes, the hammer of the DeBeers diamond cartel and Western oil companies.
Savimbi’s allies included the apartheid South African government, U.S. State Department, the CIA, Zambia, Morocco, Burkina Faso, Togo and Rwanda. Savimbi found that allies of a few African heads of state, such as Togo’s Eyadema government, had been either bribed to abandon him or had been driven away from offering help due to various transnational-sponsored sanctions.
Savimbi had other enemies, environmentalists who accused UNITA of trading illegally in teak, wood and ivory, as well as the late Princess Diana, who visited Angola to champion her anti-land mine crusade. UNITA soon learned that workers with various U.N. non-governmental organizations were mapping UNITA’s mine-based perimeter.
Other UNITA enemies were found in the media working hand in glove with various Angolan oil and mining interests. For example, Bill Keller the chief New York Times correspondent in Angola during the border war, is the son of the CEO of a major U.S. oil giant doing business with the MPLA.
“Savimbi had taken on the Soviets, Cubans, Executive Outcomes, De Beers, Chevron, China, Russia, North Korea, Zimbabwe, anyone, everyone,” says Hennie Botha, a South African soldier who fought alongside UNITA in the border war.
Time ran out
“But then time ran out for Savimbi,” Russian photographer Len Sadovsky told WorldNetDaily.
Sadovsky, now living in New York, said that he fought with the Soviets alongside the MPLA in the 1980s.
“It is well known that the Afrikaners had diamond agreements with the Soviets,” he said. “The war went on and on; no one wanted to win it seemed. Too many powerful people were making too much money on the Angolan war. In Havana, Moscow, Pretoria, large sums of money were spent on weapons.”
A top official with Executive Outcomes told WorldNetDaily that during the border war “certain forces in the apartheid government were profiting from the war, and thus fed disinformation about the border war to the South African public. Why were our soldiers fighting for 15 years in a war that Executive Outcomes practically brought to an end in merely a matter of months?”
Time did run out, sometime before Feb. 23, when Angolan television broadcast photos of Savimbi’s body – hit with 15 bullets – for all of the world to see.
In the days before his death, Savimbi was on the run from MPLA forces in the remote region of Luvu, near Zambia. It was Zambia that had laundered UNITA’s diamonds, which funded its war with the MPLA and drew the ire of former President Clinton’s executive order and various United Nations resolutions.
Savimbi’s body was paraded about by the MPLA’s state-run media, then given a poor man’s burial in the town of Lucusse, only 20 miles or so from the very spot from which he founded UNITA.
After 30 years in the bush, who found Savimbi and assassinated him?
He was betrayed by his aides said a journalist with Angola’s state-run media, Ernesto Bartolomeu, who was the last journalist to interview Savimbi.
The official MPLA announcement about Savimbi’s demise spoke only of “the death of Jonas Malheiro Savimbi, who was leading the armed groups responsible for the destruction of national property and the death of countless innocent civilians throughout the country.”
Celebrations followed in many towns in Angola. In Namibia, the response was taken as a matter of fact. Not long before Savimbi’s death, Namibian officials had traveled to Angola and visited with the MPLA’s leadership, perhaps to work out the final details of a post-Savimbi Southern Africa. Zimbabwe dictator Robert Mugabe had sent troops to fight against UNITA’s southern flank via northeast Namibia. Around the time of Savimbi’s assassination, Mubage was re-elected to another term in office.
Uganda Defense Minister Amama Mbabaza told the world press, “If it is true that Savimbi is dead, then there are no regrets. He was a troublemaker for Angola, and Uganda never supported his cause.”
The final tally sheet in the Angolan civil war is difficult to swallow. Over 500,000 lives were lost. Millions of landmines remain, many of them laid by the Soviet Union. Scores of Cuban troops contracted AIDS in Angola and brought home that plague to Cuba. A third of the nation’s population is homeless. Farmers are afraid to plant crops for fear of landmines.
“In the end, it is the Anglo-American financial interests who have defeated UNITA,” said Matthew Matubo, a UNITA soldier interviewed by WorldNetDaily.
“The MPLA is telling us to come out of the bush and lay down our weapons,” he said. “‘There is no reason to fight anymore,’ they claim. Perhaps they are right. But who will stop the corporations of the West from pillaging and ruining all of Africa?”