THE winds of the West continue to blow strongly in Africa.
Despite a few recidivist nations, Africa is exhibiting more and more
democratic, pluralistic tendencies. Most of its peoples are claiming
long suppressed rights.
If the recently announced cease-fire in Angola becomes a reality
after 16 years of civil war, that once Marxist country will soon
join the growing list of African states preparing to hold their
first open elections.
The willingness of both the governing Popular Movement for the
Liberation of Angola (MPLA) and the rebel National Union for the
Total Independence of Angola (UNITA) finally to agree to a
cease-fire monitored by the UN and elections to be arranged with the
help of Portugal, the US, and the Soviet Union, is a legacy of the
end of the cold war. The US (and South Africa) have backed UNITA;
the Soviet Union supported the MPLA.
Their mutual willingness also recognizes the force these days of
the winds from the West and the successful outbreak of democracy in
Eastern Europe. Namibia, Angola's neighbor to the south, made the
successful transition last year from a cold- war object and South
African control to well-celebrated independence. Even South Africa
is stirred by the winds of change.
In preparation for major shifts at home, the MPLA, like Communist
parties in Eastern Europe, has already abandoned its commitment to
Marxism. Along with formerly Marxist Mozambique, another
Portuguese-speaking state, the MPLA has also permitted new political
parties of the moderate center to emerge.
The MPLA had few other choices. With the return home of 50,000
Cuban soldiers, it could not expect ever to defeat UNITA on the
battlefield. Nor could UNITA hope to achieve an outright victory,
particularly without South African backing (withdrawn last year) and
without the promise of continued military support from the US.
Moreover, the wider lessons of Africa are clear. Directly to the
east, in Zambia, President Kenneth Kaunda, in office since
independence in 1964, last year was compelled by the threat of urban
riots to concede an election and to license more than his own
Ever since, his United National Independence Party (UNIP) has
lost prominent followers to the upstart Movement for Multiparty
Democracy and other parties. Few expect UNIP to win, or President
Kaunda to remain in office. Nor do many expect his rivals to govern
more effectively, however responsive they claim to be toward
ordinary Zambians. …