Liberation in Southern Africa: Regional and Swedish Voices : Interviews from Angola, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Zimbabwe, the Frontline and Sweden

By Tor Sellström | Go to book overview

An Introductory Note

The Context of the Interviews

In May 1969, the Swedish parliament endorsed a policy of direct official humanitarian assistance to the national liberation movements in Southern Africa and Guinea-Bissau. Followed by the other Nordic countries, 1 Sweden thereby became the first industrialized Western country to enter into a direct relationship with movements that in the Cold War period elsewhere in the West were shunned as `Communist' or `terrorist'.

Although geographically and culturally far apart, during the protracted struggles for majority rule and national independence in Angola, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Namibia and South Africa a close relationship would evolve between the Nordic countries and the Southern African liberation movements, both at the official and at the non-governmental levels. Over the years, an increasing proportion of the liberation movements' civilian needs was covered by the Nordic countries, involving a wide range of organizations, from the official aid agencies to churches, trade unions, solidarity groups etc. To this should be added assistance extended to organizations aligned with the liberation movements, such as the South African United Democratic Front. In the case of Sweden—which extended official support to MPLA of Angola, FRELIMO of Mozambique, SWAPO of Namibia, ZANU and ZAPU of Zimbabwe and ANC of South Africa—a total of 4 billion Swedish Kronor in current figures was disbursed as official humanitarian assistance to Southern Africa until the democratic elections in South Africa in 1994. Of this amount, not less than 1.7 billion—over 40 per cent—was channelled directly to the six liberation movements under bilateral agreements. 2 As stated by the American scholar William Minter,

in the 1980s, the international right wing was fond of labeling SWAPO and ANC as `Soviet-backed'. In empirical terms, the alternate, but less dramatic, labels `Swedishbacked' or 'Nordic-backed' would have been equally or even more accurate, especially in the non-military aspects of international support. 3

Talking about Sweden, the ANC leader Oliver Tambo—who from 1960 regularly visited the Nordic countries and perhaps more than any other Southern African politician contributed himself to the close relationship 4—characterized the unusual

____________________
1
Denmark did not extend direct official support to the Southern African liberation movements, but channelled considerable resources to them via Danish and international non-governmental organizations.
2
Based on disbursement figures according to the annual accounts of the Swedish International Development Authority (SIDA), established by Ulla Beckman for the Swedish study.
3
William M. Minter: Review of The Impossible Neutrality by Pierre Schori in Africa Today, No. 43, 1996, p. 95.
4
Denmark was the first European country to receive the ANC leader. Barely one month after going into exile, Tambo was invited by the Danish trade union confederation to address the Labour Day celebrations in Copenhagen and Aarhus on 1 May 1960.

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Liberation in Southern Africa: Regional and Swedish Voices : Interviews from Angola, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Zimbabwe, the Frontline and Sweden
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Liberation in Southern Africa— Regional and Swedish Voices - Interviews from Angola, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Zimbabwe, the Frontline and Sweden *
  • Contents *
  • Preface and Acknowledgements *
  • An Introductory Note *
  • Angola *
  • Mozambique *
  • Namibia *
  • South Africa *
  • Zimbabwe *
  • Zambia, Oau and the Soviet Union *
  • Sweden *
  • List of Acronyms 356
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