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Publication Date: February 2020
“A shooting war is often followed by a second war. This war is not fought with bullets or artillery shells, not with tanks or bombers, but rather with words. The war is, in effect, fought again on paper.”
In 1987/’88 the dusty southern Angolan town of Cuito Cuanavale became the scene of the final battles of the Border War. Today it is the focal point of the public debate over the question who actually won the war.
The alliance of the Angolan MPLA government, Cuba and the Namibian freedom movement SWAPO claim that the South African Defence Force (SADF) wanted to use Cuito Cuanavale as a springboard for an advance on Luanda, but that they eventually forced the SADF to withdraw from Angola. This in turn helped to bring an end to apartheid, they contend.
The leadership of the SADF, however, state that taking Cuito Cuanavale was never a serious objective and that they had no plans to overthrown the Angolan government.
In recent years a mass of original SADF documents have been declassified. Leopold Scholtz interrogated these documents to establish what the true objectives of the SADF were in these final, crucial battles of the Border War. He also examines certain battles in the campaign and analyse why one side or the other won or lost.
This incisive analysis is testament to what happens when war, politics and propaganda intertwine.
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