The Battle of Cuito Cuanavale remembered


South Africa’s Department of Military Veterans (DMV), part of Minister Thandi Modise’s portfolio, has this month commemorated the December 1987 to March 1988 Battle of Cuito Cuanavale in Angola.

A statement, attributed to Lebogang Mothapa, DMV Media Liaison Officer, has it “the battle was the largest military confrontation on African soil since the Second World War Allies-Axis battles in North Africa. It marked the beginning of the end of white minority domination in southern Africa, the dismantling of the apartheid system and the total liberation of Africa from European occupation”.

Saying “the battle against apartheid forces in Angola in 1988 is regarded as the moment that expedited the liberation of Namibia, South Africa and the SADC region”, the statement added that the “battle led to the movement of powerful Cuban armed force (sic), into the west, towards the Namibian border”.

“The fighting in the south-western part of Angola led to the withdrawal of the South African, ANC and Cuban presence in Angola and to the independence of Namibia. There was no material gain for the Cubans who came to our support, but their overriding incentive was to fight for the liberation of Southern Africa from colonial and reactionary forces. The battle of Cuito Cuanavale was what Oliver Tambo referred to as the Waterloo of racist South Africa and the fighting opened doors for a democratic dispensation in South Africa.

“The decisive defeat of the racist army in Cuito Cuanavale was a victory for all Africa. This victory in Cuito Cuanavale is what made it possible for Angola to enjoy peace and establish its own sovereignty. The defeat of the racist army made it possible for the people of Namibia to achieve their independence.

“The DMV will continue to honour and memorialise fallen and living heroes of the struggle against liberation,” the statement ends.

As part of its ongoing efforts to put military veterans front and centre the DMC will tomorrow (Friday, 1 April) launch six books adding to the literature of the struggle movement in South and Southern Africa. Freedom Park on the southern side of the Pretoria CBD will host the launch.

Khaya Skweyiya – “From Activism to Disillusionment: The story of an MK Comrade”, Morena Motaung – “Goodness and Sadness of being a Freedom fighter”, Mabuse Mampane – “My Journey from a Rural Herd boy to MK Soldier and then Ambassador”, Lebona Mosia – “All Was Not in Vain, Gertrude Fester – Prison Note Book 1: Prison number V2957/88” and Muntu Nxumalo – “Still We Rise” will debut tomorrow.

The launch is in line with a stated DMV objective of producing publications aiming to restore and contribute to the dignity and well-being of military veterans by promoting and elevating their contribution to a democratic South Africa and the broader liberation struggle discourse.