Anonymous 11/22/2022 (Tue) 12:02 No.109714 del
“The Chinese and Soviets had a bigger role in supporting apartheid than we previously knew” – Part 1
PublishedNovember 3, 2018

It’s not very often that a book really reshapes our perception of an issue, but Hennie van Vuuren’s “Apartheid, Guns and Money: a tale of profit” is one. It is a massive work: over 600 pages and the result of a decade of meticulous, painstaking work.

From a modest office in a rundown suburb of Cape Town, Van Vuuren has been beavering away to probe into the stories that could never be told during the apartheid years. Formerly director at the Institute for Security Studies, he now runs Open Secrets, which peers into economic and human rights violations. This volume, first published in South African in 2017, is the result.

The extraordinary tale that Van Vuuren tells is how – as the South African state gradually became an international pariah and as the truth about apartheid became internationally known – it moved from a normal member of the world community to a covert operator. It began working in shady ways, through even more shady operators.

“To ensure it had access to arms and oil, Pretoria moved from legitimate to illegitimate trade; from overt to covert deals”

This was supported (or at least connived at) by many western powers. That the US, Britain and France did this has been known, or at least suspected, for many years. Van Vuuren fills in the blanks and gives us plenty of new information on this. Although shocking this is less than astonishing.

What is really novel is that he uncovers a completely new set of actors: the Chinese and the Soviet Union. In the past it has been assumed that, for the most part, they were completely wedded to the liberation movements. The support from Moscow and Beijing for the African National Congress and—to a lesser extent—the Pan Africanist Congress, was so widely reported that few suspected there might be less than total solidarity between the communist powers and the liberation movements.

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