Foreign Correspondent: Troubles in Southern Africa
Pretoria, South Africa. Since my last report, the whole Southern African scene has been dominated by occurrences in our neighbors, Mozambique and Angola. They became independent territories during 1975. In Mozambique the great majority of the white and colored population fled to the Republic of South Africa and to Portugal. Hundreds of people, both black and white, have been reported killed. The economy is in a complete state of chaos. And because the inhabitants equate "freedom" with freedom from work, the chances for any improvement seem remote. Samora Machel, the Marxist leader of the ruling Frelimo government, immediately started collectivizing all farming operations. During February 1976 all real estate in the country, including that of foreigners, was nationalized. Predictably, both actions resulted in a mass exodus of the real producers. Machel further greatly antagonized the Macua tribe, numbering more than 25 percent of the total population, by forcing them into farming units. He also caused a split with the northern Makonde tribe, by appointing mostly southern blacks and coloreds to government posts. His warning to the population that their wages may have to be deferred for up to three years is definitely not alleviating the growing unrest—very fertile soil for Chinese and Russian imperialism.
In Angola the situation is even worse. Because the three competing independence movements, MPLA, UNITA and FNLA, could not compromise on the government of the country, Portugal removed its forces on the day of independence and left the groups to fight it out. And that is exactly what they are doing. The pro-Soviet MPLA, with the help of Cuban forces and Russian weaponry, are fighting the Socialist but pro-Western UNITA and FNLA (the latter formed a shaky coalition). The Republic of South Africa at first actively helped the latter group, but has withdrawn now to the border areas. The irony of the whole episode is of course that whoever wins, South Africa will have yet another Socialist neighbor.
What are the consequences for the 14 million inhabitants of Angola and Mozambique? The fact that there are a few parties at war with each other as to who should "rule" is self explanatory. Whether one slaves under a white ruler or a black ruler is irrelevant. As long as the slaves sanction the system under which they suffer, they will always be slaves. The issue of "freedom" for these inhabitants is the issue of having a new master. Let the people who advocate immediate majority rule in South Africa and Rhodesia take note. It would be very nice to have a minimal libertarian government and that is what South African libertarians would like to achieve. But as long as the choice is between being governed by a relatively informed white minority and a Socialist black majority, "apartheid" in South Africa will stay. Especially now that the white voters have seen developments in neighboring states.
At the moment the Angolan situation is overshadowing everything else in South Africa. Having a major war with Russian involvement developing on one's doorstep, is enough to make anyone jittery. Add to that America's reluctance to get involved (due mainly to the Vietnam debacle) and one has all the ingredients for uncertainty. How long this new situation will last, is anybody's guess. It has already caused a rupture between the black African states of which roughly 50 percent were for and 50 percent against the Russian-backed MPLA. According to our TV news flashes (can you believe it—we did get TV at the beginning of 1976) it has also caused a confrontation between Congress and the Ford-Kissinger alliance.
On the economic front South Africa had an 18 percent devaluation in 1975 due to the over optimism of the bureaucrats in predicting the gold price and to the excessive use of the printing press. Even now, the South African money supply is being increased at the suicidal rate of 20 percent per year. Inflation has abated slightly (price inflation, that is) from 18 percent to approximately 12 percent p.a. With the increase in the money supply, one can safely predict that it will soon pick up again. Unemployment, surprisingly, is relatively low.
On the libertarian front, this writer and five other professional men formed the Free Market Foundation in August 1975. We are gaining members at a fairly rapid rate, as a result of favourable press coverage and advertisements. It is unbelievable that so many potential proponents of the free market have been hiding in the woodwork—some of them even leading citizens. We publish a monthly bulletin, The Individualist. Through our endeavours, a meeting of all the leading non-governmental financial figures was held in January 1976 where it was decided to form a National Free Market society. The sole aim of this society shall be the promotion of the unhampered market system. Some of the major universities have contacted us to assist them with the introduction of the literature of Von Mises, Hayek, Rothbard, etc. in their economics courses. The South African press has published some of our articles and at least one financial magazine has pledged its active support.
This article originally appeared in print under the headline "Foreign Correspondent: Troubles in Southern Africa".