First Published: The Call, Vol. 6, No. 13, April 11, 1977.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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Battlefield evidence has shown conclusively that the invasion of Zaire’s mineral-rich Shaba region is a Soviet-Cuban backed offensive to expand the influence of social-imperialism in Africa. The events unfolding in Zaire, as well as in other parts of the African continent, all point to an aggressive new thrust by the Soviet Union in its scramble with the U.S. for domination.
AZAP, the Zaire news agency, reported that several thousand troops launched an invasion of the Shaba area from neighboring Angola in mid-March. According to information from the battlefield, these troops were equipped with the most modern Soviet rockets and missiles.
It was reported that they were fighting under Cuban command and that a number of white soldiers were among those killed. Spanish language documents were found in several places where the troops had passed.
Fearing collapse of their African strongholds, the U.S. imperialists immediately dispatched $2 million worth of arms to the Zaire government.
All reports out of Zaire indicate that the bulk of the invading army is made up of Katangese mercenaries, who fought with the reactionary Moise Tshombe in the early 1960s. Tshombe’s forces were used by U.S. imperialism at that time in connection with the assassination of Congolese President Patrice Lumumba. They were also used to stir up the secessionist movement in Katanga, which is now known as Shaba.
After Tshombe’s defeat, the Katangese mercenaries fled to Angola, where they were employed by the Portuguese colonialists for more than ten years in fighting against the Angolan liberation movements. When the Soviet-Cuban invaders arrived in Angola during 1975, they took a tip from the Portuguese and hired the Katangese mercenaries to fight the Angolan people.
Now that the social-imperialists have succeeded in their conquest of Angola, they are dispatching the mercenaries to Shaba on a new mission. Their objective is to bring Shaba’s cobalt and copper under Soviet control and to undermine the Zaire government. Zaire is headed by Mobutu Sese Seko, who has been an outspoken opponent of Soviet aggression in Africa.
It is no secret that the Soviet Union has had its eyes on Zaire for some time. In the midst of the Angolan civil war, Soviet-Cuban troops launched at least two assaults on towns inside Zaire.
Repeated threats were made against the Mobutu government by the Kremlin. But Zaire stood up to this abuse and continued to oppose Soviet interference in the internal affairs of sovereign African countries.
Brezhnev and his cohorts are seeking to wipe out this type of opposition. Whether or not the invaders succeed in holding any territory, Brezhnev hopes that the war in Shaba will curtail mining operations, thus worsening the already severe economic crisis in Zaire. Under such circumstances, the USSR hopes to force a change of government, bringing about a regime more favorable to its interests.
This effort to destabilize the Mobutu government corresponds to stepped-up Soviet activity throughout southern and eastern Africa. Last week, Soviet President Nikolai Podgorny traveled to several African countries on the heels of a similar trip by Fidel Castro. Podgorny is the highest ranking Soviet official to ever visit southern Africa. Both trips were used to expand Soviet influence in the area.
The USSR, joined by its revisionist propaganda machines internationally, has rushed to cleanse its hands of any wrongdoing in Zaire. TASS, the Soviet press agency, simply referred to the invasion as an “uprising in southern Zaire.”
This view was echoed in the U.S. by the Daily World (newspaper of the revisionist Communist Party) and the centrist Guardian. Both newspapers clamor in unison that the invasion is a “fake.” Both papers deny that there is any Soviet or Cuban involvement in Zaire, calling the situation a “progressive uprising.”
What is the purpose of such talk? It only serves to lay the groundwork for intensified Soviet-Cuban activity under the banner of “support to a progressive uprising.” A similar banner was used to justify the massive Soviet-Cuban invasion of Angola, which resulted in the deaths of 150,000 Angolans.
Several African countries have condemned the invasion of Zaire and linked it clearly to other superpower plots in Africa. The Senegalese newspaper, Le Soleil, called the invasion “a challenge to the Organization of African Unity,” and said that the use of Katangese mercenaries in Zaire should be vigorously denounced.
In Zaire itself, more than 100,000 people participated in a demonstration March 22 against the invasion. They affirmed their support for the government and the Zairean armed forces and shouted “Victory belongs to the people!”
The Soviet-backed invasion of Zaire is yet another indication of the sharpening superpower rivalry internationally. The people of Zaire and the rest of Africa are fighting to drive both the U.S. wolf from the front door and the Soviet tiger from the back.