Hunt for Savimbi intensifies as UNITA
military capacity crumbles
The Angolan army, FAA, has continued to inflict military defeats on Jonas Savimbi's UNITA movement, which is showing growing signs of internal disintegration.
FAA's belief that Jonas Savimbi is still in Angola contradicts rumours circulating that he has fled to either Uganda or Rwanda following the routing of his army from his central highland strongholds of Bailundo and Andulo. The head of FAA, General Joao de Matos, told the television station TPA on 15 November that "we know where Savimbi is. We are tracking him, we are bombarding him every day and we are going to keep going until we capture him or kill him."
A senior source in Luanda has indicated that there was an incident in Moxico province, when two South African-registered helicopters were intercepted whilst on a mission to evacuate Savimbi and his senior aides from the area. This incident has not been confirmed, but would account for the confidence FAA has that it has located Savimbi. FAA has surrounded a large number of UNITA fighters in the Cazombo area of Moxico province, and is reportedly bombarding the area with artillery and jet bombers.
The Angolan army has continued to advance against other UNITA positions. On 18 November the town of Cuangar in Cuando Cubango province in the south of the country was retaken by FAA, which states that 400 UNITA fighters posed little resistance before surrendering. This one hour battle was witnessed by Namibians living just across the border. According to a report in the official news agency Angop, the 400 will be incorporated into FAA.
According to the state-owned Jornal de Angola the army is preparing to launch an attack on the nearby town of Calai which is said to be a warehouse for diamonds, ivory and timber stolen by UNITA. FAA has also recaptured Lucusse and Lumbala Nguimbo in Moxico province, and Macocola in Uige province. According to FAA, by 3 November it had control of 13 out of 16 municipalities in Uige province.
General de Matos stated on 15 November that UNITA's conventional military capacity had been disrupted by 80 per cent. He appealed for Savimbi's followers to surrender, stating that, "Those who lay down weapons and surrender will be welcomed because we don't have visceral enemies. We don't have enemies we can't reconcile with. The only one we will not reconcile with is Savimbi. With all the rest, our arms are open, our doors are open". UNITA still has a capacity to inflict terror upon the civilian population. On 9 November UNITA fired shells at Kuito, and the World Food Programme was forced to suspend aid flights into the city for a day.
There have also been reports that UNITA is laying thousands of mines. In one case, thirty people were injured when a truck they were travelling in hit an anti-tank mine on 12 November.
The Angolan government has also faced international criticism over FAA's laying of landmines.
Some of the increase in injuries caused by landmines may also be due to heavy rains displacing previously laid mines, and by people returning to rural areas following the removal of UNITA from these areas.
Jonas Savimbi's internal control appears to be crumbling following the series of military defeats inflicted by FAA since it launched its counter-offensive in September. Several key UNITA figures have defected to the Angolan government, and there are reports that Jonas Savimbi has murdered other key aides.
On 10 November a senior UNITA General, Jacinto Bandua, gave himself over to government forces. According to interviews given by General Bandua, he joined UNITA in 1976, and was appointed a general in 1993. He was Jonas Savimbi's aide-de-camp and head of UNITA's logistics department (this version of events was contradicted by Africa Analysis on 26 November).
According to testimony from General Bandua given at a press conference in Catumbela on 17 November, several leading hardline Generals have been detained on the orders of Savimbi, including General Altino Sapalalo Bock, General Numa, General Antero Morias Vieira and General Armindo Tarzan. The first three were allegedly arrested following their failure to withstand the FAA counter-offensive, whilst General Tarzan apparently came under suspicion. This version of events was denied by Savimbi's spokesperson, Lukamba Paulo "Gato", who rang the BBC Portuguese Service and placed General Bock on the line, reported the London-based Africa Analysis.
According to sources in FAA, Brigadier Grito, Lieutenant-Colonel Octavio and Major Quito Chingufo were also under arrest. FAA states that the bodies of General Tarzan and General Antero Morais Vieira were found in a mass grave at the confluence of the Cuvale and Kunhinga rivers. Reports state that General Bandua's close relative (either his brother or cousin) General Fernando Elias Bandua, was also found in the mass grave, although there is no independent confirmation of this.
Another senior military defector is Lieutenant-Colonel Marcolino Ngongo, a former bodyguard of Savimbi.
The effect of the disintegration of UNITA's military structures was highlighted in an article by the UN news agency IRIN on 19 November. Quoting a "Western diplomat with access to a wide range of intelligence and political reporting on Angola" the article stated that since the government retook the central highland strongholds of Andulo and Bailundo there has been "a considerable drop in radio communications among UNITA units. They are almost silent now, and this is an indication both of a crisis in the leadership as well as the loss of communications equipment".
The diplomatic source continued that reports of a mass grave containing the remains of some UNITA generals were "credible" and that "we are getting reports that Savimbi is really furious, that he is on a drunken binge again. This behaviour lends further credibility to the interpretation we have that he has suffered a major defeat. Another factor is that UNITA's propaganda machine has been silent of late".
On the political front, Anibal Kandeya, the UNITA representative in Britain, has returned to Angola, where he has joined the anti-Savimbi faction, UNITA-Renovada. Mr Kandeya's bank accounts in Britain have been frozen by the Bank of England, and he left Britain prior to his appeal against the decision of the British Home Office to expel him from the country in line with UN sanctions against named UNITA officials.
There have also been defections from inside Savimbi's family. Savimbi's son, Araujo Domingos Sakaita, has returned to Angola from Togo, and gave a lengthy interview in Jornal de Angola on 2 November. In the interview he states that Savimbi is responsible for the murder of his mother, and reveals links between Savimbi and the heads of state of Togo, Burkina Faso, Gabon and Cote D'Ivoire.
One of Savimbi's daughters, Airine Yondela Sakaita, has also publicly come out against her father.
Britain targets Savimbi
Britain's Minister of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Peter Hain, has made a watershed speech for British policy, signalling that his Government is now targeting governments, companies and individuals who are profiteering from Jonas Savimbi's determination to continue the war in Angola.
Speaking in London on 20 November at the Annual Conference of Action for Southern Africa, ACTSA, the Minister was candid about the past failure of international policy towards Angola. Peter Hain stressed that upon his appointment his first decision was to prioritise Angola, and since then the Government has put extra resources and diplomatic energy into isolating and defeating UNITA.
He pointed out that the target is not the supporters of UNITA, but Jonas Savimbi, and that "the blood of hundreds of thousands of Angolans drip from his hands". He continued that Savimbi is "as slippery as a snake. His word is worthless. So I want to deliver a clear message to UNITA: get rid of Savimbi as your leader - and quickly."
To push forward this policy, Hain revealed that three strands were being actively promoted.
First, he had visited the United States to agree joint action with President Clinton's Africa Secretary, Susan Rice, and has also been to Paris to ask the French to join in more vigorous action.
Second, he warned that he was going to look into the sanctions busting by countries, companies and individuals. The information is to be passed on to the Chair of the UN Sanctions Committee, Robert Fowler, and the transgressors will be "named and shamed".
Third, the Minister welcomed the decision of De Beers to halt the buying of Angolan diamonds, and called on other diamond companies to follow suit, warning that otherwise they could face consumer boycotts. He revealed that he has commissioned a study on the viability of a global certification scheme to help crack down on the illicit diamond trade. He warned that any action must not threaten the diamond-reliant economies of countries such as Namibia and Botswana, and promised to work with them to regulate the diamond trade.
The British Government and the Bank of England has already taken action against UNITA bank accounts, and the Minister revealed that several have already been frozen. He promised that "we must track down Savimbi's assets whether these are secretly deposited in nearby West Africa or elsewhere".
International pressure on Savimbi increases
International action against Savimbi was stepped up in November with both the Southern African Development Community, SADC, and the Commonwealth making moves to strengthen sanctions against the rebels.
SADC heads of state agreed on 14 November to speed up their assistance programme to the Angolan government. The leaders who met in the Western Cape, South Africa, were due to discuss the matter for half an hour, but the meeting continued for two and a half.
A source told SAPA that, "because Angola is not asking us to come and fight there, the leaders feel we ought to be doing more to help the government there. As a result they agreed that a real, dynamic co-ordinated programme should be put in place to deal with the Angolan government's humanitarian request".
The following day in Durban, South Africa, at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, CHOGM, a communiqué was released stating that the Commonwealth governments were gravely concerned about the continued suffering of the people of Angola due to UNITA's non-compliance with the Lusaka Protocol and the relevant UN Security Council Resolutions.
The communiqué urged the international community to "support the work of the United Nations Security Council Sanctions Committee on Angola".
In a separate move, the former President of South Africa, Nelson Mandela, stated on 7 November that Jonas Savimbi would never be welcome in South Africa.
Zimbabwe rejects allegations of military assistance
The Zimbabwean Minister of Defence, Moven Mahachi, has firmly denied allegations that 2,000 crack troops from the Commando's have been operating in Angola.
According to a report in the Zimbabwe Independent on 5 November, the troops are commanded by Brigadier General Kachana, and have been in the country for four months.
Meanwhile, the South African Press Association reported on 15 November that the leader of the rebel Congolese Liberation Movement (MLC), Jean-Pierre Bemba, has denied allegations by President Laurent Kabila that UNITA has sent soldiers to the Democratic Republic of Congo to fight alongside the MLC. He said "we are not linked to UNITA...we ask Angola to send observers to territory under our control so that they can investigate these claims and see for themselves that they are not true".
UN warns humanitarian situation will deteriorate
The United Nations has launched its Consolidated Inter-Agency Appeal for Angola for the year 2000, with the warning that by the middle of next year there will be more people in need of assistance than at the end of 1999, with the agricultural harvests in early 2000 expected to fall far short of production requirements.
The 1999 Appeal was increased from $66 million to $106 million in July due to the increase in aid needed in response to UNITA laying siege to the major cities of Malange, Huambo and Kuito. The UN considers that the "donor community responded quickly to the revised Appeal requirements covering 71.7 percent, or $82,127,986 of the Appeal by 8 October 1999".
The 2000 Appeal has risen to $258,515,854, with by far the largest chunk, $214 million, being earmarked for food security. The Appeal hopes to raise $20 million for nutrition, health, water and sanitation, and relief and survival; $14 million for co-ordination, security and support services; and $9 million for education and protection.
Humanitarian crisis continues
Around the country there continues to be a serious humanitarian crisis. In the city of Huambo there are about 200,000 people reliant on food aid. In Huila province 823 newly displaced people registered at the beginning of October, suffering from malnourishment, malaria, anaemia and diarrhoea. A survey in the town of Matala in Huila province by the NGO Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF-Spain) found that 13 percent of the population was close to death by starvation.
A recent survey in the city of Negage found a malnutrition rate of 43 percent among newly displaced children, and the number is increasing.
The situation in the city of Malange has eased slightly, with malnutrition among children under five falling from 32 percent in June to 21 percent in September.
However, with fighting reaching new parts of the country, new refugees are straining the resources of relief agencies. According to a UNHCR official in Namibia on 29 November, 2,400 refugees have crossed into the country from Angola over the previous ten days. The official called on the international community to help sustain the UNHCR assistance.
There has been a similar influx across the Zambian border, where according to the UNHCR 3,700 have crossed since 8 October.
Government releases $20 million for displaced
The Angolan government announced on 9 November that it will make $20 million available for seeds and logistics in an attempt to get displaced people to grow their own food.
The announcement was made by Social Welfare Minister, Albino Malungo.
The government plans to release a further $34 million for the period January - June 2000 for humanitarian assistance, and $20 million for July to August 2000.
Agreement sought over role of UN
Discussions are continuing between the United Nations and the Angolan government over the role of the recently approved United Nations Office in Angola (UNOA), which was formed following UN Security Council Resolution 1268 on 15 October.
According to a report on 3 November from the UN news agency IRIN the Angolan government has rejected a political role for the thirty member mission, and is insisting that it concentrates on humanitarian assistance and the strengthening of the government's human rights capacity.
However, Resolution 1268 states that the aim of UNOA is to "liaise with the political, military, police and other civilian authorities, with a view to exploring effective measures for restoring peace, assisting the Angolan people in the area of capacity-building, humanitarian assistance, the promotion of human rights, and coordinating other activities".
Where the UN and the Angolan government do agree is the continued importance of the Lusaka Protocol. The Angolan government has rejected any attempt to renegotiate the Lusaka Protocol, and states that it has carried out its obligations. It has blamed both Jonas Savimbi and the UN for the failure to disarm and demobilise the UNITA army.
Whilst the Government has appealed to UNITA members to carry out national reconciliation, it has steadfastly rejected any further talks with Jonas Savimbi.
New currency introduced
The Angolan government has decided to introduce a new currency between 1 December 1999 and 31 May 2000. The Kwanza-KZ will replace the Kwanza Readjustado (Kzr).
The new currency cuts six zeros off the Kzr, so five million Kzr. will be replaced by five Kz.