Soviet’s role in S. Africa studied

By Shawnna Lynch

An NIU political science assistant professor has written the first book to examine the foreign policy implications of Soviet involvement with national liberation movements in South Africa.

Daniel Kempton’s book, entitled “Soviet Strategy Toward Southern Africa: The National Liberation Movement Connection,” focuses on the development of Soviet ties to the national liberation movements, the amount and types of assistance provided by the Soviets, and the impact of the relationship on the movements themselves. It also contrasts two phases of Soviet strategy — one revolutionary and the other diplomatic.

Kempton describes the situation in South Africa as “a region in great turmoil with potential civil wars and national conflicts.”

Kempton also concerns himself with the interests of this land by both superpowers (United States and the Soviet Union), with neither possessing dominance of the area.

Steve Franklin of NIU Public Information said, “Kempton’s view is interesting and imformative because it is that of the Soviets. The book allows for a global perspective through Soviet policy.”

The focus of Kempton’s studies are on Zimbabwe, Angola, and South Africa, which were supported by the Soviets in revolutions and rioting during 1974 and 1975.

The major areas of Kempton’s observations are the Movimento Popular de Libertacao de Angola (MPLA) in Angola, the Zimbabwe African People’s Union (ZAPU), and the African National Congress in South Africa (ANC).

“The Soviet Union has shifted its policy in South Africa dramatically,” Kempton said. “While they still support the revolutionary movement, they are now talking directly to the South African government. That’s a major change and a major breakthrough.”

Kempton received information for his book through interviews with Soviet scholars and government officials including the foreign minister of Zimbabwe, who is actively involved in the problems of South Africa, Kempton said.

Kempton’s book shows that the Soviets are re-evaluating their foreign policies and looking to reduce their financial involvement in the region.

“Hopefully this will provide less conflict and we (the superpowers) can come to a mutual understanding and allow the local groups to run their own affairs,” Kempton said.

Franklin said, “This book is relatively one of a very few, if not one of a kind on this subject of South Africa from a Soviet viewpoint.”