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TRC Final Report

Page Number (Original) 413

Paragraph Numbers 50 to 57

Volume 2

Chapter 5

Subsection 8

Homeland armies

50 To substantiate the semblance of independence, African armies were created in each of the TBVC homelands. The Transkei Defence Force (TDF) was established in 1975, followed by the Bophuthatswana Defence Force (BDF) in 1977, the Venda Defence Force (VDF) in 1979 and the Ciskei Defence Force (CDF) in 1980. Each maintained a sizeable number of enlisted soldiers and was supported by the necessary staff complements such as intelligence and logistics.

51 The existence of these armies raised profound questions of strategy and security for the South African state. Indeed, if the homelands attained any semblance of real independence, then by implication their governments would be free to pursue defence policies that might diverge from those propounded by the security structures of the central state. The South African government sought to resolve this dilemma by rendering the homeland armies dependent on the SADF for equipment, training and leadership. The Republic also sought to tie the independent homelands into regional defence agreements. As originally formulated by the Botha administration, the aim was to create a ‘constellation of states’ throughout southern Africa, united in a common defence against the Communist onslaught.

52 In 1982, this programme was scaled down to multilateral co-operation agreements between South Africa and the TBVC states. The agreements covered a range of issues, but security matters were at their core. When eventually finalised, the arrangement explicitly linked defence co-operation with the co-ordination of labour mobility, development initiatives and monetary stability. Multilateral agreements were supplemented by the signing of extradition treaties and South Africa’s erection of fences on the borders of homelands adjoining neighbouring African countries. The agreements were founded on two fundamental provisions: first, that the South African and homeland governments would not use armed force to challenge each other’s political or territorial sovereignty, and second, that neither party would allow its territory to be used as a staging ground for attacks on the other by third parties.

53 From their establishment in the late 1970s until well into the 1980s, homeland armies developed rapidly along lines generally approved by Pretoria. In this period the TBVC armies did not pose political or security threats to the South African government. By 1982, the Defence White Paper explicitly acknowledged the government’s favourable view on the contribution of the homeland armies. It stated that “the SADF recognises the supportive capabilities of the Independent States and encourages their participation in an overall Southern African military treaty organisation against a common enemy”. By this time, the bantustan militaries had been integrated into the SADF’s ‘area war’ strategy, designed to counter the threat posed by the armed struggle of the African National Congress (ANC).

54 The 1st Transkei Battalion was established some time after the Transkei formally acceded to ‘self-governing’ status in 1963. At independence, the battalion had a total complement of 254 men, of which all of the officers were white seconded members of the SADF. By 1977, a voluntary national service scheme was introduced and the training of recruits within the Transkei was increased.

55 From the outset, diplomatic squabbles between Transkei and South Africa complicated their military relationship. In April 1978, Transkei broke off all diplomatic relations with South Africa, ostensibly over Pretoria’s decision to incorporate East Griqualand (historically part of the Cape) into Natal rather than Transkei. Consequently, Matanzima renounced Transkei’s non-aggression pact with South Africa and expelled all twenty-seven of South Africa’s advisors to the TDF’s 320-strong army. These moves were belied, however, by the Transkei’s continued dependence on South Africa for arms.

56 Following the departure of South African personnel, the discipline and efficiency of the Transkei forces rapidly deteriorated. Senior officers were accused of attempting to defraud the homeland government of R3 million and of involvement in an attempted police coup in 1980. In the absence of the SADF members, the Transkei hired former Rhodesian Special Forces members through a private company, Security Services International. This group, headed by Lieutenant Colonel Ron Reid-Daly, had close links with SADF Military Intelligence (MI) and was probably acting with SADF approval if not active support. Reid-Daly, the former commander of the Selous Scouts, was appointed as the chief of the TDF and charged with reorganising the homeland’s army, bringing with him some thirty-five colleagues who had served in Rhodesia.

57 By 1980, Transkei and South African politicians had papered over the diplomatic break and re-established official contact. The rapprochement was ostensibly based on South Africa’s willingness to re-negotiate land issues with the Transkei. However, at least as important was the financial crisis that had engulfed the homeland as a result of its break from Pretoria. South Africa’s transfer of R118 million to the Transkei in April 1980 was not without its own costs, however. The payment ended a deal whereby the Transkeian government would have received a loan from Nigeria (considered a hostile source by South Africa) to help finance a harbour, train the army and police, and establish a Nigerian military presence in the homeland.

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