A Diplomat's Story. Apartheid and Beyond 1969-1998, by Pieter Wolvaardt
From the foreword of: A Diplomat's Story. Apartheid and Beyond 1969-1998, by Pieter Wolvaardt.
Pieter Wolvaardt's 29-years as a career diplomat in the Department of Foreign Affairs ran from 1969 to 1998. In these recollections he deals with the age-old dilemma that all South African diplomats had to contend with, namely working around morally questionable government policies. His introduction to overseas service was in the exotic city of Rio de Janeiro. From there he was posted to London where activists demonstrating outside South Africa House were a constant reminder of the world's abhorrence of apartheid. He moved to Lisbon where he became engaged in efforts to gain the freedom of a South African POW in Angolan hands. All his postings afterwards, with the exception of occasional spells in Pretoria, were in Latin America — a continent he became a specialist in. He writes how Eddie Dunn, South Africa's Ambassador to El Salvador, was kidnapped and murdered by leftist guerrillas despite major efforts to effect his release. He was the only South African diplomat ever to have suffered this fate. In the apartheid days the government gave orders for the favela (slum) areas in Rio, mostly occupied by black Brazilians, to be secretly photographed. The bizarre idea was for them to be produced at the UN as a counter to Brazil's attacks on South Africa's racial policies. The move was abandoned when it was pointed out that this would probably result in Brazil severing diplomatic relations with South Africa. Other odd political situations arose like when South Africa was doing everything it could to normalise relations with Brazil, but it refused to allow Pele — arguably the world's most prominent soccer player — to play football in the country because he was black. In the late 60s moves were made to establish a South Atlantic Pact involving the South African, Brazilian and Argentinian navies. This had to be abandoned after a world-wide uproar about South Africa's apartheid policies. War broke out between Britain and Argentina on 2 April 1982 over the latter's invasion of the Falkland Islands. The author was on the Latin American desk in Pretoria and he dealt with the crisis on a daily basis. South Africa adopted a neutral stance — much of it concerning the British use or otherwise of the Simon's Town naval base. He reveals for the first time the inside story of how South Africa battled to maintain that neutrality. In May 1986 when he was South Africa's Head of Mission in Buenos Aires, Argentina, the SADF launched ground assaults by Special Forces against ANC targets in Zimbabwe and Botswana. Simultaneously SAAF jets struck ANC targets in Zambia. It was reputed that President PW Botha ordered the raids to make it impossible for the Commonwealth's Eminent Persons Group to continue with its political survey of South Africa. This resulted in the EPG packing their bags and leaving. But they weren't the only ones who had to pack their bags. Unfortunately for the author, Argentina decided to break diplomatic relations with South Africa over the incidents. He was declared persona non grata and expelled from the country. In early 90s the political situation began to normalise after President FW de Klerk lifted the ban on the ANC and other organisations. During this period the author travelled widely in Latin America establishing and normalising South Africa's relations there. [...]
This is an excerpt from A Diplomat's Story. Apartheid and Beyond 1969-1998, by Pieter Wolvaardt.
Title: A Diplomat's Story
Subtitle: Apartheid and Beyond 1969-1998
Author: Pieter Wolvaardt
Cape Town, South Africa 2005
ISBN 1919854150 / ISBN 1-919854-15-0
ISBN 9781919854151 / ISBN 978-1-91-985415-1
Softcover, 17 x 24 cm, 336 pages, numerous photos
Wolvaardt, Pieter im Namibiana-Buchangebot
A Diplomat's Story. Apartheid and Beyond 1969-1998
A Diplomat's Story is a memoir about serving with the Department of Foreign Affairs of South Africa in times of Apartheid and beyond.