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The Joint Monitoring Commission (JMC): Background

The Joint Monitoring Commission (JMC)Tension between South Africa and Angola arose out of the presence of Swapo training, staging and logistic facilities in southern Angola.

Swapo began its terrorism in northern South, West Africa (SWA) in 1966, the first attack occurring on 26 August. Swapo initially concentrated on Caprivi, which offered the easiest targets for operations from bases in Zambia. The emphasis gradually shifted to Swapo's tribal home base, Owambo. This became more pronounced as the security situation in Angola deteriorated, easing access to Owambo from southern Angola. Zambia was also increasingly reluctant to allow operations from her territory.

By 1978 Swapo had effectively been required to leave Zambia and had also been driven out of south-eastern Angola by Unita forces which had become allied to South Africa after the MPLA seizure of power in Luanda in 1975. Swapo now concentrated almost entirely on Owambo, operating from bases in southern Angola, particularly in Cunene province.

Not surprisingly, this very favourable situation - a sanctuary and direct access to its tribal base allowed Swapo to conduct an effective campaign of terrorism and sabotage in Owambo. By 1978 this situation had become unacceptable. The SA Government concluded that there was no option but to seize the military initiative and strike at the terrorists where they were at their most vulnerable - in their bases and staging areas inside Angola. Operations were not, however, aimed against Angola or the Angolan people.

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