Five thousand miles from the battle in Cunene province, the Angolan government has been forced to open a new front on the fifth floor of an office block in London’s Jermyn Street, near Piccadilly Circus.
The operation is centred on Mr Adao Rodrigues Malo, the Angolan Director of Information and Propaganda, who spent hours yesterday hunched over a telex machine sending military communiques, policy statements, and requests for help around the world.
On his desk, the strips of telex gather in piles, sketching out Luanda’s view of the battle: 45,000 South African troops; air strikes against the villages of Chama and Tchihemba; troops only 9 miles from the provincial capital Lubango; no accurate assessment of casualties.
Mr Malo replies with denunciations of the “puppets, renegades, and mercenaries and South African forces acting as proxies of Western imperialism” and with cautious words on the role of Cuban and East German troops.
He points to the new emphasis of South African statements. “Not long ago they were claiming that they were in hot pursuit of Swapo. Now they present another version. They say they are threatened by missiles.”
He made no attempt to deny that the missiles are there. “Of course the world knows that we do not manufacture our own arms. We have to look for them where they are available. If we have them, it is for our defence, not for attacking anybody. We are a sovereign country.”