As the Cold War ended, in 1989 South African troops withdrew from Namibia, after an occupation of that territory that had lasted almost three quarters of a century, and Namibia moved towards independence. Parallel to that, Cuban military forces began withdrawing from Angola, and, in February 1990, the South African President announced that apartheid would be dismantled and his government would enter negotiations that would lead to a transition to democracy. What role did the ending of the Cold War play in bringing about those dramatic changes in southern Africa? By the time they took place, the region had long been deeply involved in the Cold War, which had exacerbated many local struggles, so logic suggests that the ending of the Cold War would have significantly affected the region, but how did it? The relationship between the global and the local is not as direct as was suggested by one senior South African diplomat, who replied, to my asking why the South African government had agreed in 1988 to withdraw from Namibia, with a one word answer: “Gorbachev.”1 While it is, of course, important to explore how the General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union influenced decisions taken in Pretoria, it should always be borne in mind that those decisions were influenced by a range of considerations, and that the Cold War is only part of the local story and may not be the main component.2 In this chapter I explore the relationship between the ending of the Cold War and the changes that took place in southern Africa by examining the impact of the different events that made up the end of the Cold War and by keeping the sequence of those events clearly in mind. As I will show, that relationship was not a simple one. The end of the Cold War was, of course, a process, in which key moments were the breaching of the Berlin Wall, on 9 November 1989, and the unification of the two Germanys, on 3 October 1990, while the dissolution of the Soviet Union in late December 1991 provides a convenient symbolic closing moment. Here 1989 will be taken as the key year and the main focus for discussion, but by then the Cold War had been winding down for some years, from soon after Mikhail Gorbachev became General Secretary in 1985. Some see this winding down as the beginning of the

end, but treating the winding down separately from the end, as I shall do, allows for a reading that does not see the one as inevitably leading to the other.3