In the mid-1980s, township violence raged in South Africa and one of the Cold War’s most vicious proxy conflicts devastated Angola. “Total onslaught” was writ large across the horizon. It was then that a foreign commodity trader with connections to all stakeholders in the region became the lifeline for top-secret contacts. To build trust, he organized a vast prisoners’ exchange that opened the road for Mandela’s eventual release. A year later, in 1988, South Africa’s forces and 50,000 Cuban troops began withdrawing from Angola. In John LeCarré style, the land of apartheid and the front line states came out of the Cold War long before the fall of the Berlin Wall. Within fourteen months, Mandela walked out of jail – a free man and, soon, South Africa’s first democratically elected President.
In PLOT FOR PEACE, the protagonists of this high-risk venture – African heads of state, battle-tested generals, international diplomats, secret operatives, and anti-apartheid icons such as Winnie Mandela and Thabo Mbeki – recount the true story of how the front line states brought an end to apartheid and Ollivier’s remarkable hidden contributions to this historic transformation. Ollivierunwinds the documentary’s narrative thread inside the labyrinth of Southern Africa. He is the lens through which PLOT FOR PEACE finds its focus and leads us through a rugged landscape of moral dilemmas. To Mbeki and militants for transparency, Ollivier was a sanctions buster, a secret go-between, a French spy. For Winnie Mandela and Mozambique’s former President Chissano, Ollivier was a trusted friend and a man of bold vision. Ollivier received high honors from both the last stalwart of apartheid, P.W. Botha and the first president of the new South Africa, Nelson Mandela.