Mandela – The “Great Statesman”
Mandela with SACP boss, Joe Slovo
“Nelson Mandela is a symbol, an icon, one of the world’s most famous statesmen, recognised and revered by all. He dines with royalty, associates with the world’s great leaders and his opinion is sought and valued on all weighty matters. He has achieved an almost divine status in the world, equal to that of the Pope or the late Princess Diana.”
Most people on the left of the political spectrum would agree wholeheartedly with the above quote. But they run into an unexpected problem when someone asks “why is he considered such a great statesman?”
The problem is that Mandela, apart from having a likeable personality, has achieved next to nothing in his relatively short political career which saw South Africa rapidly decline to the status of the world’s most violent and crime-ridden country, and, to add to the confusion, his greatest friends are communists and dictators like Fidel Castro, Moammar Qaddafi, Yasser Arafat and Saddam Hussein. His ex-wife Winnie Mandela, whom he quickly jettisoned when it became clear she was a considerable embarassment to his political career, is a self-confessed advocate of terrorism and violence and has even committed murder.
In his public statements and speeches Mandela is always critical of the democratic countries of the west, but has nothing but praise for the remaining communist dictatorships of the world. He condemns mistakes and controversial policies of the west, but refuses to publicly condemn the genocides and brutal repression of current or former communist countries; he is supposedly a “champion of freedom and democracy”, the “hero of oppressed people everywhere” but considers dictatorships like Cuba and Libya shining beacons of freedom and justice…
Perhaps this is what makes Mandela such a revered statesman – chameleon-like he can advocate democracy and freedom as the highest ideals one day and hold up Cuba or Libya as shining examples for the world to follow the next day. And his admirers do not even notice the contradiction, or worse, they agree with him…
Many of his apologists optimistically claim that Mandela may well have had “communist leanings” in his past, but that he has since put all that behind him and become a moderate in his political beliefs. They are perhaps unaware of his fulsome praise of a communist dictatorship as late as 1991 when he and Winnie went to what they called their “second home” – Cuba – to celebrate the communist revolution with Fidel Castro. In his speech Mandela said:
“Long live the Cuban Revolution. Long live comrade Fidel Castro… Cuban internationalists have done so much for African independence, freedom, and justice. We admire the sacrifices of the Cuban people in maintaining their independence and sovereignty in the face of a vicious imperialist campaign designed to destroy the advances of the Cuban revolution. We too want to control our destiny… There can be no surrender. It is a case of freedom or death. The Cuban revolution has been a source of inspiration to all freedom-loving people.”
Mandela’s adulation of Castro and Cuba almost outshines that of his own admirers. In May of 1990 Mandela, visiting America, went on record, referring to Cuba:
There’s one thing where that country stands out head and shoulders above the rest. That is in its love for human rights and liberty.
A week later in Libya, he lauded Qaddafi’s:
Committment to the fight for peace and human rights in the world.
While in America Mandela also made public statements that amounted to support for violence and terrorism in the furtherance of political aims. In a speech in Harlem, referring to four Puerto Rican terrorists who shot and wounded five US Congressmen in 1954, he said:
We support the cause of anyone who is fighting for self-determination, and our attitude is the same, no matter who it is. I would be honored to sit on the platform with the four comrades you refer to.
Suitable “comrades” for Mandela indeed. He was himself originally incarcerated, not for his political views, but for involvement in 23 different acts of sabotage and conspiring to overthrow the government. He and his fellow conspirators of the ANC and the South African Communist Party were caught by the police while in the possession of 48,000 Soviet-made anti-personnel mines and 210,000 hand-grenades!*
It is also interesting to note that in later years Mandela was offered his freedom by none other than the South African President Botha if he would simply renounce the use of terrorism, but Mandela refused to do this.
Winnie Mandela has been equally fulsome in her praise of Communism and violence. In 1986 she was reported in Moscow’s communist party newspaperPravda as saying:
The Soviet Union is the torch-bearer for all our hopes and aspirations. We have learned and are continuing to learn resilience and bravery from the Soviet people, who are an example to us in our struggle for freedom, a model of loyalty to internationalist duty. In Soviet Russia, genuine power of the people has been transformed from dreams into reality. The land of the Soviets is the genuine friend and ally of all peoples fighting against the dark forces of world reaction.
and again at Munsieville, on April 13, 1986, she said:
With our boxes of matches and our necklaces we shall liberate this country.
referring here to her own specific brand of democratic political activity whereby anyone who opposed her would be bound hand and foot and then burned to death by means of a tyre filled with gasoline being placed around the neck and set on fire.
Has Mandela since changed his tune in any way?
In September, 2002, Mandela gave an interview to “Newsweek” and the following summary gives his views on the situation with regard to the Iraq crisis:
You will come to the conclusion that the attitude of the United States of America is a threat to world peace…. It (war against Iraq) is clearly a decision that is motivated by George W. Bush’s desire to please the arms and oil industries in the United States of America…When there were white (UN) secretary generals you didn’t find this question of the United States and Britain going out of the United Nations. But now that you’ve had black secretary generals like Boutros Boutros Ghali, like Kofi Annan, they do not respect the United Nations. They have contempt for it… It is the men around him (Cheney and Rumsfeld) who are dinosaurs, who do not want him (President Bush) to belong to the modern age… The only man, the only person who wants to help Bush move to the modern era is Gen. Colin Powell.
No-one will deny Mandela the right to hold views opposed to a war on Iraq, but he is here revealing his own racist attitude to world politics – only white leaders are a threat to peace, and especially so when there are black secretary generals of the U.N. And in case we don’t get the message he singles out the black member of the US administration, Colin Powell, as the only exception! (And, one could add, when it suits Mandela’s argument, the Egyptian Boutros Ghali, suddenly qualifies as a “black” man…) The race card is one that is always brought out by Africans when they lack valid arguments, and it has always been a standard ploy of Communist rhetoric.
To Mandela’s way of thinking, it is capitalist greed that is preventing a one-world U.N. Government – in February 2003 he was reported as saying:
“if there is a country that has committed unspeakable atrocities in the world, it is the United States of America…Iraq produces 64 percent of the oil in the world. What Bush wants is to get hold of that oil.”
Apart from displaying his Communist sentiments, Mandela here also reveals his ignorance of world economics – Iraq produces only 5% of world oil exports, not 64%. He also makes no mention of the huge debts of money that Iraq owes France, Germany and Russia, and that it is just possible that they are opposed to the war because they would like those debts paid.
If Mandela’s opposition to the United States comes as a surprise to some, or are dismissed as an expression of particularly strong feelings about the Iraq crisis, we should note that Mandela is nothing if not consistent. His views are always anti-American and pro-Communist, and always have been. In his book “The Struggle is My Life”, a collection of his writings, we read in a piece dated 1958:
…the people of Asia and Africa have seen through the slanderous campaign conducted by the U.S.A. against the Socialist countries. They know that their independence is threatened not by any of the countries in the Socialist camp but by the U.S.A., who has surrounded their continent with military bases. The Communist bogey is an American stunt to distract the attention of the people of Africa from the real issue facing them, namely, American imperialism. (pp 76)
* The full list of munitions and charges read as follows:
• One count under the South African Suppression of Communism Act No. 44 of 1950, charging that the accused committed acts calculated to further the achievement of the objective of communism;
• One count of contravening the South African Criminal Law Act (1953), which prohibits any person from soliciting or receiving any money or articles for the purpose of achieving organized defiance of laws and country; and
• Two counts of sabotage, committing or aiding or procuring the commission of the following acts:
1) The further recruitment of persons for instruction and training, both within and outside the Republic of South Africa, in:
(a) the preparation, manufacture and use of explosives—for the purpose of committing acts of violence and destruction in the aforesaid Republic, (the preparation and manufacture of explo- sives, according to evidence submitted, included 210,000 hand grenades, 48,000 anti-personnel mines, 1,500 time devices, 144 tons of ammonium nitrate, 21.6 tons of aluminum powder and a ton of black powder);
(b) the art of warfare, including guerrilla warfare, and military training generally for the purpose in the aforesaid Republic;
(ii) Further acts of violence and destruction, (this includes 193 counts of terrorism committed between 1961 and 1963);
(iii) Acts of guerrilla warfare in the aforesaid Republic;
(iv) Acts of assistance to military units of foreign countries when involving the aforesaid Republic;
(v) Acts of participation in a violent revolution in the aforesaid Republic, whereby the accused, injured, damaged, destroyed, rendered useless or unserviceable, put out of action, obstructed, with or endangered:
- (a) the health or safety of the public;
- (b) the maintenance of law and order;
- (c) the supply and distribution of light, power or fuel;
- (d) postal, telephone or telegraph installations;
- (e) the free movement of traffic on land; and
- (f) the property, movable or immovable, of other persons or of the state.
Source: The State v. Nelson Mandela et al, Supreme Court of South Africa, Transvaal Provincial Division, 1963-1964, Indictment.