Mandela Seeks Firm US Support Fund Raising, Maintaining Pressure on Pretoria Are Goals of ANC Leader's Visit to Eight Cities. WORLD TOUR: US STOP

By John Battersby, writer of The Christian Science Monitor | The Christian Science Monitor, June 19, 1990 | Go to article overview

Mandela Seeks Firm US Support Fund Raising, Maintaining Pressure on Pretoria Are Goals of ANC Leader's Visit to Eight Cities. WORLD TOUR: US STOP


John Battersby, writer of The Christian Science Monitor, The Christian Science Monitor


NELSON MANDELA'S historic visit to the United States beginning tomorrow is likely to increase the influence of the African National Congress over US policy toward South Africa and boost his authority among black South Africans.

"Mandela being hailed as a hero in the world's most powerful nation - with its strong civil rights history - is positive symbolism which will play well in South Africa," says Natal University's Mervyn Frost.

Before his June 4 departure on a six-week, 14-nation tour, Mandela acknowledged the special role played by the US in the African National Congress's (ANC's) campaign to end white rule.

"The United States is the only country which has incorporated in law a measure making it an offense to trade with South Africa, and we thank them for that," said Mandela.

Despite the fact that the US is a latecomer in supporting the organization, the ANC recognizes that the US stance on sanctions gives Washington unique leverage, and says that the advantage should not be relinquished too soon.

"The primary political objective of the trip is to win the support of the American people and the Bush administration, and to ensure that sanctions are maintained until we are convinced that the negotiating process has become irreversible," says ANC national organizer Steve Tshwete.

The trip will also provide the ANC with its best opportunity for raising the funds needed to acquire and equip offices, to set up a newspaper, to buy media access, and to resettle some 20,000 exiles.

ANC officials in the US have appealed for from $100 to $200 million from the international community. They hope to collect more than $1 million in each US city Mandela visits. South African newspapers have been running front page reports about glittering fund-raising dinners where guests will pay $25,000 a plate. "Fund-raising is one of the most important aspects of the tour," Mr. Tshwete says.

But Mandela's most immediate need is to make sure that the ANC retains control of the agenda and sets the schedule for easing sanctions. "To lift them (sanctions) now could sink the whole negotiation process," Democratic Party economist Sampie Terreblanche told the financial daily Business Day. "Rather, when there is a clear indication that this is a genuine process, let Mandela call for an end to sanctions and disinvestment."

"If he (Mandela) achieves a standstill on sanctions, it will strengthen his position internally - both in respect of doubting youth and the collective ANC leadership," said a Western diplomat.

If the negotiation process that began with ANC-government talks in May is to remain on track, both Mandela and De Klerk must retain the support of their followers all the way to the negotiating table.

Even liberal South African opponents of sanctions are beginning to say that continued sanctions could promote negotiations.

Unchallenged statements Mandela made after recent meetings with French President Francois Mitterrand and West German Chancellor Helmut Kohl indicate that he has made headway in convincing South Africa's trading partners that the time has not yet arrived to lift sanctions. …

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