New Internationalist

Mandela’s no tourist

Issue 414

True tales of a mixed-up world

As the world celebrates the 90th birthday of the Nobel laureate and freedom fighter, Nelson Mandela, the United States is hastily rushing through paperwork to repeal the elder statesperson’s appearance on the US Government’s official Terror Watch List. As a result of being on a list that includes the likes of Osama bin Laden as well as that mega nasty bad-guy Cat Stevens (aka Yusuf Islam), Mandela and any member of the African National Congress (ANC) may not enter the United States without a special waiver from the US Government and are automatically flagged for questioning by Homeland Security officials.

‘This is a country with which we now have excellent relations, South Africa, but it’s frankly a rather embarrassing matter that I still have to waive in my own counterpart, the foreign minister of South Africa, not to mention the great leader Nelson Mandela,’ admitted a flustered US Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice.

While the US Government is trying to suggest that the terror-listing is a mere bureaucratic gaffe, it has recently still been employed to bar entry to prominent ANC members. In 2002, former ANC chair Tokyo Sexwale was denied a visa. Clearly the title ‘chairman’ invoked images of Mao. Just last year, South Africa’s ambassador to the United States from 2002 to 2006, Barbara Masekela, was denied entry to visit her ailing cousin and didn’t get a waiver until after her cousin had died.

While US officials are now bending over backwards to praise Mandela and the freedom struggle, the inconvenient truth is that current Vice-President Dick Cheney voted in 1985 against a US House of Representatives resolution calling for the release of Nelson Mandela from 23 years of imprisonment. He also voted 10 times against motions to impose sanctions against the former apartheid regime. 

There are apparently some 325,000 names on the US terror list, a number which has quadrupled in the last five years, in all likelihood with names of commie-dy scriptwriters, grannies protesting the war, and people who can distinguish between ‘te-rror-ists’ and ‘tour-ists’ – unlike some linguistically challenged presidents we know.

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