The unprecedented coverage of Nelson and Winnie Mandela's New York City tour displayed the power of the mass media and showed that it can be used to promote progressive causes.
--People's Daily World, June 30th
There are not many true statements to be found in the pages of the U.S. Communist Party's official newspaper; but, given that in the communist lexicon "progressive" always has been synonymous with "socialist/communist," perhaps no truer statement has been written concerning the recent Mandela media orgy. Visiting presidents, popes, and potentates have not come close to receiving the extensive adulatory coverage lavished on the terrorist duo. Even Comrade Gorbachev, another media darling, suffered by comparison.
As the People's Daily World put it, it was "unprecedented" — not only for New York City, but for the nation as well. Day after day as they traversed the country, the smiling Mandelas, usually with arms raised in the communist clenched-fist salute, dominated the front pages of the press and the television news programming. It was Winnie on Donahue being heralded by tearful, adoring fans as a "messenger from God"; Nelson on the cover of Time under the title "A Hero in America"; Nelson and Winnie at star-studded soirees in Manhattan and Beverly Hills where show-biz celebrities, politicians, and radical-chic business executives scrambled over one another to pay up to $50,000 apiece to bask in the Mandela media glow; a special ABC-TV "town hall" meeting with the Mandelas on The Koppel Report, with a continuation on Nightline; the Mandela ticker tape parade; Mandela addressing a joint session of Congress; the Mandelas appearing before worshipful multitudes at football stadiums. And on and on.
It did not take long for the image-makers to elevate Mandela from the heroic to the mythic to the messianic. At one of his first stops in New York, at a gathering of left-wing clergymen at the radical Riverside Church, he was declared to be "the moral leader of the world." From much of the reverential media treatment that followed, it's probably safe to assume that many of the media pundits share that view of Mandela the god-man.
Targeted for Assassination
Into the midst of this media-created Mandela love-fest stepped a black man from South Africa virtually unknown in America, but widely known, respected, and admired in his native land. He is particularly well-known by Nelson Mandela and his comrades in the African National Congress, and hated and feared by them. He is Tomsanqa Linda, former mayor of Ibhayi township, a municipality of over 400,000 black South Africans. He has been a forceful and unyielding foe of the ANC and the South African Communist Party.
The ANC targeted Mayor Linda for assassination five years ago, and their terrorist squads have made many attempts on his life. His home was petrol-bombed and burned to the ground. So was his business. And the homes of his parents, his sister, and other friends and relatives. The ANC, on their radio propaganda program broadcast from Lusaka, Zambia, took credit for these actions and have repeatedly issued death threats against Linda.
With violence and death threats escalating, Mayor Linda was forced to take his family into "exile" in another part of the country where they would be safe. Unable to carry out his official functions under these circumstances, Linda resigned as mayor of Ibhayi in 1987. He continues, however, as the president of the Eastern Province Council Association, an organization of councilors and mayors representing 74 townships with a total population of nearly 14 million. He is also co-president of the United Christian Conciliation Party.
Exploding the Myth
Fully aware of the danger to himself, the intrepid mayor came to the United States for a national media tour, preceding Nelson Mandela by one or two days in every city on the Mandela tour schedule. "I decided that, regardless of the danger, I must tell the American people the truth about this man and the movement he represents," said Tomsanqa Linda. "We are fighting for our lives and our freedom in South Africa, but, contrary to what you may hear, it is not the government that is the main threat to black people, but Mandela and his communist, terrorist ANC."
Mayor Linda was sponsored by the American Opinion Speakers Bureau of The John Birch Society. According to Don Fotheringham, manager of the speakers bureau, the Birch Society decided that Mandela must not go unchallenged on his triumphal tour. "The stakes are just too high — for the people of America, South Africa, and the Free World — to allow Mandela and the terrorist ANC to be treated as royalty and to be imposed on South Africa as the legitimate rulers by our government," said Fotheringham. Finding a black leader from South Africa who was willing to risk the wrath of the ANC by exposing Mandela on a U.S. tour was no easy task. "The police in Soweto said that the ANC had let it be known that to do so was to automatically sign one's own death sentence," said Fotheringham. Another black South African who originally was scheduled for the tour backed out after reconsidering the risks. So much for the "freedom to speak of freedom" that Mandela professed to champion in his address to Congress.
Mayor Linda is more than passing familiar with the ANC's terrorism. In 1984, his friend Councilor Kinikini was dragged from his funeral parlor, where he was working, by a mob of ANC thugs. Together with four of his children, he was "necklaced" and butchered. Then pieces of their flesh were torn off and eaten by the terrorists. Kinikini's "crime" had been his refusal to resign as Councilor, a position to which the black people of his township had elected him. In 1985, Mayor Linda brought Mrs. Kinikini to the United States to tell the American people the truth about what was happening in their country. They spoke primarily at churches and appeared on Christian television programs. It was on his return from that first U.S. trip that the ANC marked him for extermination. He had proven he was definitely a threat to their designs.
It was two o'clock in the morning and the Linda family was fast asleep, when a petrol-bomb crashed through their living room window and engulfed the home in flames. "The carpets and everything became an instant inferno," Linda recalled. The terrorists threw hand grenades and opened fire on the home with automatic weapons before fleeing in their vehicles. The mayor, his wife, and their four children escaped fiery death, as if by miracle. "I don't know how we got out alive. My youngest child, now five years old, was only four months then. We just thank God for protecting us, and our friends and neighbors who aided us."
Truth Will Out
It was not expected that the insider-controlled national network television news and big-city dailies would jump at the opportunity to tell Mayor Linda's side of the story. And, true to form, they did not. As with so many other important stories, they spiked it completely. But Linda got his message out to millions of Americans nonetheless. Although Jennings, Rather, Brokaw, and fraternity decided that his tour was not "news," other reporters and talk-show hosts recognized it as a real story. At press conferences and follow-up interviews in New York City, Philadelphia, Boston, Washington D.C., Chicago, Atlanta, Miami, Los Angeles, and San Francisco, Linda appeared on local network affiliates and independent television and radio stations. Over 100 radio stations nationwide — including more than a dozen 50,000-watt, clear-channel stations — broadcast interviews with the former mayor. A major victory for cable-TV viewers nationwide was scored when, with the help of Accuracy in Media's Reed Irvine and Howard Phillips of the Conservative Caucus, Linda appeared on C-SPAN.
Starting with the Bob Grant Show, the most popular radio talk show in New York, Linda saw what he was up against, as vicious ANC supporters called in to denounce him on the air as a "traitor" deserving of "lynching" and "necklacing." These shrill, threatening calls would continue throughout his tour. He was exhausted at the end of his tour in San Francisco, but encouraged and optimistic. "Despite all the abusive calls, the vast majority of Americans I talked to were very supportive, and they thanked me for coming here to tell the truth about South Africa," said the mayor. "Most of the callers and people I met said either that I had provided them with an entirely different perspective that they had never heard before, or that I had confirmed the deep suspicions they had about Mandela and the ANC. I am confident that the American people will make the right decisions when they are given the facts, the truth. The challenge is to get it to them." Mayor Linda was interviewed by Senior Editor William F. Jasper.
Q. Mayor Linda are you surprised at the tremendous reception Nelson Mandela has received during his tour of this country?
A. It is incredible to me, and pathetic, really, to see an unrepentant communist like Nelson Mandela, the leader of a communist terrorist organization that has carried out unspeakable acts of barbarism against the people of South Africa — both black and white, but mostly black — be welcomed with such enthusiasm in the United States of America. This is a terrible thing when your president and your Congress and your other political leaders put the honor and prestige of their offices behind this man and the movement he represents.
To present Mandela as the voice of, or the leader of, the black people of South Africa is laughable because it has no basis in reality. Unfortunately, we cannot just laugh this off, because there are very serious consequences to this foolishness. But Mandela and the ANC have no significant support from black South Africans. I know that may be hard to believe for Americans who have been subjected to this enormous propaganda over the past decade and particularly these past few weeks and days, but it is true. The vast majority of black South Africans fear and dread any future prospect of a South Africa under the rule of Mandela or the ANC. Because we know what they stand for, what they have done, and continue to do, in the name of "liberation." They would bring economic ruin and a reign of terror to our country. We don't want that.
Q. The ANC and its champions here insist that their political objective for South Africa is "democracy" and "one man, one vote." If fair, open elections were held tomorrow, or sometime in the near future, could Nelson Mandela be elected president?
A. It would not even be close. Even if the whites were excluded, Mandela could not come close to securing a significant plurality, not to mention a majority. As for other offices, there would be very, very few that the ANC could hope to win. People overseas just don't understand that the black people of South Africa have already voted many times in local elections, and have always repudiated the ANC and the candidates in its front groups like the UDF [United Democratic Front]. The black leaders elected by the black people have almost universally denounced and opposed the ANC and its communist aims.
Q. When you ran for mayor of Ibhayi, you were opposed by the UDF candidate, correct?
A. Yes, there were two candidates, one who was UDF. The UDF knew they couldn't win, so they tried to sabotage the election by intimidating voters. Their thugs blocked the entrances to voting areas, but the voters were determined to vote and pushed their way through. It's this kind of activity, repeated many times, that points up the lie of the ANC claim that it is for democratic rule. They know that the only way they could possibly be "elected" to office is through a campaign of terror, intimidation, and foul play. I am proud of the black voters of South Africa — of all tribes — because over and over they have faced this kind of danger and intimidation, and have refused to bow to these bully tactics.
Q. The only black South Africans whom Americans see or hear on our news are the Mandelas, Bishop Tutu, Reverend Boesak, and other ANC spokesmen. You have been here before, as has Bishop Isaac Mokoena, Chief Buthelezi, Reverend Elijah Maswanganyi, Mayor Nelson Botile of Soweto, and other black moderate leaders who oppose the ANC — yet your voices are not heard.
A. It is not because we have not tried. There are many, many black leaders — not just Mayor Linda — who say these things. You mentioned Mangosuthu Gatsha Buthelezi, chief of the Zulus, the largest of the black tribes, numbering some 7 million. He is also president of Inkatha, with 1.5 million members one of the largest political parties. Bishop Isaac Mokoena pastors a congregation of over 2.5 million followers. Bishop Lekganyane of the Zionist Christian Church leads some 3 to 4 million believers and has had outdoor prayer services of over 1 million gathered in one place. Bishop Isaiah Shembe heads the Nazareth Baptist Church, another enormous independent church.
These are just a few of the church shepherds who oppose the ANC's violent revolution and whose flocks dwarf Bishop Tutu's, "Reverend" Boesak's, and the other radical churchmen's congregations. And, it should be added, these radical clergy do not even represent the faithful in their own churches. All of these radical clerics have alienated large segments of those they claim to pastor because they are promoting hatred and policies that are anti-Christian. It is incomprehensible to black Christians in South Africa that the World Council of Churches and other supposedly Christian groups over-seas would send huge sums of money to the ANC/UDF. These are the terrorist groups that are burning down churches and murdering pastors and churchgoers. Just last month, a young pastor was shot dead in the middle of a funeral service, the coffin fell, and parishioners ran for their lives. This is the kind of thing we live with and it follows the classic textbook example of how the communists have attacked the churches in other countries.
And there are elected black political leaders too numerous to name. But let me tell you, when Ted Koppel, your famous interviewer, came to South Africa to film Mandela, there were many black people who called his offices to say, "Will you please also interview Linda, Buthelezi, Mokoena, etc.?" And we should have been most happy to offer some balanced perspective. But Mr. Koppel and his network were not interested in the truth then, and, it seems, that hasn't changed. Apparently, it is the same with much of the other major media here. They appear to sympathize with the militant communist elements, and are determined to present these elements as representatives of the black people of South Africa.
Q. The ANC militants and their supporters here accuse elected leaders like yourself of being traitors and collaborators with apartheid.
A. They call everyone who disagrees with them "traitors" and "collaborators." It is rubbish. Nonsense. Every black man and every black leader wants to see an end to apartheid, and full social, political, and economic rights for black people, All black political groupings are committed to that end. But we will not allow apartheid and racism to be replaced with communism.
You must remember, most black moderate leaders were ANC members long ago, before it was taken over by the SACP [South African Communist Party]. I was a member of ANC, as were my parents. Chief Buthelezi was a member. His uncle, Dr. Pixley Seme, was the founder of the ANC back in 1912. It began as a good organization but was targeted for infiltration by the communists in the late 1920s, and was completely taken over by the communists in the late 1950s. After that it became simply a tool for the communists, merely a controlled arm of the SACP. So all decent people left the ANC. Twenty-three of the ANC's 30-member ruling politburo are disciplined members of the South African Communist Party.
It is no secret to us in South Africa that the ANC is completely run by Joe Slovo, head of the SACP. As you know, when Mandela was released from prison, one of the first people he greeted was Joe Slovo. He praised Slovo and the Communist Party, and they in turn praised him, called him "comrade," and affirmed that ANC and SACP are one. This same Joe Slovo — a white man, Lithuanian-born — is a colonel in the KGB and one of the Soviet Union's most dedicated agents. He is working for his white masters in Russia to impose the same kind of totalitarian communist system that we now have in the so-called "Front-line States" — Zambia, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Angola — where brutal black puppets like Santos and Kaunda impose Marxist dictatorships on the black populations, under the supervision of their Cuban and Soviet rulers. So, you see, it is the ANC and their allies who are the real traitors to the black people of South Africa and the real collaborators with the enemy.
Q. The ANC says that progress can only come through armed struggle. How can you demonstrate that your way of non-violence produces results?
A. That is easy for anyone to answer who visited South Africa several years ago and then came to visit now. There have been enormous positive changes, and I do not hesitate to commend the dedicated black councilors and officials who are responsible for these many advances. We have seen the repeal of the Mixed Marriages Act [which prohibited mixed racial marriages]; repeal of the Jobs Reservation Act [which reserved many of the best jobs for whites only]; repeal of the Influx Control Act [which prohibited blacks from working and living in white areas]; repeal of the Separate Amenities Act [which provided for segregated public amenities]; and many other changes. There is a large and growing black middle class, the largest in Africa, and many black millionaires, many prosperous black businesses.
A few days ago on one of your national television channels, I saw a pathetic example of disinformation. The news program purported to show segregated elevators today in South Africa. There were signs next to the elevators designating them for whites or coloreds. That is nonsense, out-right lying. Segregated elevators were abolished almost 20 years ago. You cannot find any today. Those signs were either put there by the television people, or they used old footage — obviously to agitate the American people against South Africa. It is no wonder that your people here have so many misconceptions about our country. They are not aware, for instance, that beaches, hotels, restaurants, universities, transportation, and most other facilities and services are fully open to all races.
The ANC would now like to take credit for these advances, when, in truth, all along they have tried to sabotage these advances. They have stated publicly many times that they do not want reform and peaceful evolution, but violent revolution. Their whole program since 1984 has been to try to make the black townships "ungovernable" — they have said so themselves. So they have waged this campaign of terror against the black people and against the black leaders whom the people have elected. They call for school boycotts and threaten school children and their parents if they go to school. Then, when they have large masses of children out of school, they agitate them and pay them to carry out mob actions, like the stonings and "necklacings" of "collaborators."
This "necklacing," which your public over here appears to be unfamiliar with, is a hideous torture and terror method devised by the ANC communists in which an automobile tire filled with gasoline or diesel is placed around the neck of the victim, whose hands have been either chopped off or wired behind their backs. The necklace is then set aflame, and, as the poor victim writhes in pain, the mob dances the toyi toyi and stabs, stones, and kicks him or her. The ANC is publicly on record, in their radio broadcasts and their literature, endorsing this barbaric practice. Over the last several years around a thousand black men, women, and young children even have suffered this horrible death at the hands of ANC mobs.
ANC propagandists over here tell you that thousands of black people are being shot down by the white government and white extremists. And I am not here to say that that never happens, but, if you put it in context, you will see that the ANC terrorists have killed far more blacks than the government has. And I will tell you for certain that, when these ANC terrorist actions are going on, most black people are thankful when the police and security forces come in and shoot these terrorists.
You see, the ANC cannot tolerate that real progress is being made through peaceful means, because it discredits them and their policies, so they try to make black areas "ungovernable." They destroy black businesses and kill black entrepreneurs, which are our hope for black economic development. They kill black policemen, black elected officials, black teachers, black government workers — the people who represent our hope for the future, who are gaining the experience necessary for self-government. Then, when they have frightened all black people out of participation in the local government, the white government will have to step in and they can then agitate against more white "oppression."
Yes, there still are vestiges of apartheid that must go, but the enormous strides we have made in the last few years are undeniable, and there is no question in my mind that, if this momentum is allowed to continue, within two years apartheid will be completely gone. What we find extremely frustrating is that we have come so far, and are so close to success, and now your government is threatening to undermine all the progress we have made.
Q. Which brings as to sanctions, the primary political objective of the Mandela tour.
A. This is where it is very obvious that the ANC position is totally out of line with the feelings of the overwhelming majority of black South Africans. There are almost no black elected officials in South Africa who endorse sanctions. In fact, the mayors and councilors and their associations have repeatedly sent declarations to your Congress and the president urging an end to economic sanctions against South Africa. We have had huge demonstrations, with millions of black people calling for an end to sanctions and divestment. Sanctions are not hurting the white government, but they are hurting tens of thousands of black families. Sanctions undermine the black economic empowerment that is essential to black political empowerment. We do not want to inherit a wrecked economy.
I cannot emphasize enough to black Americans, and all Americans, that you are not helping black South Africans with sanctions; you are hurting us. If Nelson Mandela has the support and mandate he claims from the South African black people, he can call for a nationwide work stoppage, a strike, and paralyze the country, bring the government to its knees. But he knows he doesn't have that support, so he wants the American people and your government to do his dirty work for him, through sanctions and other political and economic pressures.
Q. To get back to necklacing for a moment, Winnie Mandela, on the Donahue show, denied that she had made that infamous statement endorsing the terror method.
A. It is incredible to me that your news media people allowed her to get away with that, when it is so easy for them to document that she did indeed say in 1986, "With our boxes of matches and our necklaces, we will liberate this country." It was widely quoted in the press in our country and even overseas. Further, she was captured on news cameras making the statement, and it is easily available even on videotapes I have seen in this country.
It is amazing to see her so uncritically accepted here, when a year ago in South Africa she was rejected even by the ANC; because of her violent methods and lavish lifestyle, she had become an embarrassment to the movement.
Q. What about her involvement in the murder of Stomple Seipei?
A. Yes. Stomple Seipei was a 14-year-old boy, a militant ANC follower who was beaten to death in the Mandela home. Several of Winnie's "body guards" — thugs, really — were indicted, and her top man, Mr. Richardson, was convicted of murder just recently. During the trial, three other black youths who were beaten and tortured along with Seipei, but who survived, testified that Winnie herself initiated the torture, hitting them with her fists and a whip. The government should not allow her husband's notoriety to prevent her from being indicted and brought to trial in this matter.
Q. Are you optimistic for the future of South Africa?
A. As I have said, we have come so far and are so close to our goal. And we have done this not through the ANC's methods of terror and revolution, but by peaceful confrontation and negotiation, as civilized men and women who have worked and negotiated in a Christian way, a mannerly way. And we cannot understand why your government and others in the West seem determined to force on us the same Marxist system that has caused such wide-spread death, destruction, and misery throughout southern Africa. We have the potential to be a peaceful, productive, prosperous, democratic, multi-racial country much like yours, and that is what we want. We need the whites, and they need us. The same for the Indians and coloreds. It is only a small minority of both black and white extremists who are thwarting progress. We are asking you, the American people, not to allow your government to undermine our hopes and aspirations for a peaceful and free South Africa.
Photo of Nelson Mandela