The South African Communist Party is admitting Nelson Mandela was a high-ranking member. Will the media report these facts? Or will the “myth” continue to prevail?
My friend Victor Lasky used to write books about liberal or left-wing figures that carried the name of the person and the subtitle, “The Man and the Myth.” He would compare the coverage of a political figure with the truth. The coverage of the death of Nelson Mandela has focused mostly on the myth. Key facts are being omitted, including Mandela’s secret membership in the South African Communist Party (SACP), which may shed light on the future of South Africa.
It’s very rare in all of the coverage, from Fox News to MSNBC, to find any reference to the central role that communism played in Mandela’s life. The evidence shows not only that he was a secret member of the South African Communist Party, but that he continued to deny membership in the party throughout his life. The cover-up is relevant to South Africa’s future and the role the SACP plays in the current government.
Mandela is being credited with trying to avoid a bloodbath after the black majority took power. But his denial of membership in the South African Communist Party, which turned out to be a lie, deserves attention and comment. What was he trying to hide? And was there more to it than mere membership in the SACP?
The SACP itself is not hiding the truth. In a tribute to “a true revolutionary,” its website declares, “At his arrest in August 1962, Nelson Mandela was not only a member of the then underground South African Communist Party, but was also a member of our Party’s Central Committee. To us as South African communists, Cde [Comrade] Mandela shall forever symbolize the monumental contribution of the SACP in our liberation struggle. The contribution of communists in the struggle to achieve the South African freedom has very few parallels in the history of our country. After his release from prison in 1990, Cde Madiba became a great and close friend of the communists till his last days.”
As president of South Africa, Mandela spoke to the South African Communist Party on its 75th anniversary, referring to its “alliance” with the African National Congress and others ruling South Africa.
Some of the truth about Mandela’s secret life as a communist has emerged in various books over the years.
In Mandela: The Authorized Biography, Anthony Sampson writes that Mandela started out as an anti-communist but “was impressed by The Communist Manifesto and by the biographies of South African Marxists like Paul Bunting and Bill Andrews.” Sampson went on to write, “He was struck by the Soviet Union’s support for liberation movements throughout the world, and by the relentless logic of dialectical materialism, which he felt sweeping away the superstitions and inherited beliefs of his childhood…” One of those beliefs was Christianity, and Sampson writes that Mandela “experienced some pangs at abandoning the Christian beliefs that had fortified his childhood…”
A photo in the book shows Mandela and his second wife, Winnie, at a 1958 wedding ceremony “attended by a few close friends, including the communist writer Michael Harmel.”
Harmel “joined our Party in 1939 and for the rest of his life the Party was his master,” states a tribute on the website of the South African Communist Party.