Mandela and the Communists: Who was using whom?

Piet Swanepoel explores the later former president's links with the Anglo-American Establishment

"The cynical have always suggested that the communists were using us, But who is to say that we were not using them?"

This question was posed by Mr. Mandela on page 139 of Long Walk to Freedom. Anyone who has read his original draft autobiography written on Robben Island will obviously find the question quite funny, given the many pro-communist declarations in it. Or, what is more likely, the reader will accept the question as a devious attempt to conceal Mr. Mandela's communist connections.

The really cynical reader will say that the question of who used who is not important. To him the entire Mandela saga corroborates the statement made by Professor Anthony Sutton in 1974 in his book Wall Street and the Bolshevik Revolution:

"Recent history cannot be understood properly unless it is realized that there has been a continuing, albeit concealed, alliance between international political capitalists and international revolutionary socialists - to their mutual benefit".

But what if Mandela had really "used the communists"? I have been toying with this possibility for the last week or so and it strikes me that if I were a novelist this could make an extremely interesting book. The title could be: "Mandela: The most successful Anglo-American agent of all times".

The book could set off by referring to the following excerpt from the prison document:

Shortly before the National Day of Protest I wrote a leading article in "The African Lodestar" on the Bill which finally became the Suppression of Communism Act. My argument was that the Bill was not intended for the CP as was generally claimed, but for the ANC, which was the only real opposition to the government outside the parliament. I pointed out that the CP was an insignificant party with no substantial following and added that the government merely used the name of the CP as a tactical move to get the support of white South Africa for the Bill, but that once it became law it would be used against all the critics of the government.

This article led to an important discussion between Moses Kotane and myself in which we tried to reason calmly with each other. It is never safe and may even be reckless to comment fully on events relating to a liberation movement which is still in the field of battle. Such comments might give vital information to the enemy and cause serious damage to our work. Consequently, relevant information may be omitted from the story and the narration ends abruptly. It is sufficient to say that that discussion gave me a deeper grasp of the reasons why the CP has since its emergence been the main object of vilification and attack by oppressive regimes.(p.98)

In the novel I shall describe the conversation between Mandela and Moses Kotane in the following way: Kotane, his senior by many years, will say: "Look my friend, you must be careful not to ignore the importance of the communists. Do you realize that they have important and very intelligent members from all South Africa's racial groups in their Party? They are the local arm of the Soviet Union and whatever way you look at it they are and will continue to be a very important asset to us in our quest to destroy the Boers. What you must consider is to join them, or at any rate, pretend to join them, or should I say us, because it so happens that I am the secretary-general of the Party."

"You mean join them to use them?" Mandela asked.

"Yes, my friend and it so happens that that very law they are passing to destroy the communists will protect you. The passage in it which prohibits people from accusing somebody of being a communist who is not listed as such by the Liquidator will mean that outwardly you will be able to continue to call yourself an African nationalist, but in the inner circle of the communists they, or should I say we, will consider you as one of us."

So that is how it came to pass that Mandela became a double agent. My novel, based on facts, will then set off with Mandela's activities up to 1960 and then provide a more comprehensive description of the John Lang Memorandum than that which follows in these notes. The memorandum describes the activities of people identified only as The Group. In my book , Really Inside Boss, and in the article "Secret War against Afrikaners" I showed that The Group was the National Committee of Liberation (NCL) which later changed its name to the African Resistance Movement (ARM).

Magnus Gunther was a member of this body and described their activities in a chapter in The Road to Democracy in South Africa Vol.1. He visited me here in Pretoria before he wrote the book, I showed him, and a few days later gave him a copy of a manuscript I had written about Anthony de Crespigny. (He was particularly keen to read the manuscript because he had married one of de Crespiny's former wives).The manuscript and another which I had written, The CIA in South Africa, a copy of which had been given to Gunther by somebody else, contained a copy of the memorandum.

Gunther referred to it in his essay as the John Lang Memorandum. In his essay he pretended that the memorandum was an exaggeration of what the NCL/ARM had achieved and claimed that the large amounts of money mentioned in it came from the government of Ghana and not from Western sources as I had alleged. Leslie Rubin, then teaching at the University in Ghana had, according to Gunther, introduced Lang to Geoffrey Bing, the country's Attorney General and to the minister of Finance, which led to Lang receiving the money. However, there are numerous indications in the document which make it unlikely that it was addressed to the Ghanese government, the main one being the repeated requests for the supply of explosives.

It would obviously have been well-nigh impossible for a small country like Ghana, which had no trade links with South Africa, to supply saboteurs here with explosives. Lang did write to Leslie Rubin and to his NCL/ARM colleague, Robin Scott-Smith who was on a visit to Ghana about the money, but the letters ,which were carried by a Swazi politician and intercepted do not appear to suggest that the money was expected from the government of Ghana, but rather from Leslie Rubin. His son, Neville Rubin, was a member of the NCL/ARM and an old hand at receiving funds by way of conduits.

The letters to Rubin and Scott-Smith were addressed c/o David Brokensha who was also teaching at the University.. A year later Brokensha was instructing Peace Corps trainees in California. The Peace Corps was a US government project. In the letter to Rubin it emerged that he was on the point of departing to the US and Lang considered it imperative that Rubin be acquainted with the latest information before proceeding to America.

Gunther based his assertion that the money described in the Lang memorandum came from the government of Ghana on an interview with Lang in Nairobi and on a reference by Geoffrey Bing in a book he'd written, to an amount of 50 000 pounds which had been given to an individual to pay for air transport for politicians fleeing from South Africa. Gunther suggested. on the strength of unnamed "other sources", that this was the money given to Lang, but, he added, "there is no ‘smoking gun'". (p.218)

Gunther's "other sources" had clearly misled him. In Denis Herbstein's White Lies - Canon Collins and the Secret war against apartheid (p.49-50) we read that canon John Collins had given £10000 to Bing's wife in 1961 to charter a plane from Bechuanaland for high-profile political refugees, among whom was Oliver Tambo. One assumes that that 10 000 was followed by other amounts.

When I obtained the memorandum from Brigadier Fred van Niekerk in the seventies it had the handwritten words "ex MI6 documents" at the top of the first page, but I had no proof then or now that there was a connection between it and the British Secret Service. James Sanders in his book, Apartheid's Friends - the Rise and Fall of South Africa;s Secret Service wrote on page 180 that the Group may have obtained its funds from MI6.

He based this on interviews he conducted with members of the NCL/ARM (Randolph Vigne and Neville Rubin) and with Anthony de Crespigny who was for a time the effective owner of the Torquil, the ship which was bought to convey explosives to South Africa and the Piper Comanche plane the Group bought to transport its members and others over territorial borders.

I do not think a person in my position will ever conclusively discover who the real financiers of the Group were. My guess is that we can safely say that it was the Anglo-American Establishment because there seems to be sufficient evidence that Lang had also approached the American Consul in Johannesburg for the funds. He gave Lang a letter of introduction to Michael Scott and an American, Bayard Rustin. Members of the NCL/ARM did receive funds from the CIA with which they published magazines. The official in the CIA who headed this funding was Cord Meyer Jr, who was a member of the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR. a very influential American Establishment body.

So bearing in mind what we have read in Mandela's Jail Memoir and in the Lang Memorandum and in Stengel and Sampson's books, the following picture emerges:

The Group claimed that over a period prior to June 1961 they "kidnapped" a number of banished persons and took them to Basutoland. Mandela claimed (p.389) that they in the ANC had "transferred" these people to Basutoland. Magnus Gunther also referred to the trips undertaken to Basutoland. During one of these trips the vehicle was involved in an accident involving a horse. Mandela and Sisulu were passengers.

It was on this trip that Monty Berman, one of the founders of the NCL/ARM, suggested to the two African leaders that a sabotage organization be formed. Gunther claimed that Mandela played his cards close to his chest and commented only that the organization should have an African name, Mannie Brown, a member of the Congress of Democrats, came to their rescue and so ensured that Mandela and Sisulu would be present at court the next day.

The Group claimed to have made preparations for the convening of a National Convention. It referred to a meeting of opponents of the National Party organized by "one of its representatives". My enquiries revealed that only one paper carried a report of this meeting. The paper was Post, a stablemate of Drum. The report, under the heading "Secret Talks begin - All races invited to Rand Parley", claimed that the people taking part in the meeting had been invited by Mr. H, C.C.Kuiper, the managing director of South African Associated Newspapers (SAAN), on behalf of the chairman of the company, Mr. G.H.R.Edmunds.

The invitation to attend the meeting included the following sentence: "Accordingly, at the suggestion of a widely based group of prsons in Johannesburg, I have agreed to invite a vumber of persons..."

A few days later another meeting was held at 74 Main Street, Johannesburg where a steering committee was elected to make arrangements for a national conference, which it was estimated would cost between 12 and 15 thousand pounds and regional conferences which would cost rather less. It was, expected, according to the minutes of the meeting, that the Anglo-American Corporation, SAAN, the Argus Group "and others" would bear the costs of the enterprise.

Magnus Gunther wrote that during the twelve months from October 1960 "an unusually large range of groups drawn from the ANC, PAC, LP, , the Congress of Democrats, various church denominations, , university faculty and student groups, business finance and even two former chief justices, were energized to take part in the so-called National Convention movement." He said Lang and his cheque book played a significant role until he fled the country on June 26th, 1961, following a Police search of his house and the discovery of the letter written by the American Consul. After he'd fled, Gunther continued, leaving debts unpaid and having "also misappropriated R14,000 from a trust fund administered by his law firm" , the entire plan to organize the National Convention was deflated.

In the Jail Memoir we find that Mandela was very much part of this Convention plan. It was decided that he would go underground to organize support for it. One assumes that it was at this stage that the SAAN and Argus papers began to paint the picture of him as the heroic Black Pimpernel. He describes his meetings while "underground" with newspaper personnel in various parts of the country, He also met Randolph Vigne, a leading member of the NCL/ARM, who took him to see the anti-communist Patrick Duncan.

Early in 1962 he left the country on his Africa tour. We must remember that at this time the fact that he had started on a war against the South African state and was fleeing from the police was a well known fact, not just in South Africa.

He arrived in Bechuanaland - and what happens? He is offered sanctuary and protection by the chief of security - a British civil servant, who had performed the same function the previous year for Oliver Tambo. He departs from there to Dar-es-Salaam in a small plane - no doubt the Comanche bought by the Group and described in the Lang memorandum..

In Dar-es-Salaam he is met by Frene Ginwala, who has now emerged as the ANC's travel organizer. It was she and Ronald Segal who had accompanied Oliver Tambo and Dr. Yusuf Dadoo the previous year in their departure from the country. Segal was the founder and publisher of Africa South, which later became Africa South in Exile. In the January-March 1961 issue of Africa South in Exile Ginwala was described as the journal's Foreign Representative. Her address was given as Box 807, Dar es Salaam. Rajat Neogy, the editor of the Ugandan journal, Transition, in an interview published on July 11th 1967 in the Nairobi weekly, Sunday Nation, and re-published in his journal, described how his journal had come to receive funds from the CIA via the Congress for Cultural Freedom (CCF). Among other things he said this:

"The CCF came to our attention through Ezekial Mphahlele, at that time the Director of its African Program. .At that time in Africa the Congress already had a very worthy record for the projects it had supported . These included the Mbari Writers Club in Nigeria, Black Orpheus, Africa South, New African, to name a few as well as..."

(Readers of Long Walk to Freedom will have noted that Mandela thanked Nadine Gordimer, Ezekiel Mphahlela and two other people for their advice and support in the writing of his book, Nadine Gordimer had been one of the trustees and editorial advisers of the magazine Classic, which was published in the early sixties by the Classic Magazine Trust Fund. The Trust was "mainly financed by the Farfield Foundation Inc. New York". As mentioned elsewhere this Foundation acted as a conduit for CIA funds. )

Frene Ginwala also published her own journal in Dar-es-Salaam. It was called Spearhead. The first issue was dated November 1961.

Spearhead is the English word for Umkhono. The existence of Mr. Mandela's Umkhonto We Sizwe was only made public in December 1961. The word Spearhead also appears in an article about the CIA's covert funding which appeared in the magazine, Ramparts, in the June 1969 issue, The reference was in the title of a book, Spearheads of Democracy, which

"grew out of a Council on Foreign Relations study group which brought labor experts together with Cord Meyer Jr, the chief of the CIA's covert funding program..."

I have not seen a copy of Spearhead so I do not know who financed it, but there must have been a very close relationship between it and New African which was published by NCL/ARM members with CIA funds.

In the very first issue of New African, January which was dated 1962, there were only two advertisements. One of them was for Spearhead, described as "Tanganyika's independent monthly". The address supplied was Box 807 Dar-es-Salaam. (The other advertisement was for Oxford University Press).

There was another link between Spearhead and New African. In the first issue of the latter there appeared a review of an article which had appeared in the first issue of the former. And oddly enough, the same article, "One Party States" by Julius Nyerere had also appeared in the first issue of Transition, which also received funds from the CIA.

Frene Giwala was to be declared a prohibited immigrant in Tanzania. She then moved to London where she worked for the Transcription Centre about which I collected a fair number of facts, the most interesting of which to me was that it was financed by the Farfield Foundation, which in 1967 was discovered to be a conduit for CIA funds.

While with the Transcription Centre or shortly afterwards Ginwala worked in the ANC office in London. At that time Craig Williamson, who was later revealed to be a South African spy, was employed by the International University Exchange Fund (IUEF), Denis Herbstein, writing in White Lies - Canon Collins and the Secret War against apartheid, relates the following events which interest me because the IUEF had formerly been part of the International Student Conference (ISC) which in 1967 was also revealed to be financed by the CIA:

"Horst Kleinschmidt, an exile who was about to join IDAF, harboured reservations from their university days. He had no hard evidence of Williamson's involvement with the security police but he voiced his suspicions to Frene Ginwala in the ANC London office. ‘Stop maligning this Williamson guy' he was told, Word got back to Erikson, who warned Kleinschmidt to stop spreading rumours about his deputy. ‘He said he could make life difficult for me', Kleinschmidt recalled."

When Mr. Mandela moved into Shell House he chose "three strong women" as Sampson was to describe them, to set up his office. The first was Frene Ginwala. Later she moved to the research department of the ANC. Oddly enough I cannot find her name in the Index of Long Walk to Freedom.

From Dar-es-Salaam Mandela went to Ethiopia where, according to a recent report in an Israeli paper, he visited the Israeli Embassy. After visiting a number of other African countries Mandela visited England. On arrival the immigration official appeared to know the purpose of his visit and he had no problems with the authorities.

Dennis Healey, who had just become a member of parliament, took him to meet the leaders of the Labour and Liberal Parties. Healey could be described as a member of the Establishment. From 1948 to 1960 he had been a councillor of the Royal Institute of International Affairs. From 1954 to 1961 he was a member of the International Institute for Strategic Studies and secretary of the Fabian Society.

Oliver Tambo took him to meet David Astor, the editor of the Observer, one of the most important English Sunday papers. Also present at the lengthy meeting was Colin Legum, the paper's Commonwealth correspondent and Michael Scott. The Observer had been favouring the PAC in its columns, but after this meeting gave its support to the ANC. Astor, to my mind, represented the heart of the British Establishment. His parents.

Waldorf and Nancy, better known as Viscount and Lady Astor, were described by Quigley, writing in The Anglo-American Establishment, as members of the Inner Circle of Cecil Rhodes's secret anglophile network. In Herbstein's White Lies, it emerges that David Astor played an important role in co-ordinating the activities of the three main groups financing the legal aid required by South African revolutionaries as well as the support of their dependents.

These groups were Collins's Christian Action and his International Defence and Aid Fund (IDAF), Michael Scott's Africa Bureau and Lars Gunnar Erikson's IUEF. Scott's Africa Bureau was also mentioned in the June 1969 issue of Ramparts. It was simply called a "CIA conduit".

When Mandela was arrested shortly after his return to South Africa David Astor sent him a number of books about England to read in prison, via Sir John Maud, the British Ambassador in Pretoria. Mandela wrote back asking the Ambassador to thank the "anonymous donor." (Sampson, p.173).

Mandela also visited his communist chief, Dr. Dadoo, but what was undoubtedly a more important visit was to Collins. In Long Walk to Freedom this visit was not even mentioned, but Herbstein devoted the entire Preface of his book to it. He commenced by describing Mandela and Tambo:

"Two men in lounge suits...the taller of the two, Nelson Mandela. ‘the Black Pimpernel' was being sought here, there, everywhere by South Africa's ubiquitous security police."

Herbstein's book makes interesting reading. It tries to explain how Collins, an avowed pacifist, agreed to finance the revolutionaries. Whatever way you look at it, if you promise to procure the best available defence for someone in the event that he is arrested, and you promise to look after his dependents when he is in gaol, you are just as guilty of financing the violent revolution, as the man paying for the bombs the terrorists use.

In this particular case Collins was already supporting both Mandela and Tambo's families and would continue to do so for almost thirty years.

Collins was to carry on financing the revolutionaries until his death. When it became illegal in South Africa to obtain funds from IDAF he was assisted by Neville Rubin to devise conduits through which the cash could be channeled. An intermediary firm of lawyers was hired to act as a go-between. The lawyer employed in this task came to be referred only as Mr. X. Scores of prominent people, who did not contribute to IDAF's funds were talked into posing as concerned donors.

Hence the title "White Lies". If you told a lie in South Africa about who was funding the Citizen, it became an Information Scandal and prominent heads rolled. In England it was a "white lie", and the man who organised it became a hero and his wife was made a Dame of the British Empire.

The financing of the "struggle" in South Africa continued until Winnie Mandela was charged with the abduction of and assaults on a child, Stompie Seipei, who was found murdered a few days afterwards. Winnie had already embarrassed supporters of the ANC abroad with her endorsement of "necklacing", of opponents, the inhuman tying of a victim's hands behind her or his back, the placing of a motor car tyre around the victim's neck, dousing it with petrol and setting it alight. (More than 400 people were murdered in this way).

IDAF, including Mr. X , were of the opinion that this was not a political case and the defense could not be funded by them. They were to be surprised. At 6am on be morning of 18 October 1990 Horst Kleinschmidt, then in charge of IDAF received a call in his house from Mandela. ‘Why', asked a clearly displeased Mandela, ‘are you refusing to defend my wife?'

Kleinschmidt tried to explain, but eventually agreed to go back to the donors. They demurred, but eventually most agreed that IDAF should pay for Winnie's defense. However, before they passed over the money an American international company informed Thabo Mbeki, who informed Kleinschmidt, that they would foot the bill." Kleinschmidt understood that the company was keen to go on-side with the ANC as a preliminary to re-establishing its position in South Africa." (p.321). The company's officials promptly handed over a cheque for 53 000 pounds.

Herbstein did not go into details about the identity of IDAF's donors, beyond referring to the "European community", the Swedes and the UN, but he did give readers a hint. Describing a rare visit to South Africa by Mr. X, in October 1986, he quoted him as addressing advocates and attorneys who were to be cautioned about inflating their bills. He said he was representing foreign governments who were funding trials in South Africa. (p.313).

So basically IDAF was funded by governments and not by ordinary folk. One must assume that the British-American Establishment provided the bulk of the more than £100 million channeled to South Africa in support of the armed struggle.

So what was Mr. Mandela paid for having been in prison for so many years? On July 4th, 1993 he and Mr. F.W. de Klerk were each awarded the Philadelphia Liberty Medal by the Americans. With it came a lot of cash - millions of rands I believe. Later that year both were also awarded the Nobel Prize, worth many millions. Then there was Long Walk to Freedom which sold something like 13 million copies. Just imagine what his cut from that was.

And the commies - what did they pay him? They did not have to, you see. He left all the levers of power of the richest country in Africa to them. Slowly and surely they are enriching themselves and turning the country into an African version of China - a communist nirvana where ten years from now there will not be an opposition, no critical media, no strikes.

So the capitalists lost the war after all? Not at all my friend. Have seen how happy the capitalists are with the Chinese system? The only people who lost are the Boers. You must read what Mandela wrote in prison about the Freedom Charter. He said it was a pro-capitalist document because it called for the handing over of the land to black people. This will enable them to become capitalists. He said nothing about paying compensation.

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