Letter: Mandela's burden

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Sir: In your editorials, and still more in your news reports, would you please stop referring to Nelson Mandela's "paranoia" (18 December)? As evidence to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission has clearly shown, in the past some exceedingly unpleasant things happened, which included infiltration of the ANC by people acting on behalf of their white political opponents, some of whom did not mind torturing and killing black people. One does not need to be a comrade or a psychiatric patient to believe that some of these malign influences might still be around.

At a completely different level it is profoundly disappointing that some of the big corporations, in their evidence to the commission, did not seem to appreciate their role in supporting the previous regime.

Moreover, despite some positive initiatives, the attitude of so many white people and the companies they run suggests that they fall short of wholehearted support for change. One gets the impression that they feel that if you employ a few black chaps, to show willing, then that is enough. They do not seem to appreciate that economic growth, political stability, and freedom from crime all require a more substantial change of attitude and behaviour on the part of individuals and corporations. Difficult after all these years, of course, but essential.

Finally, you refer to the Stalinist length of Mandela's speech. After all that he has done for South Africa over the years I do not begrudge him the chance to spend a few hours talking to his own supporters in his final speech to them. It is worth remembering that the Pope used to spend a similar time talking to his flock.


Birchington, Kent