Briefing Paper

The Impact of Nelson Mandela’s Tour of the United States

This brief report contains brief assessments of Nelson Mandela’s American visit by four American analysts. The visit was a resounding success. Mandela had achieved the following: prevented moves to lift sanctions, enhanced the credibility of the ANC particularly as a result of his address to the U.S. Congress, raised funds for the ANC, strengthened his own position in relation to President de Klerk, and reassured Western investors about investment security. He spoke of nationalization and redistribution of wealth in South Africa, although he moderated his position in private discussions and in his address to Congress.

In the US, Mandela has come to be viewed as the embodiment of the struggle for freedom, democracy and human rights in South Africa. He is a symbol of hope and pride for black Americans. However, this may be more a reflection of American society than it a result of understanding of the South African situation.

The visit was not without controversy. Mandela’s acknowledgment of Yasir Arafat, Fidel Castro and Muammar Qaddafi as champions of human rights because they supported the ANC, is not helpful in the American political environment.

That aside, Mandela won the hearts and minds of the American press and its readers.