Thatcher let Mandela rot in apartheid prison


This video is called Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom (2013) Official Trailer.

By Paddy McGuffin in Britain:

Thatcher left Mandela to rot in prison

Friday 3rd January 2013

PMs glossed over issue in controversial talks

Newly released cabinet papers put paid yesterday to longstanding Tory boasts that Margaret Thatcher used her controversial courting of South Africa’s apartheid-era government to help win the release of Nelson Mandela.

Government minutes from 1984, published under the 30-year rule, show that Thatcher made little or no effort to secure Mandela‘s freedom during her first official meeting with South African prime minister PW Botha.

The documents record a summit between Thatcher and Botha, supposedly to discuss the country’s policy towards its black population.

Yet the British PM did not mention Mandela once during the official discussion.

In a report sent by adviser John Coles to Roger Bone, then private secretary to Sir Geoffrey Howe, Number 10 suggested the issue was raised at a short “tete-a-tete.”

No note-takers were present during the discussion but Coles says the issue was raised by Thatcher, who was rebuffed by Botha who claimed he was unable to “interfere with the South African judicial process.”

In the officially minuted meeting that followed no further mention was made of the matter – apparently despite Foreign Office advice to do so.

Thatcher went on to infamously brand Mr Mandela and the ANC as “terrorists” in 1987, while the ultra right-wing Federation of Conservative Students notoriously wore “Hang Nelson Mandela” badges in the early 1980s.

In the wake of Mandela’s death Prime Minister David Cameron and other senior party figures have rushed to distance themselves from their previous stance.

But in a special parliamentary session former Labour cabinet minister Peter Hain claimed the Tories were attempting to “rewrite” the history books and attacked the Thatcher government for its “craven indulgence to apartheid rulers.”

“We all say in Britain we were against apartheid, and doubtless we were,” Mr Hain said.

“But some of us did things about it and others didn’t.

“But it really does stick in the craw, when Lord Tebbit, Charles Moore and others similar claim their complicity with apartheid, for that’s what I think it was, somehow bought its end.”

Film: Mandela- Long Walk to Freedom (12A): a critical review is here. Another one is here.

A new book on Joe Slovo and Ruth First pays due tribute to an inspirational couple in the struggle for liberation in South Africa, says JOHN HAYLETT: here.

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Coelacanth, the ‘Christmas fish’


This video says about itself:

Finding the Coelacanth

A team of divers off the coast of South Africa comes face to face with a Coelacanth.

By Penny Haworth in South Africa:

Introducing the elusive ‘Christmas fish’- living fossil

Tuesday 24th December 2013

Few animal discoveries of the 20th century created as much of a stir as the coelacanth – a creature which sheds light on how fish made the transition onto land, says PENNY HAWORTH

Much like the dinosaurs of Jurassic Park, the coelacanth captured the imagination of people across the world.

It has been given all manner of nicknames – “living fossil,” “fossil fish,” “dinofish,” “the fish that time forgot,” “the Christmas fish,” “the £100-reward fish” and “Old Fourlegs.”

Seventy-five years ago, on December 22 1938, Marjorie Courtenay-Latimer, the curator of the East London Museum in Eastern Cape, South Africa, was at the harbour to see if there were any specimens of interest in the trawl nets.

Her friend Hendrik Goosen, skipper of the fishing boat Nerine, had set aside some fish from his catch for her.

Most of them were sharks that she was already familiar with – but a strange shape lying beneath the other fish attracted her attention.

It was an unusual blue colour, but all the more strange was the shape of its fins – they didn’t resemble anything she had seen before.

Wrapping the fish in a sack, Courtenay-Latimer needed to get it back to the museum and from there into storage.

The best way to preserve the fish until an expert could look at it would be to freeze it, but this was not possible – neither the hospital nor a nearby butchery, the only places in East London with fridges large enough to hold it, were prepared to store the large, smelly creature.

Not having sufficient formalin to preserve the specimen intact, Courtenay-Latimer had no choice but to have the organs removed and the animal stuffed.

She made a sketch and, together with a short description, sent it to Professor JLB Smith, a fish specialist at Rhodes University in Grahamstown.

On holiday in Knysna in the Western Cape province, Smith found the letter among his Christmas mail.

He described his reaction when he saw the sketch – “a bomb seemed to burst in my brain.”

Smith immediately recognised the fish in the sketch. But at the same time could hardly believe that this could be true.

However, the strange, fleshy fins were indeed typical of coelacanths, a group of fish that – according to scientific knowledge at the time – had died out millions of years previously.

It was a full two months before Smith finally got to East London to see the specimen.

“The first sight hit like a white hot blast!”

After having seen the stuffed fish for himself, he could confirm that it was indeed a coelacanth.

In naming the fish for science, he called it Latimeria chalumnae to pay tribute to Courtenay-Latimer for pursuing her hunch and to note that the fish had been found off the Chalumna river near East London.

Scientists had been studying coelacanths since 1839, but only through the fossil remains.

The first person to describe a fossil fish was a Swiss naturalist called Louis Agassiz.

He had named a fossil fish found in Durham, northern England, Coelacanthus granulatus.

The genus name “Coelacanthus” comes from two Greek words meaning “hollow” and “spine,” referring to the hollow spines of the vertebrae that connect to the bones which support the tail fin rays. “Granulatus” describes the rough texture of the fish’s spiny scales.

During the century that followed scientists found fossils of many species of coelacanth.

The earliest coelacanth species first appeared about 400 million years ago – the most recent appeared to have lived about 70m years ago and that was where, to all intents and purposes, it seemed that the record ended – coelacanths seemed to have completely disappeared.

Smith wrote an article for the well-known science journal Nature in which he described Latimeria chalumnae.

Popular and scientific interest in the find was fuelled by intense media coverage of the discovery.

For Smith, however, the more he studied the specimen, the more questions cropped up – he knew he needed another specimen to find the answers.

However, it was to take another 14 years before a second coelacanth was found.

In his determination to find more evidence of the existence of coelacanths, Smith posted a reward of £100 in three languages – English, Portuguese and French – for the first two specimens found.

A trader called Captain Eric Hunt distributed leaflets throughout the Comores archipelago in the Indian Ocean on Smith’s behalf.

Fishermen in the Comores had seen coelacanths in their catches from time to time and called it “gombessa,” but the flesh was oily and no good to eat, so they didn’t value it and usually threw the remains back into the ocean.

On December 20 Hunt was notified that a local fisherman had captured a coelacanth in the Comores.

On December 23 1952 Smith received a telegram from Hunt – HAVE FIVE FEET SPECIMEN COELACANTH TREATED FORMALIN HERE KILLED TWENTIETH ADVISE OR SEND PLANE REPLY HUNT DZAOUDZI COMORES.

Smith realised that he had no way to bring the fish to South Africa and made a desperate plea to the then prime minister Dr DF Malan, who agreed that an air force Dakota aeroplane be made available.

Smith later told the story of the rediscovery of the coelacanth in his famous book, Old Fourlegs.

What did the fossil record tell scientists?

Although fossils of Latimeria chalumnae have not been found, the species has not evolved far from the coelacanths that existed millions of years ago. In many ways this makes it a “living fossil” able to shed light on the much earlier stages in the evolutionary record.

Before the discovery of live coelacanths, no-one knew how they swam, whether they lived in groups, how they hunted or, as Smith had theorised, whether they used their lobed fins to “walk” on the seabed?

Scientists needed to see the animals, alive in their natural habitat. No fossil could provide this kind of evidence.

Now, with new technology available, for the first time scientists have been able to study these remarkable creatures close up.

We’ve come a long way since Marjorie Courtenay-Latimer’s first sighting of a strange blue fish.

This article is reproduced with kind permission of Penny Haworth. She is the manager of communications and governance at the South African Institute for Aquatic Biodiversity in Grahamstown.

South African sharks and sardines


This video says about itself:

20 Dec 2013

Traveltherenext.tv: http://www.youtube.com/ChristinaPfeiffer features The Sardine Run, Wild Coast, South Africa with Tony Isaacson, diver, marine scientist and underwater explorer. Tony’s goal is to spend the rest of his life diving in the most amazing places on the planet.To get in touch with Tony, go here.

From the Queensland Times in Australia about this:

Coast diver to contend with sharks in South African waters

Christina Pfeiffer

20th Dec 2013 2:46 PM

SUNSHINE Coast teacher of marine sciences, PADI Scuba Diving Instructor and AWARE shark specialist, Tony Isaacson has dived in some of the most amazing diving locations on the planet.

He has logged over 3000 dives in more than 20 countries around the world and has explored the depths of the Pacific, Indian and Atlantic Oceans.

Isaacson has documented the marine diversity in exotic locations like Komodo, Fiji, Tahiti, Easter Island and the Galapagos Islands.

He was a diver on the 60 Minutes team that filmed a documentary to re-introduce navy clearance diver Paul de Gelder, who lost his arm and leg in a bull shark attack in Sydney Harbour, to bull sharks in Fiji.

His next adventure is a diving trip to South Africa’s Wild Coast, which is known as one of the most sensational natural predatory shows on earth.

Find out why Tony Isaacson is excited about South Africa’s Sardine Run.

The Sunshine Coast’s Point Cartwright starred as South Africa’s Wild Coast in this video.

Nelson Mandela and the Daily Mail, from hatred to hypocrisy


This video about South Africa is called Nelson Mandela “I Am Prepared to Die” speech (with subtitles/transcript).

By Solomon Hughes in Britain:

The Daily Mail‘s hatred of Mandela

Friday 13th December 2013

Today the Mail is singing Madiba‘s praises, but it wasn’t always so keen on this towering figure of resistance. SOLOMON HUGHES takes a look

Most British news reports on Nelson Mandela‘s death note the number of streets and buildings named after the ANC leader in Britain, showing how much British people cared about the great man.

They don’t say how hard the Tories and their friends opposed the Mandela name.

Now David Cameron says Mandela was a hero. But when it mattered, when he was imprisoned by apartheid’s jailers, the Tories were enraged by Labour councils supporting Mandela.

The Tories’ big ally in their anti-Mandela campaign was the Daily Mail.

The Mail complained this week that Mandela’s memorial ceremony was “a shambolic disgrace to his name.” But it hated his name when he was imprisoned.

London was the international HQ of the Anti-Apartheid Movement and Britain was a vital base of the ANC.

Britain saw big public protests and heroic underground support for Mandela and his fellow fighters.

Naming streets and buildings after Mandela was a small part of this. It encouraged the campaigners and spread his name – to the disgust of the Mail and the Tories.

A search of the Mail archives about Mandela throws up story after story denouncing the Mandela renamings.

In August 1986 both the Mail and the Tories were enraged that Labour-led Coventry Council wanted to name its new archive building after Mandela instead of poet Philip Larkin.

The Mail quoted Tory spokesman Stan Hodson saying: “Mandela has a record of being a terrorist. He has nothing to do with Coventry. What will naming a public building after him do for our tourist industry?”

This was part of a long campaign in the Mail against naming streets and buildings after Mandela.

In September ’82 it had a page three splash on “How the left turned Lark Rise into Soweto Close” following Cardiff Council‘s decision to name roads in a new housing estate after South African heroes.

A shocked Mail reported: “The quiet cul-de-sacs will be labelled Mandela Avenue, Biko Close.”

Laing Homes, building the new private estate, was outraged, complaining: “How can we possibly sell people homes when they hear the names of the roads they are in?

“We are in the business of selling homes, not playing politics. People want to live in friendly sounding streets, not places named after foreign political leaders.”

Inevitably the deputy leader of the council’s Tory group Gwilym M Jones said: “We will be opposing the names.”

In 1983 the Mail carried several stories about Camden Council’s decision to rename one of its roads “Mandela Street.”

Camden proposed the change because the Anti-Apartheid Movement actually had its headquarters in the road.

But the Mail was enraged that “the left-wingers on Camden Council” wanted to name the road “after the jailed black African nationalist.”

The Mail said residents were “furious” at the name change and in “revolt” against the Mandela name.

It claimed that everyone on the street with the exception of the Anti-Apartheid Movement and the Central Electricity Generating Board signed a petition against renaming their street after Mandela. If so there must be some very embarrassed residents in Camden right now.

In November ’84 the Mail reported that “left-wing” Harlow Council had renamed a road “Mandela Street,” finding an unnamed local to denounce it as “utterly confusing.”

It didn’t stop at street names. In November ’86 Manchester Council put Nelson Mandela on its Xmas cards.

The Mail‘s headline – “The left gives Santa the sack” – suggests it was not keen.

Manchester Tory MP Winston Churchill – grandson of the more famous Churchill – told the Mail this “tasteless propaganda is profoundly disturbing.”

The Mail‘s campaign was crystallised by Paul Johnson, who was given a whole page to denounce the “Crazy street warfare of the left” in July ’85.

Johnson was still angry with Cardiff councillors wanting street names to “commemorate revolutionary leaders such as South African blacks Nelson Mandela and Steve Biko.”

Johnson said the street names were “deliberately provocative gestures,” adding that calling a road “Mandela” was done by the “fanatics who run Labour’s local government regimes” who “never miss an opportunity to set people at each others throats. It is part of the Marxist doctrine of class warfare.”

Johnson wasn’t just worried about support for revolutionary leaders and “South African blacks.”

Give in on Mandela and “where would it end?”

The Mail‘s columnist argued that “women’s lib, increasingly powerful in the Labour Party, would stick its oar in and thousands of streets would be named after harpies and harridans.” Worse, “homosexuals, another Labour pressure group, would demand their quota. We would have scores of Oscar Streets and Wilde Roads.”

So for the Mail, supporting Mandela was as bad as supporting gay people or women.

This disgusting reactionary cocktail might look like something only Johnson – a ridiculous right-wing buffoon – would mix.

But his views were reflected in the high levels of Tory government.

When Michael Howard began drawing up his famously bigoted Section 28 against treating gay people as equals, he originally wanted to use the same law against councils supporting Mandela.

Just like Johnson, he seemed to think Labour councils naming streets after Mandela and being gay-friendly was all part of one plot.

Papers I got under freedom of information show that Section 28 wasn’t just proposed to stop councils “promoting homosexuality” and banning “the acceptability of homosexuality as a pretended family relationship” in schools.

The law originally aimed to stop any kind of “left-wing political activity” by local councils.

Howard’s civil servants wanted the law to be a “proscription of a number of activities undertaken by local authorities in areas peripheral to their functions.

“These include the promotion of homosexuality but also other activities such as anti-apartheid and anti-nuclear activities.”

Howard agreed. Seeing councils being gay-friendly was part of “all the peripheral political activity of left-wing councils” and he was considering “proscribing some other activities by local authorities, such as anti-apartheid, anti-police and anti-nuclear activities.”

Hurray for the Blackshirts, Daily Mail 1934 fascist propaganda

The Daily Mail has a long history of far Right sympathies, as this 1934 article by its owner, Viscount Rothermere, in support of the Blackshirts of British nazi leader Sir Oswald Mosley, shows.

Nelson Mandela’s death resulted in an outpouring of tributes and veneration such as no other political or world figure could inspire, perhaps with the exception of Muhammad Ali. Like Mandela, Ali stood up against racial and social injustice as a young man and thereby transcended the confines of his background to become an international icon: here.

Nelson Mandela has been laid to rest – but his legacy must not be; Gary Younge: here.

Nelson Mandela, eulogy by Barack Obama


This video from the USA says about itself:

The Right Wing Vs Nelson Mandela

6 Dec 2013

“The world is celebrating Nelson Mandela as a selfless visionary who led his country out of the grips of apartheid into democracy and freedom. But some of the very people lavishing praise on South Africa’s first black president worked tirelessly to undermine his cause and portray the African National Congress he lead as pawns of the Soviet Union.

In fact, American conservatives have long been willing to overlook South Africa’s racist apartheid government in service of fighting communism abroad…”.* The timeline of efforts and propaganda against Mandela is broken down by Cenk Uygur, Ana Kasparian, John Iadarola (host, TYT University and Common Room) and comedian Jimmy Dore on The Young Turks.

*Read more here.

Today, the big commemoration for Nelson Mandela in Soweto, Johannesburg in South Africa.

Though the rain poured down mercilessly, ten thousands of people in the stadium kept singing and dancing to celebrate the life of, and to honour this deceased freedom fighter.

There were various speeches by politicians. Namibia was the only African country apart from South Africa with its own speaker.

One of the speeches was by Barack Obama, president of the United States. Before speaking, he shook hands with Raul Castro, president of Cuba; also an orator today, announced as “a speaker from a tiny island which helped to liberate us”.

This video, recorded in Soweto today, is called Raul Castro Speech at Nelson Mandela Memorial.

After Castro had finished his speech, he got a special thank you, again for Cuban help in the anti-Apartheid struggle, and for Cuban help today, in health care and other areas.

The Secret History of How Cuba Helped End Apartheid in South Africa: here.

Oops – John McCain Blasts Obama-Raul Castro Handshake, Forgets He Met With Al-Qaeda Fighters: here.

John McCain admits Castro-Hitler comparison was “gross exaggeration”: here.

This video, recorded in South Africa, says about itself:

Obama’s Complete Nelson Mandela Memorial Speech

10 Dec 2013

President Barack Obama‘s full speech at memorial service today for Nelson Mandela.

Let us take a closer look at the eulogy for Mandela by Obama. We know he is a very good orator. Now, from form to content. What were the strong points and the weak points in his speech? What did he say; what did he not say?

A strong point was comparing Nelson Mandela to other famous freedom fighters: Mahatma Gandhi; Dr Martin Luther King; and Abraham Lincoln. Three individuals, when they were still alive, loved by millions all over the world. But also with bitter enemies among powerful privileged people. Three individuals with an extreme Right fringe still hating them today. Like with Mandela.

Obama, deservedly, got much applause when he mentioned Mandela‘s fellow fighters against Apartheid: Oliver Tambo and Walter Sisulu. People, who, together with Nelson Mandela, had been put on a list of “terrorists” by previous United States governments. Oliver Tambo died in 1993; still on the US government list of “terrorists”. Walter Sisulu died in 2003; still on the US government list of “terrorists”.

Here, Obama might have said: “Nelson Mandela was only removed from the United States list of terrorists in 2011. What a shame that he was ever put on it. And what a shame that Walter Sisulu, Oliver Tambo and others died while still being on that hateful list. I apologize”. Obama did not say that. Maybe, he looked at the stadium bleachers, and saw George W Bush sitting there. And Obama did not want to dissociate himself too much from his predecessor’s policies. What a pity.

Dutch NOS TV, reporting on the Mandela farewell ceremony, mentioned briefly that in 1962, the Apartheid regime probably had been able to arrest Mandela because the United States CIA had tipped the racist South African government off.

A point which Raul Castro did mention briefly was Nelson Mandela’s pro-peace views. Obama might have said: “Mandela was a strong opponent of the Iraq war. I opposed that war then as well. So, I have no trouble admitting that Nelson Mandela was right in this”. Obama did not say that. A missed chance. Oh yes, briefly, in passing, Obama mentioned the word “peace”. Without connecting it to any speech or action by Nelson Mandela. Without connecting it to Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia or elsewhere where United Stsates armed forces recently, or still today, waged or still wage war.

Correctly, Obama implied that some of the politicians now joining in the mourning for Mandela are insincere, as, contrary to the spirit of the African liberation fighter, they oppress their people. However, he did not mention that so many of these hypocritical politicians are close allies of the United States government: like the British Conservatives and the Spanish Partido Popular. And Obama did not mention how often United States government policies; in Guantanamo Bay torture prison, which Obama promised to close but which is still open; in CIA secret prisons in many countries; in drone attacks killing civilians; in NSA spying on billions of people all over the world; are at variance with Mandela’s ideals of democracy.

When President Obama denounced world leaders who praised Nelson Mandela while crushing dissent and resisting reform in their own countries, he should have had a look in the mirror: here.

Mandela’s fight against nuclear weapons – by @VincentIntondi: here.

Nelson Mandela, Feminist: here.

The Nelson Mandela of the 21st century is right here, right now. We just can’t see it. We’re too busy spitting on him and calling him a terrorist: here.

US religious fundamentalists, Dutch nazis against Nelson Mandela


This video says about itself:

Nelson Mandela first interview 1961

Nelson Mandela‘s first interview in 1961 for ITN … . A young Mandela flushes out his strategy for reclaiming fundamental rights for black South Africans from his hideout before his arrest.

Nelson Mandela died. Billions of people all over the world sincerely mourn and honour this freedom fighter.

However, a minority of the tears now is not so sincere. Like in the case of British Conservatives who used to call Nelson Mandela a “terrorist”, and to call for him to be hanged, while he was alive. Or in the case of the Spanish conservative ruling party, which used to prefer dictator Franco to Mandela while Mandela was alive, but who now shed crocodile tears as well.

On the extreme Right side of the political spectrum, some show their anti-Mandela bigotry even now.

The Westboro Baptist Church in the USA is infamous for its homophobia and its anti-Semitism.

Now, they are planning to disrupt the ex-president of South Africa’s funeral with an anti-Mandela protest. They say they thank God for killing Mandela. They claim that is because Nelson Mandela divorced and remarried. Extremely probably, they hate Mandela too for abolishing the anti-LGBTQ laws of the Apartheid regime in South Africa. Plus they will hate Mandela for the usual far Right “reasons”, for supposedly being a “communist terrorist” etc.

We, the Baptist Convention of South Africa, as represented by its leadership, have noted with utmost disdain the insensitive, unbaptistic and unchristian statements issued by the Westboro Baptist Church in USA, about out former President, Dr Nelson Mandela: here.

Dutch neo-nazi party Nederlandse Volksunie (NVU) on 6 December 2013 put an article on their Facebook page (no, I will not link to them) by Geert Wilders admirer Joost Niemoller. The article claims that Mandela changed a South Africa where things supposedly went well under the Apartheid regime, to a “hell on earth”.

Constant Kusters, Nederlandse Volksunie fuehrer, proposes in the election platforms of his party for the 2014 Dutch local elections, to remove the name Nelson Mandela from streets, bridges etc. named after the South African freedom fighter in various towns in the Netherlands.

The NVU was founded in 1971, “with as key purpose to rehabilitate convicted WW-II war [nazi] criminals“, as Wikipedia says.

Soon after that, a Dutch football club played a European cup match in a big stadium in Portugal. The dictatorship in Portugal then waged bloody colonial wars in Angola and its other colonies. In Angola, Africans had to work on Portuguese coffee plantations in conditions very akin to slavery. In the Netherlands and other countries, anti-racists and anti-colonialists campaigned for a boycott of coffee from these plantations in Angola.

During the football match, millions of TV spectators saw big signs, saying in Dutch: “Importeer en drink Angola koffie” [Import and drink coffee from Angola]. The Portuguese regime had put these signs around the football pitch; tipped off to do so by their Nederlandse Volksunie sympathizers.

Present NVU fuehrer Constant Kusters was still a non-political toddler when this happened. However, he is continuing his party’s racist policies on southern Africa which date from the NVU’s earliest days.

Al Sharpton Rips Historical US Policy Towards Nelson Mandela: here.

12 Mandela Quotes That Won’t Be In the Corporate Media Obituaries: here.

World leaders continued to heap praise on anti-apartheid hero Nelson Mandela over the weekend. But it was at grass-roots level that true affection for the revolutionary leader was being expressed: here.

Latin American solidarity activists paid heartfelt tributes to South African liberator Nelson Mandela at the weekend: here.

Fred Phelps dies: here.

Spanish conservatives, Nelson Mandela and Franco


This video from South Africa is called Nelson Mandela speech after election as President.

By James Bloodworth in Britain:

Spanish Popular Party ‘laments’ Mandela’s passing but votes against statue in favour of Franco

December 9, 2013

Amidst the general global outpouring of grief last week at the passing of Nelson Mandela, Spain’s ruling Popular Party lamented the loss of Mandela on its Twitter account.

‘The Popular Party mourn the loss of Nelson Mandela’, the Tweet on Thursday read (see below).

And yet a few months earlier in July, while Mandela was still alive, albeit seriously ill, the right-wing Popular Party voted against naming a street after Madiba. Instead, the party voted for the street in question to retain its name – ‘July 18′ in honour of the day Spain’s former dictator General Franco who rose against the Republic on that day in 1936.

So, contrary to the title, the Partido Popular hypocrisy is not about a statue, but about a street.

During 40 years of dictatorship, around 35,000 people are believed to have died at the hands of Franco’s regime, without trial or after courts martial.

Even if one would add to this “around 35,000 people” estimate the death sentences by the Franco-dictatorship-appointed civilian courts, this looks like a conservative estimate.

Opposing Mandela while he is alive and expressing cringeing piety when he is dead. Now who does that remind you of?

Mandela tweets

Britain: Oxford University Conservative Association (OUCA) continues to stake its claim as the exemplar of the ‘Nasty Party’ – with its director of communications branding Nelson Mandela a “terrorist” a day after he died: here.