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Jonathan Ball

@ Sunday Times Books LIVE

Findings in External Mission by Stephen Ellis Spark Debate About Nelson Mandela

 External MissionThe Telegraph‘s Colin Freeman and Jane Flanagan have written about Stephen Ellis’ External Mission: The ANC in Exile in which Ellis presents documents that seem to indicate that Nelson Mandela was in fact a member of the South African Communist Party, despite years of denial.

Ellis cites a document containing the minutes of a SACP meeting in 1982 in which John Pule Motshabi refers to the recruitment of both Nelson Mandela and Walter Sisulu into the party about 20 years before.

For decades, it was one of the enduring disputes of South Africa’s anti-apartheid struggle. Was Nelson Mandela, the leader of the African National Congress, really a secret Communist, as the white-only government of the time alleged? Or, as he claimed during the infamous 1963 trial that saw him jailed for life, was it simply a smear to discredit him in a world riven by Cold War tensions?

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