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Mandela plans to see union leaders
​Nelson Mandela is believed to have drawn up a wider list of people he wants to consult with.

Nelson Mandela has plans to meet his five Rivonia Trial co-accused and leaders of the labour movement at his Paarl prison bungalow within the next week. The Weekly Mail has learnt that five Rex Trueform suits were delivered to Pollsmoor Prison on Wednesday for Mandela's prisoners to use either at his graduation ceremony or his "birthday celebration" on July 18. And he is trying to include labour leaders in the guest list. It is understood that the Congress of South African Trade Unions' Cyril Ramaphosa, Elijah Barayi and Jay Naidoo have been invited - though they have not yet received the Prisons Service's permission to attend. 

Mandela is believed to have drawn up a wider list of people he wants to consult with. It is not known how long the list is, but it is believed that it includes leaders of the "mass democratic movement", the labour movement and old colleagues. Some sources have said the list includes four leaders of the African National Congress in exile, though is difficult to see how this could work in practice. It has been thought for several weeks that Mandela was eager to meet with a range of resistance leaders - one estimate of the number on the list was as high as 150. The need has become pressing since his meeting last weekend with State President PW Botha, and fears in some resistance circles that he is acting in isolation. 

However, sources close to the Mandela family have indicated that wide-ranging consultations are only likely to take place after September's elections.  This could be part of the government’s plan for a phased release, an idea floated when Mandela was moved last year to his prison house in Paarl. Plans appear to be well advanced for a function at Mandela's Victor Verster Prison bungalow to celebrate his 71st birthday, as well as the ANC leaders' recently-completed law degree. It is not yet clear whether both will take place on Tuesday- Mandela's. birthday - but the Weekly Mail understands that invitations to attend one or the other have been extended to Mandela's five still-imprisoned Rivonia colleagues (the recipients of the suits), family members and personal friends, and the labour leaders. 

The Rivonia five still in prison - Walter Sisulu, Ahmed Kathrada, Andrew Mlangeni, Raymond Mhlaba and Elias Motsoaledi - are understood to have been given the go ahead to visit Mandela. The others are awaiting permission. The South African Council of Churches confirmed separately that members of the Mandela family - including some from the Transkei - would be "getting together" at Victor Verster on the 18th. It is further understood that four Unisa Law Department staff members are expected to attend their former student's function. Prisons representatives have confirmed that "an application" from Mandela was being considered, but did not elaborate.

This article originally appeared in the Weekly Mail.