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Pimples: Saving Madiba's rabbit (video)
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Mandela: SA's greatest son laid to rest (slideshow)
The world watched as Nelson Mandela was finally laid to rest in his hometown of Qunu following a dignified and moving funeral ceremony on Sunday.
"I am concerned by the spectre of a South Africa split into two hostile camps"
An edited version of Nelson Mandela's first letter to then State President PW Botha.

An edited version of Nelson Mandela's first letter to then State President PW Botha. Minister of Justice Kobie Coetsee said last night that the goverment had no record of any such letter. But the Weekly Mail has confirmed its authenticity with a person who visited Mandela and was shown the letter.

THE deepening political crisis in our country has been a matter of grave continued to me for quite some time and I now consider it necessary in the national interest for the ANC and the government to meet urgently to negotiate an effective political settlement At the outset, I must point out that I make this move without consultation with the ANC.

I am a loyal and disciplinary member of the ANC. In the normal course of events, I would put my views to the organisation first, and if these views were accepted, the organisation would then decide on who were the best qualified members to handle the matter on its behalf and on exactly when to make the move. But in my current circumstances, I cannot follow this course, and this is the only reason why I am acting on my own initiative, in the hope that the organisation will, in due course, endorse my action.

The step I am taking should, therefore, not be seen as the beginning of actual negotiations between the government and the ANC. My task is a limited one, and that is to bring the country's two major political bodies to the negotiating table. I must further point out that the question of my release from prison is riot an issue, at least in this stage of discussion, and I am certainly not asking to be freed.

But I hope that the government will, as soon as possible, give me the opportunity from my present quarters to sound the views of my colleagues inside and outside the country on this move. I must emphasise right at this stage that this step is not in response to the call by the government on ANC leaders to declare whether or not they are nationalists and to renounce the South African Communist Party before there can be negotiations: no self-respecting freedom fighter will take orders from the government on how to wage the freedom struggle.

Far from responding to that call, my intervention is influenced by purely domestic issues, by the civil strife and ruin into which the country is now sliding. I am concerned, as many other South Africans no doubt are, by the spectre of a South Africa split into two hostile camps: blacks on one side (the term blacks is used in a broad sense to indicate all those who are not whites) and whites on the other, slaughtering one another; by acute tensions which are building up dangerously in practically every sphere of our lives, a situation which, in turn, foreshadows more violent clashes in the days ahead.

The position of the ANC on the question of violence is very simple. The organisation has no vested interest in violence. It abhors any action which may cause loss of life, destruction of property and misery to the people. It has worked long and patiently for a South Africa of common values and for an undivided and peaceful non-racial state. But we consider the armed struggle a legitimate form of self-defence against a morally repugnant system of government which will not allow even peaceful forms or protest.

Right from the early days or its history, the organisation diligently sought peaceful solutions and, to that extent, it talked patiently to successive South African governments, a policy we tried to follow in dealing with the present government. Not only did the government ignore our demands for a meeting, instead it took advantage of our commitment to a non-violent struggle and unleashed the most violent rum of racial opression this country has ever seen.

It is significant to note that throughout the past four decades, and more especially over the last 26 years, the government has met our demands with force only, and has done hardly anything to create a suitable climate for dialogue. White South Africa must accept the plain fuel that the ANC will not suspend to say nothing or abandoning, the armed struggle until the government shows its willingness to surrender the monopoly of political power, and to negotiate directly and in good faith with acknowledged black leaders.

The renunciation of violence by either the government or the ANC should no be a pre-condition to but the result of negotiation.
We equally reject the charge that the ANC is dominated by the SACP and we regard the accusation as part of the smearing campaign the government is waging against us. Co-operation between the ANC and the SACP goes back to the early twenties and always has been, and still is, strictly limited to the struggle against racial oppression and for a just society. At no time has the organisation ever adopted or co- operated with communism itself.

As members of the ANC engaged in the anti-apartheid struggle, their Marxist ideology is not directly related. The SACP has throughout the years accepted the leading role of the ANC, a position which is respected by the SACP members who join the ANC. Them is, of course, a firmly established tradition in the ANC in terms of which any attempt is resisted, from whatever quarter, which is intended to undermine co-operation between the two organizations.

No dedicated ANC member will heed the call to break with the SACP. We regard such a demand as a purely divisive government strategy. By insisting on compliance with the abovementioned conditions before there can be talks, the government clearly confirms that it wants no peace in this country but turmoil, no strong and independent ANC, but a weak mid servile organisation playing a supportive role to a white minority.

The key to the whole situation is a negotiated settlement and a meeting between the government and the ANC will be the first major step towards lasting peace in the country. An accord with the ANC, and the introduction of a non-racial society, is the only way in which our rich and beautiful country will he saved from the stigma which repels the world.

Two political issues will have to be addressed at such a meeting: firstly the demand for majority rule in a unitary state, secondly the concern of white South Africa over this demand, as well as the in insistence of whites on structural guarantees that majority rule will not mean domination of the white minority by blacks. The most crucial task which will face the government and the ANC will be to reconcile these two positions. Such reconciliation will be achieved only if the parties we willing to compromise.

It may well be that this should bedone in at least two stages. The first, where the organisation and the government will work out together the pre-conditions for a proper climate for negotiations. The second stage would be the actual negotiations themselves when the climate is ripe for doing so.

I believe that the overwhelming majority of South Africans, black and white, hope to see the ANC and the government working closely together to lay the foundations for a new era in our country, in which racial discrimination and prejudice, coercion and confrontation, death and destruction, will be forgotten.