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Cablegate: Anc and Mandela Mourn Death of "Champion Of

R 030800Z SEP 09
FM AMEMBASSY PRETORIA
TO SECSTATE WASHDC 9502
INFO AMCONSUL CAPE TOWN
AMCONSUL DURBAN
AMCONSUL JOHANNESBURG

UNCLAS PRETORIA 001790


E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL KDEM SF
SUBJECT: ANC AND MANDELA MOURN DEATH OF "CHAMPION OF
DEMOCRACY" SENATOR KENNEDY

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Summary
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1. (U) On Wednesday, August 26th, both the African National
Congress (ANC) and Nelson Mandela's office issued press
releases mourning the death of Senator Edward Kennedy. Each
recognized and expressed gratitude for his role in the
anti-apartheid movement. Local press ran wire stories
concentrating more on the biographical details of his life.
These public statements highlight values and aspirations that
our two countries share. End Summary.

--------------------------------------------- ---
Press Releases Highlight Kennedy's Contributions
--------------------------------------------- ---

2. (U) The ANC remembered Senator Kennedy's visit to South
Africa in 1985, noting that he staged an "illegal protest"
outside Pollsmoor Prison where Nelson Mandela was
incarcerated. They emphasized that Mandela has said he knew
at the time that Kennedy was at the gate of the prison and
that this fact gave him and his fellow prisoners strength and
hope. The ANC credited Kennedy with using his trip and the
accompanying press to draw attention to apartheid. The
release also acknowledged that it was Kennedy who introduced
the Anti-Apartheid act in 1985 imposing economic sanctions on
South Africa when it was passed the following year over
President Ronald Reagan's veto.

3. (U) Nelson Mandela's office mourned the loss of Kennedy
as a champion of democracy and civil rights. In a statement,
Mandela said, "He made his voice heard in the struggle
against apartheid at a time when the freedom struggle was not
widely supported in the West. We remain grateful for his
role."

------------------------------------
Local Press Focus on Kennedy's Life
------------------------------------

4. (U) While The Star ran an article noting Kennedy's
anti-apartheid efforts and quoted a press release from the
office of President Jacob Zuma, most other newspapers ran
international wire service articles that focused on his long
career and his family tragedies. The Star article quoted a
Zuma statement calling Kennedy a comrade and friend in the
fight for liberation. The Pretoria News and the Sowetan
articles instead summarized the late senator's life and
career, making no mention of his role in the fight to end
apartheid.

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Comment
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5. (U) In a relationship sometimes complicated by mild
mistrust and grudges held over from the Cold War era, these
public acknowledgments of Kennedy's anti-apartheid efforts
serve to underscore values and aspirations that the U.S and
South Africa have in common. Post issued a press release and
posted it to the mission's web page, Facebook and Twitter
pages. To date, post has received approximately 40
condolences celebrating Kennedy's life and remembering his
help in the struggle to end apartheid. End comment.


GIPS

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