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Kyle Orton @KyleWOrton
, 10 tweets, 5 min read Read on Twitter
Nelson Mandela, who died on 5 Dec. 2013, would have been 100-years-old today. He oversaw the transition from apartheid to majority rule in South Africa, gaining a near-saintly reputation. But his legacy, and that of his party, the African National Congress, is more complicated.
The Soviet Union before the Second World War had little knowledge of Africa. One of its few focuses was South Africa, the most developed state, and the #ANC from its foundations was tied up with the slavishly pro-Soviet #SACP and more directly with Soviet intelligence.
By the 1930s, the Soviets lost interest in revolution in Africa, though retained its #ANC assets. In the 1960s, the U.S.S.R. moved to try to win the Cold War in the Third World. It provided money and other support to the ANC, plus encouraging a virtual merger with the SACP.
The Soviet support made the most difference to the ANC as it began its violent campaign in the early 1960s. And the collapse of the USSR did the most to assist the ANC's ultimate triumph, removing the strategic imperative to keep the ANC and its Communist allies out of power.
There is now simply no doubt that Nelson Mandela was a member of the Central Committee of the South African Communist Party when he was arrested in 1963. He appears to have joined in 1960 and was a co-founder of the Umkhonto we Sizwe militant group.
Mandela's defenders will say his joining the Communist Party was a tactical move in the struggle against apartheid.

This ignores how close the SACP was to Moscow and the kind of vetting it took to join the Party, let alone be on the Central Committee, as Mandela was
The ANC, based in camps in the MPLA areas of Angola, was trained in counter-intelligence, espionage, and interrogation (torture) by the East German secret police, the Stasi. (The Soviets often handled foreign terrorists in this way, by proxy through an Eastern Bloc service.)
The ANC also acquired skills in bomb-making and sabotage from the Irish Republican Army (#IRA).
Mandela's great achievement is that he was in power everything he wasn't in opposition. His whole history pointed toward him becoming South Africa's Lenin; instead he was, well, Mandela, seeking reconciliation with his former oppressors. Which is more than most men are capable of
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