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Dick Cheney Defends Vote Against Freeing Mandela, Calling Madiba a ‘Terrorist’

Former Vice-President Dick Cheney still defends his 1986 vote in Congress against anti-Apartheid sanctions aimed at  freeing Nelson Mandela. The GOP leader claims that the first black president of South Africa was, at the time of his imprisonment in the 80’s, a ‘terrorist.’

“The ANC was then viewed as a terrorist organization,” Cheney said in an interview that aired on ABC. “I don’t have any problems at all with the vote I cast 20 years ago.”

Cheney’s vote was one of many Republican nays against the Comprehensive Anti-Apartheid Act of 1986, a bill that aimed to impose tough sanctions on South Africa and demanded the release of political prisoners, like then-African National Congress (ANC) leader, Nelson Mandela, affectionately referred to as Madiba.

Current GOP Congressmen Joe Barton, Howard Coble, Hall Rogers, and Ralph Hall also opposed the bill, as well as former President Ronald Reagan, whose presidential veto was ultimately overturned by a second vote of Congress.

Yet, when asked about the GOP’s opposition to the anti-Apartheid legislation, Mandela told author and journalist John Nichols that Cheney’s immense power under the Bush regime made his vote against the anti-Apartheid measures particularly disturbing.

In an interview with Democracy Now Nichols said that one of the reason’s Mandela said that he was so concerned with Cheney’s power “is that in the late 1980’s when even prominent Republicans like Jack Kemp and Newt Gingrich were acknowledging the crime of Apartheid, Dick Cheney maintained the lie that the ANC was a terrorist organization.”

Nichols added that, “If Dick Cheney’s judgment was that bad in the late 1980’s, why would we believe that it’s gotten any better in the early 21st century?”

Former vice-presidential candidate John Edwards echoed the concern while on the campaign trail in 2004, pointing out that Cheney’s vote was one of a string of measures that showed Cheney’s poor judgment while in office.

“He voted against funding for Meals on Wheels for seniors. He voted against a holiday for Martin Luther King,” Edwards said. “He voted against a resolution calling for the release of Nelson Mandela in South Africa.”

For his part, while Cheney stands behind his voting record, even on the issue of Mandela, he admitted that the man who because the architect of the new South Africa was, in fact, “a great man.”

Cheney also remarked that Nelson Mandela, the man that he called a “terrorist” had, in fact  “mellowed” in later years.

Photo Credit: Office of the President/Public Domain

About the author

Tamar is a New York based freelance writer and photographer whose work has appeared in over 15 publications. You can catch her work regularly on Issue Hawk, Latest, Jspace, and MediaGlobal.