'Obstacles' Still Block Freedom for Mandela : South Africa: Wife visits jailed black nationalist, says the onus is on De Klerk.


Winnie Mandela, wife of black nationalist Nelson R. Mandela, had lunch with her husband at his prison home here Sunday and said later that she is "extremely disappointed" that obstacles still remain to his freedom after 27 years in jail.

"I'm sorry I'm not bringing him home to his family," she said after a 4 1/2-hour visit. "But the obstacles that prevented his release on Friday still exist. We are back to where we have to pressure for his release, and the onus is now on Mr. (Frederik W.) de Klerk."

The meeting was the first with Mandela since President De Klerk, in an address to Parliament on Friday, shocked South Africans by lifting the 30-year ban on the leader's African National Congress and removing restrictions on several hundred other organizations and activists. De Klerk has now met most, but not all, of the ANC's preconditions for negotiations on South Africa's future.

No one knows for sure what hurdles remain to freedom for the 71-year-old Mandela, whom millions of blacks consider their true leader.

De Klerk announced Friday he has already taken a "firm decision" to release Mandela unconditionally but that no date had yet been set.

"Unfortunately, a further passage of time is unavoidable," De Klerk said. He blamed the delay on "logistical and administrative requirements" as well as concern for Mandela's "personal circumstances and safety," but he did not elaborate.

The government wants Mandela, whom top officials have been meeting with for several years, to play a leading role in negotiations between the white minority-led government and the black majority for a new constitution. To do that, government officials say, Mandela must be released into a political climate in which he can operate freely.

Mandela's special status in the government's eyes was acknowledged Friday by presidential aides, who told reporters that the prisoner was briefed in advance on De Klerk's landmark speech.

Winnie Mandela suggested Sunday that her husband's release has been delayed by the government's unwillingness to meet all the ANC's demands, among them the lifting of the 3 1/2-year-old state of emergency.

"Mr. Mandela remains a prisoner, and the onus is on Mr. De Klerk" to free him, she said.

De Klerk rescinded several key parts of the emergency decree Friday and lifted restrictions on activists and groups silenced by those regulations. However, many of the emergency regulations remain intact, including provisions allowing the government to detain anyone for up to six months without charge, ban meetings and restrict television and photographic coverage of political unrest.

Winnie Mandela said her husband is preparing a response to De Klerk's new initiatives, and she said that release of the statement will depend on prison authorities. She said the statement will indicate the conditions that he has set for his own release.

However, other activists who have visited Mandela in prison frequently say he has not set any such conditions for his freedom. A lawyer who saw him recently quoted him as saying: "Just open the (prison) door and watch me."

The Mandelas met alone in the three-bedroom prison home at Victor Verster prison farm, about 30 miles east of Cape Town, where he has been kept for the last year. After the meeting, Winnie Mandela flew back to Johannesburg and her home in the black township of Soweto.

The ANC leadership, at its exile headquarters in Lusaka, Zambia, has been caught off guard by De Klerk's sudden decision to legalize the guerrilla organization. The leaders met behind closed doors Sunday in Stockholm to discuss the new developments.

On Saturday, the anti-apartheid ANC refused to end its calls for economic sanctions or its guerrilla campaign, although the number of bombings inside South Africa has dropped drastically in recent months. But ANC leaders said they are willing to talk about a mutual cease-fire with Pretoria.

De Klerk, in a statement broadcast by state-run radio Sunday night, said his actions on Friday have removed the reasons cited by the ANC and other guerrilla groups for resorting to violence in the first place. And the president predicted that if the ANC continues its guerrilla war, "the world would turn against them."

But the ANC and other anti-apartheid groups, while welcoming De Klerk's moves, say he hasn't gone far enough.

"An array of oppressing legislation like the Internal Security Act and the state of emergency are still in place," said Harry Gwala, a Mandela colleague who was released from prison in 1988. "Detention without trial, irrespective of the length of time, remains a completely unjustified attack on . . . democracy and peace."

Besides lifting the state of emergency, the ANC has demanded that De Klerk remove South African troops from black townships and release all political prisoners, even those convicted of violent crimes.

Several Sunday newspapers in South Africa quoted sources close to the ANC as saying that it is discussing a prisoner swap with the government.

A few South Africans are being held in jails in neighboring black-ruled countries for spying and staging attacks on ANC installations. And several dozen activists remain in prison in South Africa for violent crimes arising from the ANC's bombing campaign, which has killed 40 people and injured 680 over the last three years.

Mandela, jailed in 1962, is serving a life sentence for sabotage, a conviction stemming from his role in founding Umkhonto we Sizwe, or Spear of the Nation, the ANC's military wing.

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