Nobel Peace Prize winner anti-apartheid icon Nelson Mandela still figures on the US terrorist watchlist and needs special permission to visit America.
The requirement applies to Mandela and other members of South Africa's ruling African National Congress (ANC), the once-banned anti-apartheid organisation.<b1>
US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has termed the situation "embarrassing," and some members of the Congress have vowed to fix it, the USA Today reported.
In the 1970s and '80s, the ANC was officially designated a terrorist group by the country's ruling white minority. Other countries, including the US, followed suit. Because of this, Rice told a Senate committee recently, her department has to issue waivers for ANC members to travel to the USA.
"This is a country with which we now have excellent relations, South Africa, but it's frankly a rather embarrassing matter that I still have to waive in my own counterpart, the foreign minister of South Africa, not to mention the great leader Nelson Mandela," Rice said.
Chairman of the House International Relations Committee Howard Berman is pushing a bill that would remove current and former ANC leaders from the watch lists. Supporters hope to get it passed before Mandela's 90th birthday on July 18.
"What an indignity," Berman said. "The ANC set an important example: It successfully made the change from armed struggle to peace. We should celebrate the transformation."
Mandela, the hero of movement against apartheid, a repressive regime that subjugated black South Africans, was imprisoned for 27 years before being freed in 1990. He was elected South Africa's first black president in 1994.