Former president Nelson Mandela was not spared in the swathe of revelations emerging from thousands of leaked US diplomatic cables, reports said on Monday.
Cables that had yet to be released would reveal the depth of Mandela’s opposition to the war in Iraq, local media reported.
Mandela considered then US president George W Bush was incapable of thinking correctly and believed that Bush ignored calls by the United Nations for restraint in Iraq because the UN’s then secretary general, Kofi Annan, was black, the cables are expected to show.
Other cables still to be released, meanwhile, would also show Mandela as being on the receiving end of criticism.
The US embassy in Pretoria admitted it had approached the government to warn it in advance about the messages, which reportedly including embarrassing criticism by the US of the anti-apartheid icon.
The first batch of leaked cables showed how Mandela was shot down by his ANC party when he expressed a desire to meet ex-British prime minister Margaret Thatcher shortly after his release from prison in 1990.
Mandela had wanted to explain why the ANC had opposed Thatcher’s policy of “constructive engagement” with the apartheid regime, but the ANC opposed the meeting, leaving Mandela “furious”.
The cables also contained embarrassing revelations about how both South Africa and the US view Zimbabwe’s leaders.
“The crazy old man”, is how International Relations Minister Maite Nkoane Mashabane is said to refer to Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe – a remark that was likely to cause a stir in Harare given that South Africa is overseeing the implementation of Zimbabwe’s power-sharing agreement.
The cables also expose Washington’s doubts about the leadership of Zimbabwean Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai.
While the man who has led democratic opposition to Mugabe for the past decade was “the indispensable element for opposition success” he risked becoming “possibly an albatross around their necks once in power”, the then US ambassador to Zimbabwe wrote in 2007.