Washington, DC – President Bush today signed into law a measure by House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Howard L. Berman (D-CA) that will eliminate a government-imposed stigma against association with the African National Congress of South Africa. Now the United States will remove from its databases any notation characterizing the ANC and its leaders -- including Nobel Laureate and former South African President Nelson Mandela -- as terrorists.
“For many years under the old Apartheid regime, injustice heaped upon injustice as the world watched, and even complied,” said Berman, who is leading a Congressional delegation to South Africa. “Today the United States finally has removed from its legal code a vestige of that time of collective insults against human dignity. The label of ‘terrorist’ will no longer be affixed to associates of the ANC -- among them one of the world’s great heroes, Nelson Mandela. Our country stands with those who struggled to bring the reprehensible system of Apartheid to an end.”For decades the ANC resisted Apartheid and advocated the rights of black South Africans – first through nonviolence and community activism, and then through the actions of its military wing. The South African government banned the ANC in 1960, and the United States denied entry to ANC members based on the group’s activities. With the end of Apartheid in 1990, the ANC grew to become the leading political party; it continues to lead South Africa in a multiracial, multiparty democracy.
Under the new law, ANC membership or associated activities alone will no longer trigger additional investigation into an individual’s application for a visa to the United States.
Congress passed the final version of Berman’s legislation (H.R. 5690) on June 26. House co-sponsors included Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers (D-MI), Homeland Security Committee Chairman Bennie G. Thompson (D-MS), Africa Subcommittee Chairman Donald Payne (D-NJ), and Foreign Affairs Committee members Barbara Lee (D-CA) and Sheila Jackson-Lee (D-TX), and Oversight and Government Reform Committee member Peter Welch (D-VT).