MANDELAMANIA will hit Australia this week. Nelson Mandela, Deputy President of the African National Congress (ANC), will receive a hero's welcome when he lands in Canberra today.
Mr. Mandela is to meet Tuesday with Prime Minister Bob Hawke, the Cabinet, members of the opposition parties, and the news media.
Mandela will fly Wednesday to Sydney for a rally in front of the Sydney Opera House. He is also likely to make headlines when he meets with aboriginal representatives earlier that morning. In the past, the ANC deputy leader has suggested that Australian indigenous people face a struggle similar to that faced by South African blacks. Land-rights issues are sensitive for aborigines.
Finally, on Thursday, Mandela flies to Melbourne for meetings with the Prime Minister, and Joan Kirner, the mayor and president of the Australian Council of Trade Unions. Mandela will be at the Melbourne Sports-Entertainment Center Thursday evening for a fund-raising rally.
Fund raising will take up a significant portion of Mandela's visit. In Sydney, supporters will be collecting money outside the Opera House and at a US$160 per head dinner. In Melbourne, businessmen will pay $800 each to lunch with Mandela while concertgoers pay $18 each. Organizers say the funds raised will be used to assist in establishing a ``nonracial, constitutional government.''
The Nelson Mandela Australian National Reception Committee is calling the visit ``an event of enormous significance,'' highlighting Australia's role in opposing apartheid. It remains to be seen how excited laid-back Australians become over the visit.
Prior to his arrival, Mandela spent four days in Indonesia. Mandela said Saturday that Indonesia's President Suharto had given $10 million to the ANC. ``It is my pleasure to tell you ... the president has granted us a donation of $10 million dollars,'' Mandela said.
Though virulently anti-communist, Indonesia has long supported the left-wing ANC in its struggle to end South African apartheid. Mr. Suharto told Mandela that Indonesia looked to him as the future leader of South Africa.
Secretary of State Murdiono said Indonesia had also committed $250,000 a year for three years to aid frontline states bordering South Africa.