Good riddance to Thatcher - Pallo Jordan

Cape Town - While the ANC has joined the world in mourning Margaret Thatcher, former cabinet minister and ANC NEC member Pallo Jordan has reportedly welcomed the death of the former prime minister of Britain, who once referred to the ANC as a terrorist organisation.

"I've just sent a letter of congratulations," Jordan, who was the ANC's chief propagandist in exile during the apartheid era, told Britain's Guardian newspaper.

"I say good riddance. She was a staunch supporter of the apartheid regime. She was part of the rightwing alliance with Ronald Reagan that led to a lot of avoidable deaths."

The ANC said in a statement on Monday that Thatcher had made a great impact in world politics during her time as prime minister but pointed out "her failure to isolate apartheid after it had been described as a crime against humanity".

Jordan said in the end, Thatcher had to sit down in a meeting with Nelson Mandela in her office in 1991. "Although she called us a terrorist organisation, she had to shake hands with a terrorist and sit down with a terrorist. So who won?"

Jordan recalled that Mandela did not bear a grudge during the meeting. "Nelson Mandela is a forgiving person. Whatever Thatcher did, she didn't put him in jail, did she?"

ANC 'to boycott Thatcher in heaven'

The report also included comments by Dali Tambo, son of the ANC president Oliver Tambo who lived in exile in England during the Thatcher years.

"It's a shame that we could never call her one of the champions of the liberation struggle. Normally we say that when one of us goes, the ANC ancestors will meet them at the pearly gates and give them a standing ovation. I think it's quite likely that when Margaret Thatcher reaches the pearly gates, the ANC will boycott the occasion."

Jordan and Tambo were not the only people not mourning the "Iron Lady's" death. The Durham Miners' Association greeted Thatcher's death as "a great day" according to a Sapa report. Thatcher was reviled in northern mining communities in the 1980s after refusing to give in to their demands.

The UK website, which had been updated with a large block-capital "Yes", is encouraging people to party now that Thatcher - whose rightwing policies alienated the poor - was dead, said Reuters.

Several Argentine veterans of the Falkland Island war which Britain fought in 1982 reacted with unmasked delight at the news of her fatal stroke.

"God bless the day that that terrible woman has died," 71-year-old Domenico Gruscomagno told AFP. "She was an odious person. In order to win elections in Great Britain, she waged war."

The leader of the Malvinas (Falklands) War Veterans Centre, Mario Volpe, lamented that Thatcher "died without being punished, without having been put on trial".

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