THE LOVE AFFAIR between South African President Nelson Mandela and the country's media outlets, which are mostly controlled by the white minority, seems to be over. In recent weeks, the 78-year-old president has repeatedly attacked the press and has charged that senior black journalists were being used by conservative owners of white newspapers to undermine the African National Congress government.
Mr. Mandela first became irritated toward the media after Lillian Arrison, one of his secretaries, agreed to be photographed nude for Hustler magazine and revealed she liked sex, particularly in the shower. The president thought her actions reprehensible: She was promptly transferred to a less prestigious job.
Next came a series of articles in mainstream newspapers like the Johannesburg Star that offended the president and other ANC leaders. "Even St. Mandela has clay feet," was the headline of the first one by Kaizer Nyatsumba, a black veteran journalist. Subsequent stories suggested that Mr. Mandela was threatening to resign over economic policy disputes, that he was exhibiting "autocratic behavior. . . possibly due to growing senility" and that he was having second thoughts about letting deputy president Thabo Mbeki succeed him.