By Damien Glez
What got into Donald Trump that he felt entitled to invoke the memory of Nelson Mandela?
On October 23, visiting the state of New Hampshire to register for the presidential primaries, with a view to a possible return to the White House, the former president defeated by Joe Biden affirmed: “I don’t mind being Nelson Mandela”.
The comparison with the anti-apartheid hero may seem incongruous coming from a politician with ambiguous relationships with America’s white supremacists.
In 2020, during an election debate, Trump avoided condemning the Proud Boys, a violent American neo-fascist organisation that only accepts white men as members.
In 2022, he was criticized for participating in a dinner with Nick Fuentes, an American political commentator described as a “white supremacist” by the Anti-Defamation League, which fights discrimination.
Prisoner to president
It is not Mandela’s fight against racial segregation that Trump wants to politically reclaim, but the 27 years Madiba spent in prison for opposing the racist South African regime.
On Monday, the American billionaire was trying to present himself and his businesses as the target of politicised judicial harassment by federal and state prosecutors.
With the presidential race already underway – the election will take place on 5 November 2024 – and Trump likely to be chosen again as the Republican candidate, the former president’s legal troubles loom like the Sword of Damocles.
He has been indicted four times in recent months, and his first criminal trial opens on 4 March 2024 in Washington, in a case concerning electoral pressure in 2020 to overturn the election result.
Three other cases are pending: for paying hush money to porn star Stormy Daniels to cover up an affair; for removing classified White House documents at the end of his term; and for his role in the 6 January 2021 Capitol attack.
Legal experts consider it unlikely Trump will end up behind bars, unlike Nelson Mandela.