Nelson Mandela's whirlwind tour of the United States has generated enormous media attention and vociferous adulation from many leaders of the traditional black establishment. But few people have asked just what Nelson Mandela and his party believe should be the future of South Africa.

The African National Congress has long been influenced by Communist doctrines. Mr. Mandela himself subscribed to these doctrines throughout most of his life. These doctrines emphasize state power, one-party rule and the destruction of private enterprise. They have proven disastrous for economic life and democratic freedom in every country in which government policy has been based upon them. Moreover, the ANC has not been tolerant of opposition within the black community in South Africa.

Americans who have supported the struggle to end apartheid should not be content to see it replaced with a new form of tyranny. Therefore, the most important questions have to do with how a democracy based on pluralism, free enterprise and respect for individual rights can be established in South Africa.

Mr. Mandela's praise for tyrants such as Fidel Castro and Moammar Gadhafi is not reassuring. For those who care about the future of freedom and self-government in South Africa, such reassurance is needed, in deeds as well as in words. ALAN L. KEYES Washington The writer is a former assistant secretary of state.

After the euphoria surrounding Nelson Mandela's recent fund-raising trip to the United States wears off, it will be interesting to see how The Post covers the power struggle in South Africa once tribal factions there turn on one another as they have in Liberia and in other African countries.

Anyone familiar with African politics knows that the violence of tribal conflict can make the evils of apartheid look tame. Unfortunately, that's a fact of African life The Post chooses to ignore.

The Post also should be telling its readers black and white more about the success of the biracial government in Zimbabwe. But that too would only complicate the one-dimensional view of events of Africa that PR campaigns like Mr. Mandela's serve to foster, and that The Post seems only too eager to hype.

BILL THOMAS Bethesda