Nearly six months after black South African leader Nelson Mandela swept through the United States on an eight-city fund-raising tour, none of the money has left American shores and the two U.S. charities that raised it still are trying to tally the take.
Local committees in each city were supposed to transfer donations to bank accounts in Washington, but some committees have not done so. One has held onto the money while conducting an independent audit, said Lennox Hinds, interim director of Democracy for South Africa and the Nelson Mandela Freedom Fund, the two charities under whose auspices money was raised.
"We are making it very clear to the cities that we expect them to turn in all of the monies and are pushing them to do that expeditiously," said Hinds, who declined to name the cities still holding money. "My primary concern is accountability and I want to make sure that every penny that has been received is accounted for."
A final report on the total fund-raising effort is to be made by Dec. 15, said Hinds. He estimated the after-expense total would be "close to $4 million."
At least $2 million is available to be sent to South Africa, said Hinds. That is the amount the charities decided in October to send as a partial disbursement to a South African charity to be chosen by the African National Congress, of which Mandela is deputy president.
But after learning of the accounting delays, ANC officials in South Africa decided the money should remain in the United States until a final accounting is completed and a lump sum is available, according to Hinds and Lindiwe Mabuza, the ANC's chief representative to the United States.
The ANC's treasurer general, Thomas Nkobi, recently expressed dismay with the pace of the accounting process. "People take their time," he said in an interview with Washington Post correspondent David B. Ottaway in Johannesburg, but added that he had "no doubt" that the money will come.
"It's taking much longer than I had thought, period -- and certainly longer than the ANC had thought," said Hinds.
The ANC, legalized in February after 30 years of banning by the racially separatist white minority government, is under increasing pressure from supporters to address a wide range of black humanitarian needs, including housing, education, health care and the reintegration of exiles.
Those needs are the mission of a charity called the Matla Trust, on whose board Mandela sits, which was set up in South Africa earlier this year to receive donated funds. Money raised in the United States will eventually be sent to the trust or some other charity and not to the ANC directly because U.S. tax law prohibits American charities from donating money directly to political organizations.
In part, the months-long accounting process attests to Mandela's touring success, from which there was a "much more massive outpouring than anybody figured," said Roger Wilkins, who was national coordinator of Mandela's U.S. travels.
Mandela, 72, who was released in February after 27 years of imprisonment, moved through the country at a breakneck pace, visiting New York, Boston, Washington, Atlanta, Miami, Detroit, Los Angeles and Oakland in 11 days.
The hastily arranged tour included stadium rallies, black-tie fund-raisers, motorcade parades and appearances at schools.
Most events were accompanied by fund-raising appeals for the Freedom Fund, which raised the bulk of the donations during the tour. Democracy for South Africa raised money primarily through the merchandising of T-shirts and other Mandela paraphernalia, said Hinds. That money was to cover expenses of the tour, such as air travel and hotels.
Welcoming committees in each city were briefed before the tour on uniform accounting procedures and given a deadline of Aug. 15 to account for the money they raised, said Wilkins.
But the process became a financial tangle. Each of the cities operated independently and local organizations encountered a number of accounting problems. "For example, there are a number of bounced checks they are trying to recover on," Hinds said.
"In other cases, there are still bills that are coming in and they have held some residuals" to pay them.
In addition, said Mabuza, some cities are still trying to find alternative ways to pay some expenses of the tour, without dipping into the funds slated to help the ANC.
Mabuza said she had no anxiety about the fate of the money or the pace of the accounting process. She recently briefed ANC officials in Johannesburg about the fund-raising and said they are satisfied that all the money will be accounted for.
"We have full confidence in the people that are on the board" of the charities, she said.