JOHANNESBURG, South Africa (AP) _ The government Friday removed the ban on Nelson Mandela's autobiography, saying it is now ''part of the accepted political rhetoric'' in South Africa.

The government censorship board also lifted the ban on ''A Dry White Season,'' an anti-apartheid movie starring Donald Sutherland and Marlon Brando, made in the United States and based on a novel by South African Andre Brink.

The Publication Appeals Board banned Mandela's autobiography, ''The Struggle Is My Life,'' three years ago.

Mandela was released Feb. 11 after 27 years in prison for his role in launching the bombing and sabotage campaign of the African National Congress. He continues to support the ANC's armed struggle, although it has been largely dormant the past year.

''As far as the principle of armed violence is concerned, (Mandela's) standpoint is so well known that it is unlikely it will change the outlook of the reader toward political violence,'' the Appeals Board said in its judgment.

Other books about Mandela and the ANC have been available in South Africa for several years.

Speaking about ''A Dry White Season,'' the panel said in a statement: ''The board believes this film is a serious one which addresses the sensitive relations between white and black in South Africa.

''In the board's opinion, it attempts to improve these relations: sadly it often loses its effect by falling into propaganda.''

The film was screened at a South African film festival last year but was banned from general circulation.

It concerns a series of injustices suffered by a black family at the hands of white authorities. A white teacher, played by Sutherland, becomes involved and unsuccessfully seeks redress through the courts.

Another anti-apartheid film, ''Cry Freedom,'' is scheduled to reopen in South Africa on April 27.

The board approved the film in July 1988, but police used their powers under the national state of emergency to confiscate it from theaters the day it opened, saying it posed a threat to public safety.

The distributors said police returned the copies of the film recently.

''Cry Freedom'' is about black activist Steve Biko, who died in police custody in 1977, and Donald Woods, a white newspaper editor who had befriended him.