Mandela family feud casts shadow over birthday celebration


A MANDELA family feud involving the African National Congress party has cast a shadow over former South African president Nelson Mandela’s 94th birthday celebrations, which take place today.

As international and local media gathered yesterday in Mr Mandela’s home village of Qunu in the Eastern Cape province to report on the celebrations, there were concerns the disagreement could lead to a lack of family unity and undermine the event.

Tensions within Mr Mandela’s extended family have been running high since the weekend before last when his former wife, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, wrote to the ANC on behalf of the family to complain that it had disrespected them in recent times.

In the email, which was leaked to the media last week, Ms Madikizela-Mandela criticised the ANC for neglecting the Mandelas, saying they only mattered when they had “to be used for some agenda”. She said the Mandelas were not given a table at the ANC’s centenary celebrations in Bloemfontein in January until the last minute when a senior party member stepped in.

Ms Madikizela-Mandela’s outburst was a response to an ANC request to meet the Mandela family to discuss the party’s centenary event in Limpopo province, where party president Jacob Zuma was delivering a lecture on the anti-apartheid icon.

In her email she said the family “rejected” a request for a family member to attend for reasons relating to the “shabby treatment” of Mr Mandela and his family.

Ms Madikizela-Mandela’s granddaughter, Swati Dlamini, confirmed that she had the full backing of the family in her criticism of the ANC. The ANC has refused to comment.

It later transpired that another of Mr Mandela’s granddaughters, Ndileka Mandela, from his marriage to his now deceased first wife, Evelyn, attended the ANC lecture in Limpopo and claimed to be speaking on behalf of the family.

This prompted Ms Madikizela-Mandela to say in a statement that Ndileka Mandela was lying when she told those gathered at the lecture that she was speaking on behalf of the family. In response Ndileka Mandela said that “any suggestion that I was lying is not deserving of comment”.