The family of Winnie Madikizela-Mandela has called on South Africans to stand behind her daughter and ambassador to Denmark, Zindzi Mandela-Hlongwane, following a backlash over tweets she posted directed at “apartheid apologists”.
Mandela was criticised, most notably by lobby group AfriForum and the Democratic Alliance (DA), for the tone of her tweets and for possibly overstepping the bounds of her office.
Calls for action against her intensified over the weekend when former president Thabo Mbeki slammed Mandela’s tweets and called for International Relations and Cooperation Minister Naledi Pandor to take action against her, if her tweets were found to be against protocol.
But the spokesperson for the family, Mandela’s uncle Prince Madikizela, said she did nothing wrong. Mandela and others who grew up like her were especially traumatised by apartheid and had every right to be angry.
“The very same culprits who are behind what was done to Zindzi are the people in AfriForum, and they feel she has to be muzzled.
“As a family, we are saying even if it’s not Zindzi, it is actually all of the people who need to stand up and say what Zindzi is saying. To us what she is saying is not odd, it is a reality so we must stand up and protect Zindzi,” said Madikizela.
The Sunday Times reported over the weekend that Mbeki wanted Mandela’s tweets looked into.
“There’s no ambassador that should represent themselves and if Zindzi Mandela’s tweets are inconsistent with what the president is saying then it cannot be allowed,” he said. “The president I know has been very insistent on this that land reform must be done on a constitutional and legal basis and such amendments of the constitution are to clarify the circumstance in which you would expropriate land without compensation.”
According to the paper, Mbeki was of the opinion that Mandela’s comments were indulging in hate speech.
While the ANC has not come out to endorse Mandela’s utterances, it defended her right to make them.
Yesterday, the party laid criminal charges of incitement of violence against the musician Steve Hofmeyr. This after the crooner told Mandela in a tweet that she would “die” if she “came after our lives and our land”, ostensibly referring to land belonging to white Afrikaners, a demographic for which Hofmeyr is a self-proclaimed activist.
“We know that there could have been others that were unhappy about the statements that were made by our ambassador to Denmark,” said ANC spokesperson Pule Mabe. “But even with that, no one has got a right to say that they are going to kill us. It doesn’t matter whether you are white or black. He doesn’t have that right.
“The question of land is an emotive issue and we are confident that the processes that our National Assembly is undertaking to look at the amendment of section 25 is a very responsible action,” said Mabe.
Asked whether Mbeki’s call against Mandela-Hlongwane were endorsed by the ANC, Mabe said he had yet to study Mbeki’s comments.