ANC Youth League faces bankruptcy over debt
November 8, 2013 | 0 Comments
By Andrew Harding*
A political organisation founded by Nelson Mandela is begging the South African public for cash to save it from a looming collapse triggered by the “reckless mismanagement” of its former leaders.
“We are in trouble,” said Mzwandile Masina, national convener for the ANC Youth League.
The league – once a cauldron of political radicalism and a training school for future liberation struggle icons like Oliver Tambo and Walter Sisulu – says it needs to find up to 17 million rand ($1.6m; £1m) to pay its debts by next January or a court will order its closure
The new “National Task Team” currently running the Youth League made their plea at a news conference held in the crowded lobby of the ANC’s Johannesburg headquarters, Luthuli House. Portraits of Mr Mandela were placed conspicuously behind them.
The League lashed out at the judge presiding over their bankruptcy proceedings for making “silly” and “political” decisions. But the biggest criticism was reserved for a man whose name, it quickly became clear, none of the League’s leaders could bear to even mention.
“We don’t have time to promote self-seeking individuals,” said Mr Masina curtly, when I asked him if he was accusing the League’s former leader, Julius Malema, of being a crook.
“Former leaders milked the organisation dry, then went off to create a new self-enrichment scheme in the form of a new political party,” he said.
“We’ve made it our business not to talk about them. We are not calling for [them] to be investigated. We are taking ownership of what has happened,” said Mr Masina, insisting the organisation had been reorganised and still “resonates with millions of young people.”
Mr Malema was expelled from the ANC last year for bringing the party that has ruled South Africa since democracy arrived in 1994 into disrepute and for sowing division. He has since gone on to form a new party, the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), which will compete in next year’s election.
Mr Malema remains a profoundly divisive figure here. An electrifying public speaker, his fiery brand of populism and his unashamedly “bling” lifestyle, have kept him in the headlines for years.
But he is facing fraud charges and a tax investigation, and his calls for the seizure of white-owned land and the nationalisation of mines have alarmed the financial markets and prompted one political rival to compare him to Hitler.
The League’s current leaders say the organisation has been pushed into provisional liquidation by debts incurred during the organisation of a national congress in 2008.
“We want to call on active citizens of South Africa to help with rescuing the organisation of Nelson Mandela. We either pay or close shop. We have not collected a cent to date. We call on progressive business people to contribute,” said Mr Mzwandile, who raised some eyebrows in the room when he said donors would be guaranteed anonymity.
A suited man in the audience raised his hand and said he represented a “holding company” and wanted to know how to help financially.
The timing of all this is awkward for the ANC, as it heads towards elections next year and the possibility that its share of the vote could slip below 60% for the first time.
This is in part because challengers like Mr Malema are expected to chip away at its overwhelming electoral majority. A desire to avoid more bad publicity could very well see the ANC bail out its prodigal and chastened youth division.
On a lighter note, relations between the ANCYL and BBC News appear to have improved since this now infamous encounter between Mr Malema and my colleague Jonah Fisher.
“You’re from the BBC?” the League’s national spokesperson Bandile Masuku asked me after I’d posed a question at the news conference. “Allay your fears. You’re not going to be thrown out!”
Is South Africa Losing the Battle?
November 1, 2013 | 0 Comments
By Jayaseelan Naidoo*
We are the biggest economy in Africa and a third of sub-Saharan GDP. Africa’s average global governance index improved almost 8 times more than the country we freed under the leadership of Mandela, according to the Mo Ibrahim index. And that, even though our national budget has quadrupled to R1.1 trillion over the last 12 years. We have squandered our political and social capital. We are the not the case of exceptionalism we once were. Nor are we the model of good governance.
The Mo Ibrahim Foundation defines governance as the “basket” of the political, social and economic public goods and services that any citizen living in this century has the right to expect from his or her state, and that any state has the responsibility to deliver to its citizens. The Index scores African countries on their progress in four categories: Human development, Participation and Human Rights, Sustainable economic opportunity, and Safety and the Rule of Law.
94 percent of Africans living on the continent are living in a country where global governance has improved. But at the same time of better human development and improved economic opportunities, security and rule of law have deteriorated at the continental level in 32 out of 52 countries. “If this deterioration is not turned around, it could signal an era where, despite fewer regional conflicts, we will see an increase in domestic social unrest across Africa,” warns Mo Ibrahim.
For South Africa it is an acid test of our governance. We should rank number 1 on this Index, not number 5. But growing youth unemployment, the crises in health and education and the rising tide of corruption especially at local level impacts on delivery of the public goods. Add to this the rampant inequality and poverty and shocking events like the Marikana massacre, the violent service delivery protests every day and you have a toxic Molotov.
Mo Ibrahim specified that, the Index presents a mixture of overall progress but also of increased complexity,” as it showed vast differences between countries and highlighted the challenges faced by governments in sustaining that progress.”
At a more granular level, the 2013 Index shows many social indicators, related to Workers’ rights, Freedom of expression and Human rights are declining.
We see a breakdown of legitimacy of leaders at a local level. Communities believe that violence is the only language that will get leaders to listen and solve legitimate grievances. And we should not be surprised that social cohesion, participation and the rule of law is now under threat as demonstrated in the Index.
Another continental trend shows that half our population in Africa is under 19. By 2035 our potential workforce will be bigger than China’s or India’. By 2050 we will represent a quarter of the world`s population. That is a demographic dividend if we use this data to plan and allocate resources to creating viable pathways for our youth out of the poverty and joblessness they face today.
As Hadeel Ibrahim says, “These young people of Africa are our developmental army, the people who are going to transform the futures of our countries. We need improve their rights to skills, technology and build the 21st narrative on job creation, livelihoods and entrepreneurship or social instability and conflict will increase.”
Former Irish President Mary Robinson, a Board member added, “The focus of the MDGs [millennium development goals] is perhaps showing through. The weakness of those goals is they didn’t address rule of law and human rights. As we focus now on sustainable development goals, we need to bring in factors that address these issues. Health and education are important, but it’s worrying that the very issues not improving are the ones that bring social cohesion and peace. There are real challenges there.”
The Index also shows that the gap between the best and worst performing countries is increasing. The Foundation hopes that countries and regions can learn from each other. The good news is that post conflict countries like Sierra Leone, Rwanda, Angola, Burundi and Liberia show the biggest improvements in governance since 2000, while Madagascar, Eritrea, Guinea-Bissau, Somalia and Libya have deteriorated the most over that period.
Lastly the Mo Ibrahim Prize has not been awarded this year. In seven years the prize has been given three times to African Heads of State who have left office. Former South African president Nelson Mandela is an honorary laureate even though he had left office before the prize was inaugurated. The prize, the richest in the world, is $5 million once of and then a yearly award of $200 000 for the remainder of the person’s life. “We hope that those who aspire to the prize will live up to the standards of our 3 Laureates: former President Chissano of Mozambique, President Festus Mogae of Botswana and President Pires of the Cape Verde” said the Prize Committee Chair Salim Ahmed Salim.
Does this mean that Africa has failed the leadership test?
The answer is simply no. But relinquishing office after electoral defeat is surely the bare minimum we should expect from our leaders; it’s hardly a mark of excellence. The Prize is awarded to exceptional leadership while in office, not just to the mere act of stepping down voluntarily. I seriously doubt that if this prize existed in Europe or North America it would have been given to any head of state in the last seven years.
But there is a way forward for our leaders. “The Index is the most accurate picture of what is going on in Africa, based on data, not personal views or political bias,” said Ibrahim. “This is reality, a mirror put in front of Africa. This is not a time for African pessimism or optimism. These things are fashionable. This is the time to be realistic and stick to facts. We’re calling for Afro-realism.”
Former President of Botswana Ketumile Masire said, “The public should use this as a tool to check the performance of their governments. We need governments to use these data as something to help them to assess themselves and how the situation can be improved.”
The Index provides a clear roadmap to the success and competitiveness of African countries in improving governance and with it the desired reward of the Mo Ibrahim Prize. But we aim to raise the bar even higher next year as we focus on future trends relating to inequality, social and economic inclusion, poverty and quality of public services at a more granular level.
The people of Africa deserve the restoration of human dignity. The index is our measurement of that commitment to justice.
Disclaimer: Jay Naidoo sits on the Board of the Mo Ibrahim Foundation
Follow Jayaseelan Naidoo on Twitter: www.twitter.com/https://twitter
Julius Malema’s Economic Freedom Fighters to fight poll
September 6, 2013 | 0 Comments
South Africa’s former African National Congress Youth League leader, Julius Malema, has registered a political party to contest next year’s elections.
The party, the Economic Freedom Fighters, will seek to redistribute land and nationalise South Africa’s rich mines, he said.
He launched the EFF in July but did not say whether it would take part in the 2014 poll.
Mr Malema was expelled from the governing ANC in 2012 for indiscipline.
He also faces corruption charges, which he says are politically motivated.
Mr Malema described the launch of his party as “the beginning of [a] real radical, militant and decisive political programme which will lead to real emancipation of the people of South Africa, Africa and the world”, the South African Press Association quotes him as saying.
“The oppressed and exploited people of the world should now expect real anti-imperialist actions and political programmes which will practically and programmatically undermine neo-liberalism and global capitalism.”
As well as redistributing land and nationalising the mines, he promised to provide free, quality education, healthcare and sanitation.
BBC South Africa analyst Farouk Chothia says Mr Malema is popular, especially with the young and the poor, but it is not clear whether he will be able to set up a nationwide party, capable of grass-roots campaigning and mobilising voters.
Once a close ally of President Jacob Zuma, Mr Malema has become one of his strongest critics and campaigned for his removal from office at the ANC’s national conference in December 2012.
He has accused the president of not doing enough to help the poor black voters who had helped to elect him.
The ANC has a huge majority in parliament and has governed since the end of white minority rule in 1994.
But analysts say that increasing numbers of South Africans are losing faith in the party, accusing it of corruption and failing to improve the lives of ordinary people.
South Africa is the continent’s biggest economy, largely based on its mineral wealth, but it has experienced sluggish growth in recent years.
MTN:Delivering a bold new Digital World to over 200m subscribers in 22 countries
August 19, 2013 | 0 Comments
MTN Group today marked its 200 million subscriber milestone by announcing a bold R200 million initiative to improve the quality of education across its markets in Africa and the Middle East over the next two years.
News of MTN reaching the 200 million subscriber mark comes a year before it celebrates 20 years of connecting people and economies, from South Africa – the launch pad – to South Sudan, its most recent market.
As a multinational telecommunications company operating in emerging markets, says MTN Group President and CEO Sifiso Dabengwa, MTN has a particular opportunity to make a meaningful contribution to social development.
“Due to the lack of access to quality education and infrastructure, and low literacy rates in most of these countries, MTN has chosen to direct a significant amount of its corporate social (CSI) spend towards education over the next two year. This will provide people with the skills, knowledge and confidence they need to make positive decisions about their lives,” says Dabengwa.
MTN runs a comprehensive multi-country CSI programme through MTN Foundations spanning education, health and other national priorities. A grand total of R193 million was spent in these three areas during 2012. Going forward, the company will scale up its contribution towards building knowledge economies in its markets by investing in more education initiatives aimed at empowering learners and teachers using ICTs and mobile learning.
As seen in MTN’s 2013 interim results released today, MTN is a growth company with a solid performance record and an aspirational vision to lead the delivery of a bold new digital world to its customers.
It will continue to share the fruits of its success with customers and communities through, among others, offering affordable and innovative services, as well as investing in social upliftment and network infrastructure to improve the quality of its services.
“We are grateful to our customers for their loyalty and contribution to the growth of the MTN brand over the years. Using that feedback, MTN is making significant investments towards improving the quality of our service, while also providing solutions designed to make a real difference in the lives of our customers,” adds Dabengwa.
The MTN brand has achieved great prominence over the years. For two consecutive years, MTN emerged as the highest ranked African brand in the prestigious Millward-Brown Brandz Top 100 Most Valuable Global Brands 2013 survey. Most recently, MTN emerged as South Africa’s most valuable brand in this year’s BrandFinance Most Valuable Brands Survey, for a second consecutive year.
“The award is further acknowledgement of our on-going efforts to enhance customer experience in the various touch-points in the markets,” says Dabengwa.
To achieve this ambition, which will allow MTN to provide a seamless service experience to customers across its markets, the company has launched a project aptly called ‘Perfect 10’. Already launched in Ghana, Nigeria, Cote d’Ivoire, Zambia and South Africa, the initiative aims to give customers a 10 out of 10 experience of the MTN network, products and services. Benefits of the programme are already filtering through to customers. In Ghana, for example, where the programme was first launched, feedback received in the early stages of implementation has been very positive.
Looking ahead, Dabengwa says the company’s new vision, to lead the delivery of a bold new Digital World, and mission to make our customers’ lives a whole lot brighter, has positioned MTN well for further growth into the future.
“MTN’s previous vision ‘to be the leader in telecommunications in emerging markets’ has largely been achieved. The need for a broader digital offering led MTN to refresh its vision and mission and refine its strategic objectives. We believe MTN is now ready for the next frontier of growth – digital services. And we are humbled that over 200 million of our subscribers are embarking on this journey with us, to lead the delivery of a bold new digital world.”
Selling Mandela: From t-shirts to TV shows, how Madiba became a brand
August 19, 2013 | 0 Comments
From Robyn Curnow*
He has not formally appeared in public for years, and recently he’s been battling illness inside a Pretoria hospital. But former South African president Nelson Mandela is still a beloved icon across the world, an international symbol of courage, strength and hope.
The 95-year-old Nobel laureate is also one of the world’s most recognizable figures. More than just a man, he has become a global brand — one that’s estimated to be worth millions of dollars. Ever since Mandela was released from prison, where he had endured 27 years for fighting apartheid, many South Africans have felt like they’d like to “own” a little piece of him.
As a result, the smiling image of Madiba, as Mandela is affectionately referred to by South Africans, has been emblazoned on all sorts of memorabilia, items that are usually not associated with his legacy — everything from t-shirts and place mats to banknotes and even salt and pepper shakers.
Some members of Mandela’s own family have also been accused of cashing in on the anti-apartheid icon’s legacy, using the world-renowned name for business ventures such as a collection of wines, called the “House of Mandela,” or a clothing range branded with his prison number or an image of his hand.
More recently, two of his granddaughters — Zaziwe Dlamini-Manaway and Swati Dlamini –starred in their own reality TV series, “Being Mandela,” in which the family showed some of the Mandela-branded products. In answer to critics accusing them of tarnishing the Mandela name, his granddaughters say it’s their name too, and that they are treating it with respect and integrity.
“You can’t tell people how not to celebrate their father, or grandfather, or great grandfather, because they are using their own name,” says Sello Hatang, head of the Nelson Mandela Center of Memory, which Mandela founded to continue his work after he retired.
“It would be arrogant … to say you can’t use your name so it’s ensuring that we stick to what we believe is the legacy,” he continues.
Speaking to CNN earlier this year, Mandela’s daughter Maki, who is behind the wine brand, said that using the family name is important because it promotes South Africa, as well as a good product. She added that her father had told her: “If you use the name either for commercial or charitable or political (purposes), use it with a lot of integrity and responsibility.”
But how can Mandela’s legacy and values be balanced with the commercial potential of his image? Hatang says that when Mandela’s name was used by Viagra without permission, there was a public backlash.
“When Madiba was turning 90, they put up their own ad saying, ‘Madiba turns 90, Viagra turns 10,'” explains Hatang. “And it was members of the public who objected, so it tells you that the legacy of Mandela is not just being preserved by us but it’s being preserved and protected by many others.”
While it’s still unclear exactly who will control the “Mandela Brand” in the years to come, the way Madiba’s legacy and image endures seems to depend on all those who have a stake in it — from his family and his party, the African National Congress, to the people of South Africa.
Those who know him say he is comfortable with that, never prescribing how he should be honored.
“We tend to not want to recognize Madiba as a brand,” says Hatang. “He represents something in humanity that we should all have. It’s that thing that’s special in each one of us, where we need to reach deep to find it,” he adds.
Nelson Mandela: the Man and His Legacy
July 2, 2013 | 0 Comments
*James N. Kariuki
“If a man doesn’t have a job or income, he has neither life nor liberty… He merely exists.” Martin Luther King, Jr.
The image of Nelson Mandela was largely shaped by his three decades of imprisonment for daring to challenge apartheid. While he sat in an apartheid cell, his struggle was continued by his foot soldiers in South Africa and beyond.
Many continental Africans learned about the agonies of SA and Mandela, not from South Africans, but from Tanzania’s Julius Nyerere who also detested apartheid-SA for condemning its black citizens into refugees in their own country. Conceivably, Nyerere did more to publicize the inhumanity of apartheid around the world than any of his contemporaries. This was until black South Africans could dispatch their own emissaries abroad.
Julius Nyerere survived long enough to relish first-hand a democratic SA and shake hands with Nelson Mandela as a free man. Meanwhile, in his lifetime, the anti-apartheid mission to which Nyerere had also dedicated himself and his country was embraced by continental Africa. Ghana had come to know and care deeply about the inhumanity of apartheid; so did Nigeria and others. They all swore to its demolition sooner than later.
In Africa, Europe, US and even the United Nations apartheid came to be known as a monster of un-freedom, an evil and racially oppressive system. The outside world did not know many details about the horrors of racist SA; apartheid shielded its ugly face from public view the best it could. Unwittingly, continental Africa also came to feed into that enigma by endorsing a policy of isolation of pariah SA from the outside world as a form of punishment.
Inevitably, Mandela became the most eloquent face of diabolical SA under apartheid, the ultimate symbol of victimhood for black people. His image gave life to the agonies of black folk in SA, Africa, and everywhere. Almost every black child in London, Harlem-New York, Southside-Chicago, Watts in Los Angeles, Havana etc knew the name of Mandela. There were calls everywhere to free Mandela, code words for ‘dismantle apartheid.’
When Mandela was finally released from prison in 1990, the entire world held its breath. Most of it expected a feisty, angry, and vengeful man. But the newest prison graduate stunned mankind by declaring publicly that his intention was to build a new SA for all those who lived in it. In quest for a ‘rainbow nation,’ Mandela went to great lengths to comfort his former tormentors. He was serious; he was not playing politics about racial forgiveness and reconciliation.
To substantiate the spirit of suffering without bitterness, Mandela resorted to potent symbolic gestures. Among others, he donned a green jersey of the SA national rugby team and attended the 1995 Rugby World Cup final. That simple act charmed and thrilled millions of Afrikaner rugby enthusiasts. Until then, South African rugby was by tradition a preserve of the whites while soccer was a blacks’ domain.
A year earlier, in May 1994, Mandela had startled friend and foe alike by inviting his prison warden to his presidential inauguration. But it was in August 1995 that many black South Africans felt that Mandela went too far by having tea with Betsie Verwoerd, the unrepentant wife of the main architect of apartheid.
Detractors objected to what to them appeared like appeasement on Mandela’s part to the former perpetrators of apartheid. But admirers saw that generosity of spirit as what made Mandela unique, a global icon. Some even stood prepared to confer sainthood upon him. Inside SA, Mandela’s majestic presence and the force of his personality were seen as the ‘Madiba magic.’ He was truly the ultimate humble giant.
It is commonly accepted that Nelson Mandela delivered convincingly to all South Africans a peaceful transition from apartheid to democracy. On the other hand, an undercurrent of thought exists that Madiba accepted a bad deal for black South Africans; economically they were left on the outside. Democratic freedom was fine but, it was not enough without removing the shackles of economic deprivation for the majority blacks. As distinguished Professor Ali Mazrui once noted, a Faustian deal was struck in 1994: “the Whites said to the Blacks, ‘take the Crown and we will keep the Jewels.’” As racial apartheid was outlawed, economic apartheid was entrenched.
Mandela was mindful that economic apartheid remained intact, that post-apartheid SA was a society of excessive white wealth in an endless sea of black poverty. As he explained later, this was not an accident, a case of oversight or a quest for personal glory. Rather, the surrounding circumstances compelled him to concede to the dictum of his Ghanaian predecessor, Kwame Nkrumah, who once said, “Seek ye first the political kingdom and all else shall be added unto it.”
Mandela followed a well-considered strategy. He was aware that, in a racially and economically divided SA, a sudden nationalization of the commanding heights of the economy (i.e. land and mining) was likely to explode into bloodshed and flight of white skills and capital. Post-apartheid SA could barely endure either, let alone both. Mandela thinking was driven, not by ‘sentimental fancies’, but by practical imperatives of a nation’s survival.
Mandela did bring political kingdom to SA, but fusing economic equality into it has turned out to be difficult. Two decades after demolition of political apartheid, Black SA remains horrifically poor in absolute and relative terms. Indeed in 2009, the country sidelined Brazil as the most skewed society in the world. How to close this gap between the white haves and black have-nots, how to rectify this politically explosive lopsidedness, has been the most pressing challenge in post-apartheid politics.
Post-Mandela SA remains a nation divided; a viable and united SA is still a dream deferred, a work in progress. Phase one of political freedom is indeed in place, thanks to Nelson Mandela. Step two requires injecting economic freedom for all into it; fusing what former President Thabo Mbeki once called South Africa’s two-nations into one. This is a more difficult challenge than defying apartheid, one that requires inviting to the table more than just a single Mandela. The starting point must be that each of the existing two SA nation-states accepts that it is to its interest that a merger occurs.
*James N. Kariuki is Professor of International Relations (Emeritus) and an independent writer. He is based in South Africa. Views expressed in the blog Global Africa are his.
Mandela’s health: Zuma sings in praise of-ex-president
June 26, 2013 | 0 Comments
South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma has sung a rousing anti-apartheid song for Nelson Mandela, 94, who is critically ill in hospital.
Mr Mandela, South Africa’s first black president, was admitted to hospital on 8 June with a recurring lung infection.
On a visit to the hospital on Tuesday, a cleric prayed for his “peaceful end”.
Also visiting on Tuesday was Mr Mandela’s daughter Zindzi, who said her father had “opened his eyes and smiled”.
Mr Mandela’s condition became critical on Sunday.
He is being treated at a private hospital in the capital, Pretoria.
On Wednesday, Mr Zuma told delegates at a conference of the National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union (Nehawu) that he remained in a critical condition and “we must keep him and the family in our thoughts and prayers every minute”.
Mr Zuma opened the conference in the main city, Johannesburg, with a popular song about Mr Mandela, the South African Press Association (Sapa) reports.
“We are walking a long distance, so said Nelson Mandela to his supporters,” he sang in the local Zulu language, as the crowd ululated, Sapa reports.
Mr Mandela, known by his clan name Madiba, is revered for leading the fight against white minority rule in South Africa and then preaching reconciliation despite being imprisoned for 27 years.
He left power in 1999 after five years as the country’s first black president.
On Tuesday, Cape Town Archbishop Thabo Makgoba prayed with Mr Mandela’s wife Graca Machel at the hospital.
“May [we] be filled with gratitude for all the good that he has done for us and for our nation, and may [we] honour his legacy through our lives…”reads the prayer, which was posted on Archbishop Makgoba’s Facebook page.
“Grant Madiba eternal healing and relief from pain and suffering. Grant him, we pray, a quiet night and a peaceful, perfect end.”
Zindzi, the youngest of Mr Mandela’s three daughters, told the US broadcaster ABC News in a phone conversation on Tuesday night that she had held her father’s hand whilst talking to him about recent events, including the news that US President Barack Obama was due to visit South Africa at the end of the week.
During the conversation he opened his eyes and smiled, she said.
Ms Mandela felt like she was walking on air, and walked out of the hospital with a “huge sense of hope”, she added.
Meanwhile, a friend of Mr Mandela and the leader of the opposition United Democratic Movement (UDM) party, Bantu Holomisa, denied that a row had broken out in the ex-president’s family over funeral arrangements.
Mr Holomisa, along with Mr Mandela’s children, grandchildren, traditional leaders and government ministers, met on Tuesday in Qunu, the village where Mr Mandela grew up and spent of his time after he stepped down as president in 1999, South Africa’s Star newspaper reports.
“The purpose of the meeting was to brief the elders about Mandela’s condition…. One does not want to leave the elders behind,” Mr Holomisa told the local Mail and Guardian newspaper.
The Star reports that it has learned from three sources that Mr Mandela’s grandson and his traditional heir, Mandla, wants the former president to be buried in the nearby village of Mvezo where he was born.
However, other family members want the burial to take place in Qunu. They also want the bodies of three of Mr Mandela’s children, including his son, Makgatho, who died of an Aids-related illness in 2005, to be exhumed from Mvezo and moved back to Qunu, the paper reports.
The former South African president has children from his two previous wives, Evelyn Mase and Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, both of whom he divorced.
He retired from public life in 2004 and has rarely been seen at official events since.
He has a long history of lung problems, and was diagnosed with tuberculosis in the 1980s while he was a prisoner on Robben Island.
After his release, Mr Mandela said that the tuberculosis was probably caused by dampness in his prison cell.
Can a new party in South Africa really woo voters?
June 25, 2013 | 3 Comments
“They steal from us so how can we vote for them,” complains Kaiser Kangwana of the African National Congress (ANC), whose leaders in the Eastern Cape province have been mired by allegations of corruption.
Mr Kangwana, who sweated it out working in the mines for many years, is now among the disillusioned voters which Dr Mamphela Ramphele’s new party hopes to woo.
Mr Kangwana’s well-worn ANC hat belies the fact that he is a disappointed man.
“People don’t have jobs, they’re still poor around here,” he shrugs.
The new party, which the charismatic Dr Ramphele leads, is called Agang. It means “to build” in the Sepedi language.
The party’s stated aim is to galvanise South Africans to build on the democratic foundations left by former President Nelson Mandela and other icons of the struggle.
It is a legacy which some believe is now being squandered by the ANC – a party regularly accused of poor governance and failing to deliver basic services such as housing, water and jobs.
Broadly pro-business and anti-corruption Agang has yet to set out clear policies, but it seeks to make politicians more accountable, public servants more efficient, and put education at the top of the political agenda.
Its supporters believe that black economic empowerment programmes have simply enriched the few, and believes that the 30bn rand ($2.9bn, £1.9bn) that is estimated to be “lost” each year from the public purse, could be ploughed back into essential services.
But political analysts believe Agang could turn out to be a one-woman show.
Dr Ramphele is an impressive figure with impeccable “struggle credentials” – factors which still influence the way some South Africans vote.
As a community doctor who worked in the Eastern Cape alongside her partner, the late Steve Biko, Dr Ramphele led grassroots resistance against white minority rule in the 1970s.
Twenty years later saw the death of the apartheid government.
Dr Ramphele has been a director of the World Bank, a vice chancellor at the University of Cape Town, and until recently sat on the board of a major mining company.
But the fact that she has such an impressive CV may well count against her.
“The only person with a profile, the only person with credibility is the party leader,” says Aubrey Matshiqi, a political analyst with the Helen Suzman Foundation.
“We have been here before and such parties have not done well.”
In 2008, a new party called Congress of the People (Cope) was born.
Capitalising on disillusionment with the ANC and appealing to a growing black middle class, it secured 7% of the vote in the last elections.
But since then it has virtually imploded, wracked by infighting amongst its leaders.
Dr Ramphele insists that Agang is different because it is not the product of a breakaway group.
“I voted from 1994, but I have never carried a membership card.”
Commentators like Mr Matshiqi say that if successful, Agang could win around a million votes – many of them from Cope – when South Africa goes to the polls next year.
Yet for the party to have a real impact, it needs to win over the masses and make a dent in the ANC’s whopping two-thirds majority in parliament.
Dr Ramphele has spoken about the possibility of forging coalitions with other smaller parties to win over young black urban voters.
In her mid-60s, she may struggle to appeal to the younger generation.
But she boasts a bevy of young party staffers who are driven by a vision that “looks to the future not the past”.
As for a political partner, Dr Ramphele will have to make her selection carefully.
The most obvious candidate is the Democratic Alliance (DA), South Africa’s official opposition, which courted Dr Ramphele before she formed Agang.
But the DA is still considered by some South Africans to be “too white” – an image that the party is working hard to repair and which Dr Ramphele knows could repel potential voters.
Dr Ramphele, is keeping her cards close to her chest.
She told the BBC that her party was still “in conversation [with the DA], we just happen to have a different focus”.
“We can reach much further than where the DA can reach, because we are not bringing any baggage to the party,” she said.
The ANC does not regard Dr Ramphele as a threat, and said when she first proposed creating Agang in February that she was “goading” South Africans to be on the political periphery.
A new political party which puts corruption and inefficiency in the spotlight is bound to have some appeal, at a time when some South Africans fear the ANC has lost its moral edge.
But Sibusisu Segwane, a young graduate in Johannesburg, is still likely to reserve his vote for the ANC.
Although he is impressed with Dr Ramphele herself, he seems afraid to “waste” his vote.
“The ANC is the only party with experience of government,” he sighs.
It is a sentiment shared by many in South Africa, who may protest on the streets about poor service delivery and jobs but who give their vote to the ANC on election day despite their misgivings.
Dr Ramphele and her party may not pose a massive electoral challenge to the ANC, but she is exposing a wider sense of disenchantment in the post-Mandela era.
Critics say the ruling party achieved huge strides back in the 1990s but now risks courting a culture of patronage, threatening the “democratic space”.
The high-profile murder of an anti-corruption investigator this week has led friends to warn Dr Ramphele to tread carefully in the months ahead.
Yet her experience of protesting over threats to press freedom and the “stalling” over the Dalai Lama’s trip to South Africa two years ago, suggests that she has no fear of controversy.
“I am doing this for my grandchildren, for my children, and I am doing his because South Africans have an enormous unbreakable spirit that when mobilised, makes them say enough is enough,” she said.
A white South African’s memories of Mandela
June 14, 2013 | 0 Comments
By Nadia Bilchik*
I was born in Johannesburg, South Africa, in 1964, the year Martin Luther King Jr. was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, the Civil Rights Act was passed in the United States, and Nelson Mandela was sentenced to life in prison.
Mine was a relatively idyllic childhood in the affluent and segregated northern suburbs of Johannesburg. Like many white South Africans, I lived in an ignorant cocoon of privilege, with no idea that having two live-in maids, a full-time gardener and a driver was unusual. It was perfectly normal for my African nannies, Rosina and Phina, to live with us rather than with their own children, and there was no need to learn their language or even their last names.
It was only as a teenager that I began to realize something was horribly wrong. Phina and I were walking along the road of our pristine “whites only” neighborhood when we saw a police van stop. Two armed white police officers got out and began interrogating the black passers by. They roughly shoved several of them into their van, screaming obscenities all the time.
I was terrified and asked Phina what was going on. She explained that the police were on a “pass” raid, and any black person in a white suburb without an identity book stamped with official permission to live and work in Johannesburg was a criminal and liable to arrest.
From that day on I was no longer innocent to the evils of apartheid.
A teacher in my segregated public elementary believed in schooling her privileged white students in the injustices happening all around them. Suddenly Phina and Rosina became real people to me, and I learned for the first time about Nelson Mandela and the African National Congress.
Songs like “Free Nelson Mandela” became part of our consciousness, but Mandela himself was still a mythical figure: the blanket of South African government censorship, which made it a crime to publish the words of prohibited leaders and organizations, or to write about the South African Security Forces or prison conditions, kept us in relative ignorance.
The Soweto riots happened on June 16, 1976. Police shot into huge crowds of schoolchildren of all ages protesting a directive they could not be taught in their own language. Hundreds of people were killed; the cruelty and brutality of the government’s reaction was met with rioting that spread to other townships. It was the beginning of the end of colonial, racist South Africa. The shooting death of 13-year-old Hector Peterson galvanized the world. Yet we knew little about it, even though Soweto was less than 20 miles away.
In high school, history teacher Mr. Lowry, who had been arrested several times for anti-apartheid activism, insisted we wear black armbands every June 16th. We complied. But it was only in February 1994, in my late 20s and standing for hours in a long line of black and white South Africans to vote in the country’s first democratic election, that I came close to truly understanding the unforgivable nature of apartheid.
Next to me was a dignified 75-year-old man who had taken two buses and walked 10 miles to the voting station to vote for the first time in his life. On my other side was Salaminah, the lady who was helping raise my children, and who had become an integral part of our lives. Only now, at the age of 55, was she considered a real citizen in the place where she and her ancestors had lived for hundreds of years.
We whites had lived in a place that denied people their basic human rights. Why had it taken so long to change this inhumane system? How had we allowed it? I stood in that line experiencing a mixture of jubilation and guilt. Had I really lived for 29 years in a country that had denied the majority of its people the right to vote?
It was also a time to truly appreciate the enormous sacrifice and achievement of Nelson Mandela and his comrades.
Mandela’s release from prison in February 1990 had been both a highly anticipated and enormously feared event. Many members of the white South African minority were terrified of the kind of displacement and retribution that has historically followed revolutions and major changes in government. So you can imagine everyone’s relief when, rather than calling for a revolution, Mandela instead preached reconciliation, and spoke of a Rainbow Nation and the importance of Ubuntu — we are human through the humanity of others. It was then that the brilliance of Mandela as a peacemaker, a politician and a statesman emerged.
To really understand the psyche of Mandela is to grasp his profound lack of bitterness, a quality that is almost inhuman for a man who spent 27 years as a prisoner of the South African government. It seems Mandela consciously cultivated that quality. He wrote: “As I walked out the door toward the gate that would lead to my freedom, I knew if I didn’t leave my bitterness and hatred behind, I’d still be in prison.”
As chronicled in the Clint Eastwood movie “Invictus,” this is a man who donned a green rugby jersey during the Rugby World Cup in 1995 to send a message to racist white South African rugby players and fans that everyone in the “Rainbow Nation” of the new South Africa would be rooting for their victory. This is a man who in 1995 visited Betsie Verwoed, the 94-year-old widow of one of the prime architects of apartheid, and a man who invited his white jailor as a VIP guest to his inauguration as the country’s first black president.
I first met Mandela at a business awards gathering. The second time was at the opening of the SOS children’s village in Cape Town where he presided as guest of honor. He was charming, talking to me about my job while holding my hand. He was still extremely energetic at 79 and very handsome. His only ailment was watery eyes, the result of 13 years spent doing hard labor at the limestone quarry on Robben Island, where he spent 18 years of his 27 years of imprisonment in a small cell.
I also met the president at the Mandela House in Johannesburg when he greeted the Manchester United soccer team, who were visiting South Africa. It was amazing to see these superstar athletes awestruck at being in the presence of the most famous politician of this generation.
It was 1997, and the transformation of the country’s psyche was palpable. We were no longer the pariahs of the world, and suddenly Mandela had lifted South Africa from disgrace to worldwide acceptance and applause. He had done so gracefully and relatively peacefully. That is probably why nearly everyone introduced to Mandela would tear up, so moved were they by his stature and accomplishments.
Mandela’s family suffered. His daughters Zenani and Zindzi and their mother Winnie were exiled to Brandfort, a town hundreds of miles away from Johannesburg. They grew up without their father, sleeping on the floor. Mandela lost three of his six children, one of whom died while he was in prison. In June of 2010, his beloved great-granddaughter Zenii was killed in a car accident at the start of the World Cup Soccer Tournament.
Now, at 94, nearly 95, like most mortals in their twilight years, Mandela is frail, and in the hospital yet again, in serious condition.
All this is not to say that Mandela’s emphasis on facilitating a peaceful transition of power in South Africa has not been criticized. Many believed, and still do, that Mandela was too conciliatory and that too little was done to transform the South African economy. Indeed, to a large extent, economic power still remains mainly in the hands of whites and a small black elite. The country is grappling with enormous problems, including high unemployment and growing corruption.
Indeed, the new South Africa that owes its relative peace and prosperity to the transformative vision of Nelson Mandela is still a work in progress. But, whatever the future brings for the Rainbow Nation, Mandela will always be the man who turned a nightmare into a vision, a vision into a dream and a dream into a reality.
Nelson Mandela: Is it time for South Africa to let him go?
June 11, 2013 | 0 Comments
By Pumza Fihlani*
But deep down the millions who adore him know that that day is inevitable.
Following a string of health scares in the recent past, South Africans are beginning to come to terms with the mortality of their 94-year-old icon.
Still, this in an uncomfortable topic here.
Somadoda Fikeni, head of the South African Heritage Resources Agency (Sahra), puts it this way: “We no longer have an icon on his level, not only here in South Africa but in the world.
“People see him as the antidote to the current social ills we are faced with. That is why people are still holding on to him.”
According to Isintu – traditional South African culture – the very sick do not die unless the family ‘releases’ them spiritually”
South Africans see Mr Mandela as the glue that is holding the country together and believe that the social challenges of crime, poverty, corruption and unemployment can only be overcome if they have him to inspire the country’s leaders to greatness.
It might be too high an aspiration to place on one individual, but in the eyes of many here, Mr Mandela is no mere individual.
Nevertheless, for the first time it seems that the tone surrounding Mr Mandela’s increasingly frail health is beginning to change.
The Sunday Times newspaper at the weekend led with the headline: “It’s time to let him go.”
A blunt phrase bound to cause discomfort for the family and indeed many others in South Africa.
But these were not the words of someone who is nonchalant about what Mr Mandela represents to this country. These were the words of a dear friend and fellow Robben Island prisoner, Andrew Mlangeni, upon hearing that Mr Mandela had again been admitted to hospital.
Many are fully aware of Mr Mandela’s poor health and advanced age, but almost in the same breath they say they want him to live for many more years.
It’s an extraordinary relationship, an impossible love.
At dinner tables South Africans talk about the Nobel Laureate’s need to rest but none utter the phrase that could change it all: “Siyakukhulula tata” – Xhosa for “We release you, father”.
According to Isintu – traditional South African culture – the very sick do not die unless the family “releases” them spiritually – only then will they be at peace in surrendering to death.
Culturally, this practice is seen as “permission” to die and this permission needs to be given by the family; it is reassurance from loved ones that they will be fine.
Mr Fikeni says that the other reason a person fights death is because they have unfinished business.
“It may be that squabbling within his family is troubling him and that needs to be addressed while he is still here. He may not be well received on the other side until these issues have been resolved.”
This may be a reference to a recent court case which has seen an attempt by Mr Mandela’s daughters, Makaziwe and Zenani, to oust three of his aides from companies linked to him.
It is not easy to get people to speak about Mr Mandela’s passing.
The BBC contacted three other cultural experts who refused to comment for fear of a backlash from the family or indeed fellow South Africans.
The press has been less fearful. Local and international media have reported on his four hospital visits since late last year. They camp outside hospitals for days eager to get an update on his health.
During the periods of his illness, the common theme in headlines is to call on South Africans to pray for his speedy recovery – further testimony that many are not ready to lose him.
But Mr Mandela’s visits to hospital have become lengthier and his care more specialised.
President Jacob Zuma and a number of top officials from the governing African National Congress visited him at his Houghton home in Johannesburg shortly after his last release in April. Mr Mandela was seen sitting on a beige couch with a blanket on his legs.
He had a blank expression on his face. On his cheeks, the marks of where a hospital oxygen mask had been. The images were widely criticised.
This time around all we know is that he is in intensive care, and he is being treated for a recurring lung infection.
The presidency is juggling the need to inform South Africans and the world, while respecting the family’s request for privacy. It is an unenviable task.
Anyone who has loved a father or grandfather can attest to wanting that person to live forever – people here see Mr Mandela as the greatest father there ever was.
He after all averted civil war, many South Africans believe, when he called on black and white people to reconcile amid marked racial tension, a time when South Africa seemed on the brink of collapse, destined to descend into anarchy like so many fellow African countries.
But the country still faces division; racism rears its head every so often, the ANC is more divided now than it has ever been.
A culture of tribalism is slowly creeping into the fibre of the new South Africa – some experts say this is due to a lack of firm leadership from the liberation movement.
These divisions are forcing South Africans to take a closer look at Nelson Mandela’s dream of the “rainbow nation” and ask whether it is still alive – and whether it will live on after him.
Some still believe South Africa can surmount its challenges.
“It’s a shared idea that what we have now is better than what he had in the past. All we need to do is hold on to this shared vision of a better South Africa,” says political analyst, Ralph Mathekga.
Fears that Mr Mandela’s passing will lead to anarchy are “unrealistic”, he says, adding that South Africans need to focus on how they can continue the legacy.
“The best way to honour him will be to carry on his values of tolerance and conversation,” says Mr Mathekga.
“An African Renaissance is under way,”-former South African President Thabo Mbeki
June 7, 2013 | 0 Comments
By Dorothée Enskog*
“An African Renaissance is under way,” said the former South African president, Thabo Mbeki, in an interview. He also discussed the immense economic and political progress achieved over the past two decades, acknowledging that major challenges must be overcome to eradicate the African continent’s poverty and underdevelopment.
How has South Africa evolved since the first democratic elections were held in South Africa nearly 20 years ago?
Thabo Mbeki: We defined that our task was to transform South Africa into a non-racial, non-sexist, democratic and prosperous country 20 years ago. A lot of progress has been made with regard to democracy. I do not think there is anyone today who questions the fact the we have a democratic country. There may be all sorts of challenges, but basically I think that objective has been achieved.
Now with regard to a non-racial society, I would say that some progress has been made but that many challenges remain. With regard to gender equality, there has been some improvement, with higher female representation in the economic and political system. More generally, the workload linked to fetching water from rivers and firewood and so on, traditionally carried out by women, has been somewhat reduced with the introduction of clean and piped water, electricity… So there is some progress there.
With regard to creating a prosperous society, there has indeed been progress. The growth and the emergence of a quite significant black middle class is a fact. It’s a reflection of that prosperity which gets spread around, but we nevertheless still have a very large volume of entrenched poverty in the country.
20 years is not enough to address all of these challenges. South Africa clearly needs more time to be able to say: ‘We’re now satisfied, we’ve made sufficient progress.’
Do you believe that South Africa will be able to achieve these tasks during the next two decades?
It is difficult to give a time frame. It’s a continuing challenge. The sooner they can be achieved, the better. But it’s largely dependent on the availability of resources.
You served as president for 10 years. What were your biggest achievements and the main challenges you faced?
The African National Congress (ANC) agreed on a Reconstruction and Development Programme in 1994, defining what we wanted to do to transform South Africa into a non-racial, non-sexist, democratic and prosperous country, so what I just explained.
Another major change since 1994 is that South Africa has normalized its relations with the rest of the world after a long period of international isolation, because of the apartheid system. That’s gone very well. South Africa is now a normal member of the international community.
We had and still have to struggle against poverty. The section of the population worst affected by that poverty is women.
Turning to the African continent as a whole, would you say that an African “Renaissance” is an aspiration or a reality?
The African continent has accepted that it must achieve its rebirth. We should understand that “Renaissance” in the context of what happened in the past, as a departure from the past that was plagued by
• political challenges, like military coups and civil wars;
• economic challenges, such as increasing poverty; and
• the marginalization of the African continent in the conduct of international affairs, particularly during the Cold War, when the continent was in fact directed by the super powers.
The continent has developed politically, with an overwhelming majority of the countries now being governed by properly elected governments. There has also been a radical decline in violent conflict. Since around 2002, the G8 has invited delegations from the African continent to its annual meetings. They could no longer discuss the future of Africa on their own, without us. Africa has also developed economically, continuing to grow during the global financial crisis of 2008 and in its aftermath. An African “Renaissance” is clearly under way.
What are Africa’s greatest assets?
Its material and human resources. The continent is blessed with large quantities of natural resources, which have been behind much of the economic growth that we’ve witnessed over the last 10 years.
Africa also has a lot of arable land that is not being used. This is obviously another important asset. The utilization of that arable land, irrigation, modern methods of farming, the development of the necessary infrastructure to make sure that the produce reaches the markets, however, needs to be improved.
The continent has access to a number of renewable energy sources, with enormous hydro-electric possibilities along the river Congo, for example. We could light up a lot of the continent, if this energy was used. There is a lot of discussion about putting up solar panels in the Sahara desert, which is virtually unoccupied and could produce so much energy that it could even be exported to Europe. And let’s not forget about the potential use of the water that surrounds the continent – the Mediterranean Sea, the Indian Ocean and the Atlantic.
Yet another asset is our young population. We don’t have an aging population with fewer and fewer workers maintaining an increasing number of older people, like in Europe and Japan. We have this workforce. The challenge that comes with it is that it needs proper education and skills, as well as job opportunities. It can otherwise become a threat to the stability if it remains unemployed and impoverished.
Which challenges need to be addressed most urgently?
Offering appropriate education and training, responding to the demands of the modern economy and modern society, remains a major challenge.
The continent also needs to integrate economically. Create larger markets, because many of its countries are very small, and in that sense they are not economically viable. This in turn means that infrastructure, such as roads, needs to be integrated. Infrastructure is also important with regard agriculture, which employs a majority of the African population. Improved infrastructure supports agricultural and rural development.
Implementing the policies that have been agreed is also a challenge. Everybody also agrees that the continent should not continue to be overly reliant on natural resources.
You’ve got to diversify your economies.
Yes. There have been many policies to address this diversification: How it should be achieved and so on. The challenge is how to implement them. If these challenges are addressed together, they would help to take us another step forward.
Africa’s share of foreign direct investments is continuously rising. Is there a reason to be concerned about a new type of “colonialism”?
I don’t think so. The African continent has got specific formal agreements with both China and India, regulating their relations – the nature of the economic relations, education and training, infrastructure, health. These agreements avoid a replication of a colonial relationship. Because we’ve got the assets in which foreign investors are interested in, we have the power to say: ‘Fine, I recognize your interest in this asset, but you must recognize my interest. Therefore, let’s reach an agreement.’ So we are not, by any means, powerless. This is our vision of our future.
How important is the role of the financial sector in the continent’s development?
The financial sector is a very integral part of this development, with regard to the access to credit, to the possibility of attracting investments into equities, the possibilities of financing trade… One of the continent’s challenges is to further develop the financial services sector in every respect: There are only a few stock exchanges, so potential investors might not find that the market is big enough. The debt market is tiny, with only a few African countries issuing bonds. There are few financial institutions ready to insure against the risks. The further development of the financial services sector as well as proper regulation are important.
Do you see Africa specializing in certain areas over the coming years?
It’s clear that Africa has established its place in terms of natural resources and that that’s going to continue. The dependence on commodities may support our industrialization process, if the African economies diversify using the existing value chain. A mine, for instance, requires certain inputs to produce what the mine needs. A mine’s output could also be used. South Africa, for example, produces a lot of platinum. You need catalytic converter vehicles to reduce vehicle emissions. So rather than export the platinum to make catalytic converters and then export them back to us, why don’t we produce these ourselves?
Africa’s unused arable land could be irrigated and may very well help to address the world’s food security problem. Issues linked to land productivity would need to be looked at closely.
How do you see Africa evolving over the next decades?
The eradication of poverty and underdevelopment is fundamental to the future of Africa. These are big goals, big challenges. To eradicate poverty and underdevelopment, and not just alleviate it, you’ve got to do many things: develop infrastructure across the board, not only for energy and transport but also set up schools and hospitals. The health challenge on the continent is a result of the underdevelopment of the health infrastructure. Even if we were able to supply medicines cheaply, there is no adequate infrastructure in place to deliver them to the patients. Clinics and ambulances are lacking. We should persist with those goals over the next 20, 30 and 40 years. If we can achieve these, then we’ve made major, major progress.
Is an African Union, like the United States or the European Union, a long-term possibility?
There’s a majority view on the continent, among Africans, that Africa must unite. Nobody would question this perspective, this vision. The integration of the African continent is driven by this central perspective, building from below. You integrate at the regional level and then you expand from the regional to the continental. You cannot impose it from above.
This is an objective which all of Africa is very committed to pursuing, because as Africans we know that we all share a common destiny. There’s no way that any African country can achieve success standing on its own. It would require you to work with your neighbor, because whatever happens in one country impacts the other. It’s a matter of necessity to work toward this unity, because we share this common destiny.
*Source Credit Suisse
Financial, family woes of Winnie Mandela, South Africa’s ‘Mother of the Nation’
May 27, 2013 | 0 Comments
By Nkepile Mabuse*
Johannesburg (CNN) — “This shouldn’t be happening” — these were the words of a visibly nervous and frustrated sheriff of the court as he rang the outside bell and knocked at the gate belonging to a woman still considered by many in South Africa as the “mother of the nation.”
Joe Maluleke and two other officials arrived at Winnie Mandela’s house in Soweto on Tuesday to execute a court order granting a Johannesburg school permission to auction her belongings and pay an old debt. Among the goods meant to go under the hammer were 50 paintings, a round table, chairs and a silver tea set.
The problems started when the ex-wife of Nelson Mandela, the country’s first black president and an international icon, registered her great niece, Nobantu Vutela, as a boarding student at Abbotts College in Northcliff, Johannesburg, according to court papers filed in 2008.
The accommodation fees for the year were 40,000 South African rand — the equivalent of about $4,000 today. Winnie Mandela, 76, who earns an annual salary of around $90,000, as a member of parliament, was given six months to pay the full amount. It’s unclear why she and not the girl’s own parents enrolled her into the private school.
Despite the documents stipulating that R10,000 ($1000) be paid up front, lawyers representing the school say Mrs Mandela never paid a cent. They started instituting proceedings against her in October 2008. The case dragged on for five years. A lawyer acting on behalf of the school told CNN Mrs Mandela made her first payment last year but that she still owes nearly $5,000 with interest included. Mrs Mandela’s lawyer is disputing the interest amount.
With dozens of journalists surrounding him, not a single bidder in sight, and Mrs Mandela’s bodyguards stationed on the other side of the wall, Sheriff Maluleke knocked in vain. People could be seen moving around inside and outside the house, but nobody came out to let the sheriff in. At one point a car sped out of the premises using a side entrance. It is unclear who was in the car.
Maluleke was instructed by lawyers to get a locksmith and force his way into Mandela’s house, but he was understandably reluctant. At one point a spectator shouted, “Why don’t you climb over the wall?” The sheriff’s irritated retort: “And get shot at?”
The tense standoff lasted for about two hours. Maluleke left Winnie Mandela’s property empty-handed and dejected. He later admitted that the task he was expected to carry out was a difficult one. “Is it because she is the mother of the nation?” he was asked. “Exactly,” he responded.
On Monday night Winnie Mandela’s lawyer Yandisa Dudula had been frantically trying to stop the auction from going ahead.
“Mrs. Mandela has given me a check for R16,000 ($1,696), and another R4,000 ($212) has been given to the sheriff,” he told CNN. “The auction is not necessary.”
The school’s lawyers insisted on getting the money in cash, failing which, they said the sale of her goods would go ahead as planned.
Confused neighbors looked on as the spectacle at Mandela’s property unfolded.
“We thought she had money, it is very surprising that her goods are now having to be auctioned in order to recoup funds for a debt,” one of them told CNN.
When asked what it is like to live next door “the mother of the nation,” the neighbor said, “We never see her. When the old man (Nelson Mandela) lived in Soweto he would walk around, shake people’s hands, greet and talk to them, he even invited us into his home.”
“Winnie keeps to herself, but we still call her ‘mother of the nation’ and no-one wants to see her humiliated,” the neighbor said.
“Internal tensions within the family could have played a role in no one coming to Mrs Mandela’s aid,” political analyst Somadoda Fikeni told CNN. “The family is fragmented and recent squabbles over money have further emphasized these divisions.”
Two of Nelson Mandela’s daughters — Makaziwe Mandela and Zenani Dlamini — are currently embroiled in a legal battle over the former political prisoner’s money. They have filed court papers in an attempt to remove Mandela’s longtime lawyer and friend, 84-year-old George Bizos, and others as directors of companies owned by the Mandela Trust.
The children’s legal battle over their iconic father’s monies has come under heavy criticism in South Africa. Bizos told local media the lawsuit is “a ploy to resuscitate the sale of Mandela’s artworks” whose proceeds go to the companies at the center of the dispute.
Andrew Mlangeni, who was incarcerated on Robben Island with Mr Mandela, told CNN: “This is a matter that should have been resolved internally within the family.”
Makaziwe recently rebutted accusations that her intentions are motivated by greed, telling the New York Times: “This issue that we are greedy, that we are wanting this money before my dad passes away is all nonsense.”
The feud over Nelson Mandela’s millions and now the threat of an auction at his former wife’s residence underscore the contradictions and complexities in what many consider South Africa’s political “royal family.”
This is by no means Winnie Mandela’s first brush with the law, although for years many saw her as untouchable.
The former freedom fighter was implicated in the 1980s murder of 14-year-old anti-apartheid activist Stompie Seipei. Her then-husband, Nelson Mandela, stood by her, despite a mountain of damning evidence. In 1991 she was convicted of kidnapping Seipei and for being an accessory to assault, but her six-year jail term was reduced on appeal to a fine and a suspended sentence.
In 2003 Mrs Mandela was convicted for theft and fraud in connection with an elaborate bank loan scheme where the ANC party letterhead was used to obtain loans for bogus employees including her youngest daughter Zinzi. The conviction carried a jail term, but that sentence too was suspended.
A few months ago police confirmed that they have reopened the murder case of two more former freedom fighters, allegedly last seen at her house more than 20 years ago. Their bodies were exhumed in March.
In recent years, “the mother of the nation’s” influence in the country and within the ruling party has waned, and the protection she once enjoyed along with it. Last year she was voted second-last in the party’s national executive committee. She had been top of the list at the previous ANC conference in 2007.
Still, respected columnist and journalist Justice Malala says he is astonished Winnie Mandela couldn’t get help from a single one of her former comrades.
Malala told CNN: “It’s great that she was paying for her great niece’s school fees but I’m surprised that firstly she didn’t feel she could raise the money from her own salary and secondly that no-one in the ANC was willing to help her. She could have also approached the Mandela Trust. Mandela has given money to president Jacob Zuma before when he was in trouble.”
Perhaps the most astonishing part of the tale is why her children and grandchildren appear to have stood by and watched as threats of an auction became more serious.
Two of her grandchildren, Zaziwe and Swati Dlamini have recently launched a reality show in the U.S. called “Being Mandela.” They also have a clothing line named “Long Walk to Freedom” after their grandfather’s autobiography. Their mother Zenani Dlamini, Winnie’s eldest daughter, is South Africa’s ambassador to Argentina.
Despite the family’s many ventures and connections, Winnie’s lawyer says money isn’t always readily available.
Winnie Mandela has often courted controversy, but she is still adored by many in South Africa.
She endured years of torture, torment, banishment and imprisonment by the apartheid regime while fighting resolutely for racial equality in the country.
And despite her legal and financial troubles over the years, very few South Africans are celebrating her downfall. Many of them took to Twitter to express their solidarity. “We cannot forget Winnie Mandela who stood tall for three decades” wrote one person.