Angry Winnie tells ANC: Stop using Mandela family
ANC veteran Winnie Madikizela-Mandela has accused the ruling party of hurting the Mandela family, saying "We only matter when we have to be used for some agenda".
In a letter to ANC spokesman Jackson Mthembu, a livid Madikizela-Mandela said the family was "still grappling with the most shabby treatment throughout the years".
The letter, which Sowetan has seen, was in response to a request by Mthembu's office for a meeting on July 5 to discuss, among others, her travel arrangements to attend the Mandela lecture delivered by President Jacob Zuma in Thohoyandou, Limpopo.
The lecture was part of a series in honour of past ANC leaders as part of the the party's 100th anniversary celebrations.
Madikizela-Mandela snubbed the invitation.
She also rejected the request for a meeting citing a number of incidents which pointed to a frosty relationship between the Mandela family - of which she is part - and the ANC.
But Ndileka Mandela, the granddaughter of Madiba from his first marriage, delivered a message from Mandela during the lecture.
Madikizela-Mandela suggested in the letter that the ANC had not always treated the family of democratic South Africa's founding president with the requisite respect.
During the party's birthday rally in Mangaung in January, where dignitaries from all over the continent were invited, the Mandela family "did not even have a table and the situation was saved by (business woman) Bridgitte Radebe". Radebe is the wife of Justice Minister Jeff Radebe.
Madikizela-Mandela complained that she had been sidelined during the preparations of the centenary celebrations and reduced to "a spectator throughout".
"I was not deployed anywhere. I am the one person who has first (hand) information about the leaders you are celebrating. I would have given you the song that was composed for that day," she wrote.
She said in the past the ANC never had any interest in celebrating Mandela's birthday except to "gate-crush on family's arrangements".
She also criticised the manner in which the ANC, through chairperson Baleka Mbete, brought the centenary flame to Mandela in his village of Qunu in Eastern Cape in May.
"The manner in which the flame was brought to Tata (Mandela) left much to be desired. There was no parade of the soldiers as there was to me. It was clear that it was done to someone's ego not to the family," the letter reads.
Madikizela-Mandela said she was aware that Gauteng ANC leaders had brought the flame to her house in Soweto last month under protest and no one from ANC national headquarters accompanied them.
"It is clear a certain faction fought for it to be brought to me. I am aware that (Arts) Minister Paul Mashatile and comrade David Makhura fought for it to be brought to me."
Mashatile is the chairman of the ANC in Gauteng while Makhura is the provincil secretary.
She said although she had been in and out of hospital since January 25, she had not received "even one phone call from Luthuli House".
Instead Mthembu had given an interview "saying I was recuperating from an ankle operation when you did not even care what kind of an operation I had. I never had an ankle operation, I had a knee operation."
"No one has cared to establish how we are doing as a family. It is quite clear that we do not matter at all.
"We only do when we have to be used for some agenda."
Mandela and Madikizela-Mandela were divorced in 1996 but she has remained central in family matters.
ANC spokesman Jackson Mthembu said the ANC would not comment on Madikizela-Mandela's assertions.