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Ndileka‚ eldest granddaughter of the late former president and freedom struggle icon Nelson Mandela‚ announced this week that she would no longer vote for the ANC‚ citing the social grants crisis and Life Esidimeni tragedy as the tipping points.
She told News24 that the two national crises had caused her to lose faith in the party.
“This is how I feel. I am highly upset. And this is not a decision that has been made out of anger. I’ve been thinking about it for a while‚ and it’s been a build-up‚” she was quoted as saying.
“But the tipping point has been Life Esidimeni and the Sassa scenario.”
Ndileka Mandela‚ a nurse by profession‚ is the oldest of the third generation Mandelas.
In an open letter on Saturday‚ her brother Mandla‚ who is an ANC MP and chief of the Mvezo Traditional Council‚ said he had read of her “heart-wrenching decision with empathy and understanding”.
“I am sure this was not an easy step for you to take as the ANC has been the heartbeat of our family for many years. One can only imagine the many crises and challenges our grandfather uTatomkhulu Nelson Rolihlala Mandela lived through since joining the ANC in 1944.
“uNkosi Dalibhunga demonstrated that the way to resolve conflict was through engagement and perseverance – not turning one’s back. The ANC does not belong to any individual or grouping and it is our collective duty to set our house in order‚” he wrote to Ndlikeka.
He said he was saddened‚ as she was‚ by events that led to the loss of life in the Esidimeni tragedy‚ adding that in the true spirit of “our struggle‚ proud family history and responsibility towards our nation”‚ there must be accountability for such gross neglect and dereliction of duty.
The ANC‚ he added‚ had correctly expressed sympathy with the families of the deceased and called for appropriate action to be taken.
“It is indeed a blight on a proud record of providing primary health care to millions over the past two decades of democracy. The preventable loss of just one life is one too many and we must ensure that pressure is brought to bear so that the innocent lives lost were not lost in vain. Nobody is above reproach‚” Mandla stated.
The facts of the social grants crisis were a matter of public record and must and would receive the attention it required‚ he said.
“I can understand that you are upset at what we have been reading in the public space. However‚ I want to assure you that the grants will be paid to the nearly 17 million recipients. That‚ in itself‚ is a great achievement of our democracy and in no small measure to the credit of the ANC.
“In addition‚ I want to bring it to your attention that the instruments introduced by the ANC government to deal with such crises remain vigorously intact. We have a functioning cabinet‚ organs of state and judiciary and nobody is above the law. Again‚ uTatomkhulu demonstrated his willingness to subject himself to this legal process in his lifetime‚” Mandla wrote.
He added: “I call on you Mafungwashe wasekhaya to reconsider your decision. Please do not throw the baby out with the bathwater. What we are dissatisfied with in the ANC it is our obligation to set right. Abandoning the ANC does not serve the people of South Africa; it only serves to weaken the ranks of those who want to restore our beloved organisation to the pride of place it deserves‚ and to strengthen the hands of those for whom democracy is anathema. The prophets of doom — they who yearn for the apartheid days of yesteryear and the perpetuation of social‚ economic and political supremacy‚ who have no loyalty to our struggle — will rejoice in finding a new voice and feeding off the negative publicity that is generated.
“My plea to you‚ Sis’ Ndindi‚ is to be part of the effort to breathe new life into the ANC and re-inculcate the values and principles that secured our democracy. We are reminded of the wisdom of Comrade Ahmed Kathrada when he said in December 2016: ‘We are heartened that from within the ranks of our movement there are leaders like Madiba‚ with credibility‚ accountability‚ commitment to the people of SA and foresight. They are leaders who‚ like Mandela‚ are ahead of their times. Such leaders are able to rejuvenate and modernise the ANC so that it can meet the needs of the 21st century‚ while still valuing its old and wise traditions. Such leaders have been unafraid to put their positions to the test.’
“It is my hope that you‚ my sister‚ will be remembered not for turning away when the house was on fire but for following the advice of our wise elder and helping to rejuvenate and modernise our political home‚ the ANC.”