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'We cannot pretend all is well': Jessie Duarte backs Zindzi Mandela on land

Jessie Duarte came to Zindzi Mandela's defense.
Jessie Duarte came to Zindzi Mandela's defense.
Image: Muntu Vilakazi

Land redistribution without compensation is a policy of the ruling party and South Africans need to "stop pretending and speak plainly about what must change," says Jessie Duarte, in a spirited defence of Zindzi Mandela.

On June 14 Mandela, currently SA's ambassador to Denmark, created a stir on social media after her "apartheid apologists" and "land thieves" tweets went viral.

A complaint was lodged with the SA Human Rights Commission by AfriForum, which accuses her of demonstrating "a hate-bearing attitude towards white people" and contributing to racial polarisation.

“Let Zindzi Mandela be," Duarte retaliated in a statement issued on Wednesday evening.

The ANC deputy secretary-general said her statement was issued in her personal capacity.

Referring to the structural imbalance created under apartheid and the need to forge ahead with black economic empowerment, Duarte commented: "...It is said disturbing ownership of the minority will kill our already limping economy. But inclusion and creativity will spread the growth we need. More people who become employers will create more jobs."

"We need more farmers and farmers need land. So let Zindzi Mandela be. She is not the enemy of our country nor the architect of land dispossession, nor is she holding back the growth of our economy..."

"The ANC, of which I am a member, has made a decision to see through the process of land redistribution without compensation. The ANC has also agreed that the process of changing the constitution to make this possible is the route best suited to achieve what must happen," said Duarte.

South Africans could not forget the legacy of apartheid, said Duarte.

"There has been an expectation since 1994 that, as the generations of adults and children who lived through the awful years of apartheid, we would simply forget it all..."

It was unreasonable to expect Zindzi Mandela in particular to forget that "her father was ripped away from their family for 27 years and she only really set eyes on him at the age of 16".

Equally, she should not be expected to forget the years of harassment experienced by her mother Winnie Madikizela-Mandela.

"Each incident that was negative in the lives of the childhood of Zindzi Mandela involved white South Africans.

"She cannot be vilified for speaking her mind, especially not on the land question.

"Granted, her words were harsh and the context of their meaning jolted many who would pretend that the issue of land restitution in our country is mere rhetoric that will go away," said Duarte.

However, Zindzi Mandela "cannot and should not be expected to join the chorus of neo-liberals who simply want us to forget what has shaped the narrative for transformation in our country".

"We can only achieve non-racialism when we let go of the pretences and speak plainly about what must change. Our voices may speak out in anger, but we cannot pretend that all is well now."

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