19 December 2013

South Africa: Madikizela-Mandela Lambasts Media

Johannesburg — Struggle stalwart Winnie Madikizela-Mandela expressed disappointment on Wednesday evening at the media's interference with the matters of the Mandela family, her spokesman said.

"Furthermore, she rebukes unambiguously the attitude of the media towards the Mandela family, their mischievous innuendoes and newsroom slugs designed to disgrace the family through their apartheid-style Stratcom tactics," Thato Mmereki said in a statement.

"Numerous articles, op-eds, reports and editorials in outlets such as The Citizen, The Times, The Sunday Tribune and The Star have hammered on the idea that the Mandela family is at war with itself since the news first broke that Madiba is no longer with us."

Madikizela-Mandela said these reports had done nothing but use half-truths to cast a shadow on the Mandela family during their time of bereavement.

Madikizela-Mandela is the former wife of global icon Nelson Mandela, who died on December 5 in his Houghton home in Johannesburg. Mandela was buried in Qunu in the Eastern Cape on Sunday.

Dissolute media outlets were last to prescribe "family behaviour" to the Mandelas, Madikizela-Mandela said.

"This recent pattern is all the more worrisome in light of certain editors' decision to negatively use the Mandela name on the front pages of their newspapers to draw revenue," Mmereki said.

"Mrs Madikizela-Mandela has a wonderful relationship with the media and has been accessible to the media at all times. There is no reason for this furtive and invasive behaviour."

Madikizela-Mandela requested that all media running these "discourteous media commentaries" refrain from doing so, and she placed it on the record that there was no succession or dynasty debate in the Mandela Family.

Mandela was survived by his three daughters Makaziwe Mandela, Zenani Dlamini-Mandela and Zindziswa Mandela and in accordance with customary law and tradition the eldest daughter, Makaziwe Mandela, would head the family and would make decisions with the support of her two sisters.

"To this end there is no misunderstanding, or debate. Mr Mandla Mandela is respected as one of Nelson Mandela's grandchildren, the next generation of the Mandela family," Mmereki said.

"Mrs Madikizela-Mandela and the family thank Ms Makaziwe Mandela for the leadership qualities and strength of character that she has demonstrated."

Madikizela-Mandela said now was not the time for the media to debate relevant questions about the Mandela family's historical role, their legacy and fate, the morality of their actions and the meaning of information they chose to disclose.

The family was mourning the loss of the former statesman and should be afforded time and space, she said.

"Madikizela-Mandela thanks the nation for messages of comfort and support and requests that her family's time of mourning be respected," Mmereki said.

The Times reported on Tuesday that locks at the Mandela Qunu homestead were changed days after he died and that Mandla was locked out.

According to the report, Mandla's found his home on the Mandela estate without electricity and water on the day of his grandfather's burial.

Makaziwe Mandela ordered the locks to be changed after she arrived while Mandla was keeping vigil next to his grandfather's coffin while the anti-apartheid icon's body lay in state at the Union Buildings in Pretoria for three days, the newspaper said.

Approached for comment on the report on Wednesday, Mandla Mandela's spokesman, Freddy Pilusa, told The Associated Press: "He (Mandla) doesn't want to confirm nor deny the report. He wants to focus on promoting and upholding the legacy of his grandfather going forward."

Mandla and Makaziwe have reportedly been involved in a bitter public spat over the control of Mandela's legacy and leadership of the fractured family.

A further outbreak of hostilities was expected over Mandela's will, the contents of which had not been made public, AP reported on Wednesday.

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