Article ignores the facts

2010-09-25 12:39

In her article headlined Mandela ching-ching, Khadija Bradlow misses an opportunity to write a serious, analytical piece on the challenges inherent in “managing’’ Nelson Mandela’s office and protecting his intellectual property.

A simple telephone call to us would have helped her understand many of the events she disingenuously misconstrues to create the impression that the Nelson Mandela Foundation willingly “sells” time and photo opportunities in return for money.

Let us deal with those events on a factual basis:

»? Charles Taylor was a visiting head of state (like or loathe him, that’s what he was) and that is in essence why Mandela met him in 1997.

But this was two years before the Nelson Mandela Foundation was established.

Can we therefore be retrospectively held responsible for something that happened when we did not even exist?

»? Mandela also met “Barney the Dinosaur” in that same year.

In any case, how can anyone read anything sinister into Madiba meeting a cartoon character tasked with entertaining South African children?

»? Sassou Nguesso visited South Africa while Mandela was president – again, that was before the foundation’s existence.

Mandela made remarks at a state banquet probably in an attempt to facilitate peace talks in Congo-Brazzaville and neighbouring states.

The fact remains that Mandela never authorised his remarks to be used as a foreword to a book by Nguesso years later, and we said so publicly.

»? The Ismail Ayob/Ross Calder saga.

An unresolved legal dispute has been raging for years, with many allegations made and being challenged.

Yet Bradlow feels free to bandy about astronomic monetary figures that have allegedly benefited Mandela’s family.

Again, would a telephone call to Mandela’s attorney not have helped verify these wild speculations?

»? Former Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra met Mandela through a member of his family.

Nelson Mandela Foundation staff were not present at the meeting, but we do know that it lasted 10 minutes.

To our knowledge, no business was discussed at all.

It is important to put these facts into perspective in order to categorically rebut the central theme of Bradlow’s speculations.

I can say with absolute certainty that the Nelson Mandela Foundation did not receive one cent from any of the people she mentions in her article.

The Nelson Mandela Foundation, in line with a code of conduct that it signed in 2007, does not accept donations in return for arranging a meeting, a handshake or a photo opportunity with Mandela.

Finally, it is important that the public understands the extent of, and limitations to, the Nelson Mandela Foundation’s mandate.

Madiba has asked us to prevent the commercialisation of his name and image.

Given the ambiguity of the laws that govern the intellectual property of a person with such a high public profile, this is a difficult and costly task that we perform to the best of our ability.

It must, however, be noted that the Nelson Mandela Foundation does not have any authority, legal or otherwise, over Mandela’s family.

His children and grandchildren are free to visit him, and to arrange visits by others for him, as and when they see fit.

It would be truly arrogant of us to attempt to prescribe to a member of the Mandela family how she or he uses the family name and who the Mandelas should or should not associate with.
 

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