Analysis  >  Friday Briefing: Is reconciliation dead?

LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 05: Zindzi Mandela att


Is reconciliation dead?

When President Cyril Ramaphosa finished his third State of the Nation Address on Thursday night, he quoted Nigerian poet and novelist Ben Okri: "You can’t remake the world / Without remaking yourself / Each new era begins within.

"It was inspiring words from an address that's been described by critics as a "SONA of dreams" and indeed the president seemed energised when talking about his bold vision for the future, complete with a new Smart City and bullet trains driven by a capable, developmental state.

But Okri's words are also instructive in a time when South Africans are increasingly at each other's throats as illustrated again the past week in the fallout of South African Ambassador to Denmark Zindzi Mandela's controversial tweets about "white people" and land. Many lambasted her for being racist while even more came to her defence.

In light of these events, we ask, "Is reconciliation dead?" In the Friday Briefing this week former human rights commissioner Leon Wessels writes that the concept we used to guide us into a democratic South Africa is certainly outlived, while firebrand EFF MP Naledi Chirwa argues that it was always based on a false premise. ANC stalwart Mavuso Msimang takes Zindzi Mandela to task for disregarding the Constitution and calls on public officials to act in the interest of cohesion. 


Alet Janse van Rensburg

News24 Opinions Editor

LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 05: Zindzi Mandela att

Reconciliation as we know it is overworked

Leon Wessels

Although we want to settle the past, there can be no future without an understanding of the past. The sulky and finely formulated apologies of the past did not always impress and often fell well short – they are noted now as chances that had been trifled away. What our fellow countrymen had longed for (then) was an admission that apartheid had scorched our land, that we are aware of it and that we want to join in building a better future together, as equal partners.

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LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 05: Zindzi Mandela att

Zindzi Mandela is no victim. She can and should do better

Mavuso Msimang

It is somewhat puzzling that some of the people who endorse Zindzi Mandela's tweets are members of the ANC and EFF, both organisations that profess to embrace the principles of both the Freedom Charter and the Constitution of South Africa. When Zindzi Mandela refers to "white cowards and shivering land thieves" as a collective, she is indulging in hate speech, namely, using "abusive or threatening speech or writing that expresses prejudice against a particular group, especially on the basis of race, religion or sexual orientation".

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Naledi Chirwa

 White people, two decades into supposed freedom, still believe that our struggle heroes owe the narrative of their legacies to their myopic and shallow opinions and not actual liberation and emancipation of black people. In less than 24 hours, Zindzi Mandela was able to paint an accurate picture of what South Africa looks like; an unequal society built on the dispossession of black people's land that depends on the silencing of black rage to cushion faded white conscience. 

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