Mandela battle: Mandla vs Makaziwe

2013-06-30 17:28
Mandla Mandela (Picture: Sapa)

Mandla Mandela (Picture: Sapa)

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Johannesburg - Aunt and nephew are pitted against each other in the high-stakes battle for leadership of the fractured Mandela family, City Press reports.

On one side is the former president’s 38-year-old grandson Mandla Mandela, the chief of Mvezo, and on the other his formidable 59-year-old aunt Makaziwe.

That there appears to be no love lost between them was glaringly illustrated this week by the family’s appointment of Mandla’s nemesis, Wesley Hayes, as their lawyer.

Hayes - Mandla's first wife’s attorney who has heaped shame and embarrassment on the young chief in reams of papers supporting numerous court applications throughout his bitter five-year divorce battle - represented the family in their bid to have the remains of three of former president Nelson Mandela's children returned to Qunu.

On Friday, City Press broke the news of how the family went to battle in the Mthatha High Court to have the remains of the deceased children Thembekile, Makaziwe and Mandla’s father Makgatho exhumed from their graves in Mvezo and reinterred in Qunu.

Judge Lusindiso Pakade granted their request.

Mandla had their remains moved to Mvezo in 2011 and the family demanded their return, believing that Mandela was being made to suffer by the ancestors because of the actions of his grandson.


On Tuesday night, senior Mandela family elders visited the Qunu family graveyard to plead for forgiveness from their ancestors, after an "emotional and tense" family meeting.

On one side was Makaziwe, accompanied by her close friend, Public Service and Administration Minister Lindiwe Sisulu.

On the other was an isolated Mandla - with the entire family taking him to task for moving the graves. After the meeting, Mandla did not go to the family graveyard with the others but drove off instead in the direction of Mvezo.

Makaziwe, or Maki as she is affectionately known, was described by a family friend this week as a “petulant peacock”.

She wields a lot of influence in the family and vetoes many decisions.

Close family friends, who spoke on condition of anonymity, say that as the first daughter of Mandela’s first marriage, AbaThembu culture dictates that she preside over family meetings and be the one to make announcements.

"Since she is the eldest child of Mandela, she is known as 'umafungwashe' [the one by whom we swear]. Umafungwashe has to be consulted, even if she is married. There is no major decision they can take without her," the insider said.

"Mandla is the heir apparent, and he does take some decisions sometimes, but it has to be the eldest daughter who takes the decision."

As Mandela's eldest male descendent and the chief of Mvezo, Mandla is supposed to be the head of the family.

But word in the villages about 40km from Mthatha is that Mandla's childlessness is a further sign of the ancestors' displeasure with him.


His marriage to Tando Mabunu-Mandela disintegrated amid allegations of abuse.

She also succeeded in having half of the more than R5m in his bank account frozen, including her share of the gift of R3m his grandfather gave him.

A source close to the family, opposed to Mandla's actions, said: "You cannot disturb people who are resting peacefully in their graves and expect no repercussions from the ancestors.

"Once ancestors turn their backs on you, you will have bad luck, struggle to find children, jobs or things like that," insisted the source.

"What is happening to Mandla shows that the ancestors are unhappy with the way he has carried himself."

Read more on:    nelson mandela  |  mandla mandela  |  makaziwe mandela  |  lindiwe sisulu  |  culture

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