‘Greed drives the family’

2018-07-22 10:02
Rabia Clarke Mandela, her husband chief Mandla Mandela and their son Mntwanenkosi Mandela Ikraam Mandela at the opening of the new Nosekeni Nongaphi Mandela Clinic in Mvezo. PHOTO: Lubabalo Ngcukana

Rabia Clarke Mandela, her husband chief Mandla Mandela and their son Mntwanenkosi Mandela Ikraam Mandela at the opening of the new Nosekeni Nongaphi Mandela Clinic in Mvezo. PHOTO: Lubabalo Ngcukana

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A senior abaThembu traditional leader has accused the Mandela family of being driven by selfish personal interests and greed to cash in on Madiba’s name, rather than serving people in the same way the global icon did.

Mfundo Mtirara, also a clan nephew of Nelson Mandela, blamed this for divisions in the family, saying it was disappointing to see it torn apart.

“Madiba taught the family about unity. I don’t doubt that. The challenge is personal interests and greed. There are no fundamental differences among them. They are being used by businesspeople to cash in on Madiba’s legacy. Madiba taught them everything. They know the culture.

“It is unfortunate for them to play with the Mandela name and brand. They allow the name to be dragged into the mud, including playing into the hands of the media. We feel sorry for them and for Madiba.”

Mtirara said Madiba was not to blame for his imprisonment. He said family members could not use the excuse that he was not there for them because he had done everything to empower them.

“There is no point in them fighting all the time. They don’t respect each other. Madiba was everything to us. And we were everything to him.”

Mtirara said he thought “time would heal the family” and that five years after his death they would reconcile, but it seems they are “not near that”. He said clan elders felt powerless to intervene because they had less money and power than the family.

The family’s divisions, he said, were affecting the entire abaThembu nation. He said people believed the opening of Madiba’s grave to the public for the first time this year, as part of his centenary celebrations, would boost tourism and bring much- needed jobs.

“But because of their selfishness and greed that is not going to happen in the near future,” he said.

Mtirara said the abaThembu were fortunate to count a global icon such as Mandela as one of their own, and “it was a rare privilege that we should always cherish and uphold in high esteem”. Madiba, he said, should be remembered for his spirit of reconciliation.

Both Mandla and Ndaba Mandela, Madiba’s eldest grandsons, could not be reached this week to respond to Mtirara’s comments.

On Wednesday, divisions within the Mandela family were visible for all to see during the main celebrations in the statesman’s birthplace, Mvezo.

Mvezo chief Mandla Mandela was the only prominent family member to attend, with wives Rabia Clarke and Mbalenhle Makhathini, and his mother, Nolusapho. Most family members attended the memorial lecture delivered by former US president Barack Obama the previous day.

Mandla did not attend the lecture because he was at Mthatha Airport welcoming dignitaries.

The Mandela family snubbed the Mvezo proceedings despite an impressive guest list and attendance by President Cyril Ramaphosa and former presidents Jacob Zuma and Kgalema Motlanthe. Also present was former Kenyan president Raila Odinga.

The usually quiet village sprang to life, and Ramaphosa opened its first clinic, the Nosekeni Nongaphi Mandela Clinic, named after Madiba’s mother.

Speaking during celebrations, Mandla said it was a special day for him and the people of Mvezo.

“On the day of my coronation as chief of Mvezo, this is what my grandfather, the great soul, had to say: ‘That my grandson has taken the chieftaincy I was supposed to have, that he is to rule here at Mvezo, will make me sleep forever a happy man in my grave.’ Your coming to Mvezo is to honour the man, his legacy and his vision and make him sleep forever a happy man in his grave.

“As rightful heir to his legacy we seek to work with all who pursue the vision he set before us. As a nation he led us from the precipice of racial hatred and brink of civil war to work together for the realisation of the goal of nation-building, national reconciliation and social cohesion. We remain dedicated to its fulfilment and to devote our lives to its realisation and achievement.”

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