'Let Zindzi Mandela be,' pleads Duarte in personal note

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Zindzi Mandela. (Loanna Hoffmann)
Zindzi Mandela. (Loanna Hoffmann)

Zindzi Mandela cannot be vilified for speaking her mind after what she and her family experienced at the hands of white people during apartheid, says Jessie Duarte. 

"There has been an expectation since 1994 that, as the generations of adults and children who lived through the awful years of apartheid, we would simply forget it all…" wrote Duarte. 

The ANC deputy secretary-general's statement was issued by a private communications company, and was marked as being in her personal capacity. 

Duarte wrote it was unreasonable to expect the ambassador to Denmark to forget that her father, Nelson Mandela, was "ripped away" from her family for 27 years, or that her mother, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, was harassed for years. 

She noted that Mandela only really saw her father when she was 16.

READ: Zindzi Mandela takes aim at 'Apartheid apologists' as #OurLand trends

"Each incident that was negative in the lives of the childhood of Zindzi Mandela involved white South Africans," continued Duarte. "She is a dedicated South African, giving her best service as an ambassador. She cannot be vilified for speaking her mind, especially not on the land question." 

Duarte's statement comes after AfriForum laid a complaint about Mandela's tweets on land, and her retorts to detractors hashtagged OurLand.

Duarte said Mandela's words were harsh, and jolted many who thought the issue of land restitution would go away.

But Duarte noted that the ANC had decided to see through the process of land redistribution without compensation, and that changing the Constitution was the best route to achieve this. 

'Zindzi Mandela is not the problem'

She felt that although Mandela was "rebuked" by International Relations and Cooperation Minister Naledi Pandor, she should not be expected to "join the chorus of neo-liberals who simply want us to forget what has shaped the narrative for transformation in our country". 

"We can only achieve non-racialism when we let go of the pretences and speak plainly about what must change. Our voices may speak out in anger, but we cannot pretend that all is well now."

In Duarte's opinion, AfriForum was "actively pursuing a racist agenda".  

"We suffer economically because a progressive narrative that talks to radically transforming our economy on the basis of a structural imbalance that is designed to exclude black people in general but specifically African people and black women, opens the real issue of what apartheid was: a system of capitalism deeply inspired by slavery, control of a cheap labour force and ownership of everything of true value by a minority.

"The expectation is that we allow this system to continue unhindered, because it is said disturbing ownership of the minority will kill our already limping economy. But inclusion and creativity will spread the growth we need. More people who become employers will create more jobs.

"It is time to allow facts to define our growth narrative, not shallow truths. We need more farmers and farmers need land.

"So let Zindzi Mandela be. She is not the enemy of our country nor the architect of land dispossession, nor is she holding back the growth of our economy," said Duarte.

"Before the haters say this, allow me: Corruption is negative, it is inspired by greed, but tainting everyone as corrupt through the joining of dots does not make people corrupt. We need courage now to stomp out the corrupt practices in the tender processes, and in the price-fixing processes. We need to stomp out the networks that are indeed pervasive.

"Zindzi Mandela is not the problem. AfriForum is a threat to any hope we have for truly forming a non-racial, non-sexist, united and democratic South Africa.

"Too many of us are silenced because of the labels we are given. Labels that are convenient to silence facts. Dots are not truths."

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