Ambassador's race-based tweet causes a storm
Zindzi Mandela, SA ambassador to Denmark and daughter of Nelson Mandela, set Twitter ablaze with a series of fiery tweets about ‘white cowards and shivering land thieves’. Within hours, #ZindziMandela was trending, with more than 13 000 tweets responding to hers with either outrage or praise on the contentious land issue, according to a report in The Sunday Independent.
‘Whilst I wine and dine here... wondering how the land of shivering land thieves is doing #Ourland,’ read one of Mandela’s tweets.
AfriForum labelled her tweets ‘racist and divisive’, and called on Minister of International Relations and Co-operation Naledi Pandor to recall and fire Mandela.
AfriForum accused Mandela of ‘contributing to a dangerous discourse of scapegoating’ in a public arena.
The president of the Black First Land First party, Andile Mngxitama, applauded Mandela, saying his party backed her statements.
‘She is absolutely correct in characterising white people as land thieves and also as cowards who hide behind stolen identities on social media,’ he said.
Department spokesperson Clayson Monyela said he had been unable to contact Mandela to verify the authenticity of the tweets, and could not comment officially until he had spoken to her.
The tweets that have angered AfriForum and others include: ‘Dear Apartheid Apologists, your time is over. You will not rule again. We do not fear you. Finally #TheLandIsOurs,’ and ‘They are cowards. You know those uninvited visitors who don't want to leave.’
AfriForum deputy CEO Alana Bailey believes Mandela's tweets ‘displayed a rancorous attitude’ towards white South Africans, and that they add to the ‘division of local communities’ and are unconstitutional, notes a TimesLIVE report.
‘With false allegations and demeaning terms such as 'cowards' and 'land thieves', she is contributing to a dangerous discourse of scapegoating. Her defence that she is entitled to a personal opinion, shows a complete lack of insight into her responsibility in her position as ambassador,’ Bailey said.
‘The question therefore is whose interests she represents and how much work will be required to manage the relationship and reputation damage that she has now caused by these tweets.’
Meanwhile, Mandela cannot be reached.
Monyela said he has been unsuccessful in his attempts to get hold of her. He said he needed to get hold of her to verify whether she was the one who was tweeting because it could be a hijacked account, notes a News24 report.
‘I need to first check with her whether, number one, this is her account because it is not verified. Two, whether she is the one who has been tweeting, and three, whether she stands by those tweets, if it is her who has been tweeting,’ he said. Monyela said once all those elements have been verified and established, the department’s social media policy will be applied and the matter will be taken forward. He had, however, been told that she was travelling and would continue to try to get hold of her.
Meanwhile, the FF Plus is insisting government takes action against Mandela for her ‘racist and divisive’ tweets.
‘Ms Mandela apparently does not see the irony of the fact that she is launching an attack on white people in her own country from a successful Eurocentric country by disparaging them as "land thieves and apartheid apologists" who are like "those uninvited visitors who don't want to leave",’ FF Plus leader Pieter Groenewald said.
Groenewald said Mandela owes all South Africans an apology and that making such statements outside of SA’s borders did not indemnify her against accountability. Mandela’s defence that she made them in her personal capacity doesn’t hold water, he argued.
‘Any statement made by a high-profile government official on a social media platform for all the world to see cannot be labelled private,’ he said.
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