SA’s ambassador to Denmark, Zindzi Mandela, described a 2001 incident in which former president Thabo Mbeki pushed Winnie Madikizela-Mandela away as she tried to embrace him at a rally in Soweto as part of the late struggle icon’s #MeToo story.
The #MeToo movement sees women globally speaking out against abuse at the hands of men, and started in 2017 when allegations of US movie producer Harvey Weinstein’s serial sexual abuse of women began to go viral. This inspired many women to come forward with stories of abuse from the past.
Zindzi posted a 2001 interview from IOL on Twitter over the weekend in which former president Thabo Mbeki gave his reasons for the altercation.
“Mama was not well, in bed on this day,” she tweeted, after sharing the link.
“Despite this, she felt that it was important for her to attend the rally as her absence would be misunderstood, Orlando Stadium being in the area where she lived. Mama’s #MeToo story will be told,” she added.
In the IOL interview, Mbeki justified pushing Madikizela-Mandela, saying she had arrived late and disrupted proceedings, marching onto stage uninvited after the “brushing aside” of a protocol officer.
Mbeki said Madikizela-Mandela’s behaviour was inappropriate, particularly since according to the former president, it was a “government occasion” rather than an ANC function.
“Now, I don’t approve and I’m not going to approve of behaviour that shows complete disrespect for anything and everything,” Mbeki said. “It’s not right.”
In a story in Sunday Tribune over the weekend, it was reported that Mbeki had called for action to be taken against Zindzi, should her tweets on land be found to be contradicting President Cyril Ramaphosa’s stance.
In reaction to this, Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) leader Julius Malema accused Mbeki of an ongoing “assault of the Winnie Mandela household”.
“What was wrong with him just saying he has no knowledge of what Zinzi Mandela said? He could not say this because the Winnie Mandela household must always be put to its place: a place of docility,” Malema said.
This followed an EFF statement criticising Mbeki written by party spokesperson Dr Mbuyiseni Ndlozi.
Following the passing of Madikizela-Mandela, Mbeki caused outrage after saying in a television interview on the life of the late anti-apartheid struggle icon that she never listened to ANC leaders and disobeyed an order to disband her controversial Mandela United Football Club — notorious for necklacing people suspected to be police informers in the 1980s.
He said the anti-apartheid struggle icon was a “courageous activist” even though “she did wrong things”.