Footage of a 2001 incident which saw Thabo Mbeki – who was president of South Africa at the time – pushing late struggle icon Madikizela-Mandela, has resurfaced after an unverified Twitter account calling itself “EFF Jozi Ground Forces” shared a video clip on the platform.
In the clip, presumably of the same footage of the incident that was televised at the time, a smiling Madikizela-Mandela can be seen approaching the president, who responds by pushing her head away.
Madikizela-Mandela’s daughter Zindzi Mandela-Hlongwane on Monday morning shared a link to a 2001 IOL article on the incident, in which Mbeki gives his reasons at the time for why he pushed the late “mother of the nation”, alleging that the incident forms part of her mother’s #MeToo moment.
“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.”
Another article from 2001, on News24, tracks responses to the incident at the time.
Tony Leon, leader of the Democratic Alliance (DA) back then, said Mbeki’s behaviour was embarrassing and a poor example to the South African youth.
“No woman deserves to be humiliated and harassed in public in the way Madikizela-Mandela was by Mbeki,” he said.
— EFFJoziGroundForces (@Effgroundforces) June 23, 2019
Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) spokesperson Dr Mbuyiseni Ndlozi did not respond to messages asking if the account which shared the clip was officially affiliated to the EFF.
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 Ndlozi, slamming the former president for his “aloof” reaction and his alleged failure to deal with South Africa’s land question while in charge of South Africa.