Man­dela im­passe

Fam­ily yet to open Madiba’s grave to pub­lic

Daily Dispatch - - FRONT PAGE - LU­LAMILE FENI MTHATHA BUREAU CHIEF lu­lamilef@dis­patch.co.za

With the world set to cel­e­brate for­mer President Nel­son Man­dela’s cen­te­nary birthday next week, there has been no progress in de­cid­ing on open­ing the grave to the pub­lic.

Many, in­clud­ing some gov­ern­ment lead­ers, be­lieve this would boost tourism in the OR Tambo re­gion as many would de­scend on Mthatha to view Madiba’s grave in Qunu.

Man­dela’s el­dest grand­son, Nkosi Mandla Zwe­liv­elile Man­dela, the head of the Man­dela chief­dom in Mvezo, said it could not be the de­ci­sion of only the fam­ily.

“Madiba be­longs to the global com­mu­nity, so in con­tex­tu­al­is­ing this the fam­ily, the ANC – his po­lit­i­cal home – and the South African gov­ern­ment need to come to­gether in find­ing a so­lu­tion around this mat­ter.”

Mandla would not say whether the fam­ily was in favour of the grave site be­ing opened to the pub­lic or not.

He said the dis­cus­sion would have been held, had president Cyril Ramaphosa vis­ited Qunu as an­nounced dur­ing the ANC’s Jan­uary 8 state­ment.

“But with re­gret, that was never re­alised,” said Mandla.

“Madiba con­tin­ues to be the only ANC president that the ANC top six has not been to, to lay wreaths at his place of rest.

“Nev­er­the­less, we re­main hope­ful that this will be done dur­ing his cen­te­nary, and also that the dis­cus­sion on open­ing the grave for pub­lic view­ing will be started so that there is dialogue be­tween th­ese three en­ti­ties – fam­ily, ANC and the South African gov­ern­ment.”

The Man­dela fam­ily have now erected a new tomb­stone on the grave. It was pri­vately un­veiled on March 25.

Man­dela’s ex-wife Win­nie Madik­izela-Man­dela, who died on April 2, did not at­tend the in­ti­mate cer­e­mony.

The un­veil­ing was so safely guarded that some Man­de­las in Qunu were un­aware of it.

Man­dela’s old­est daugh­ter, Dr Makaziwe Man­dela-Amou, would not com­ment when con­tacted by the Dis­patch.

Other Madiba clan mem­bers, like Nkosi Ngan­gomh­laba Matanz­ima and AbaThembu act­ing King Azenathi Dalindyebo, as well as the ANC in the prov­ince and the pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment, were un­aware of the un­veil­ing.

But Mvezo, Qunu and Mqhekezweni res­i­dents felt they had been side­lined by the Man­de­las. “We can­not have a world icon who on his death is re­duced to be only for the Man­de­las,” said ANC branch mem­ber and Qunu res­i­dent Nt­siza­kalo Mthimde.

Qunu tra­di­tional leader Nkosikazi Nok­wanele Bal­izulu was also un­aware of the cer­e­mony. But those who have seen the tomb­stone say it is beau­ti­ful and be­fit­ting for a man of Madiba’s stature.

The grave site was un­der construction when Ramaphosa led the ANC visit to Qunu on Jan­uary 11 and met with Mandla, but he did not lay wreaths.

Mandla and ANC sec­re­tary­gen­eral Ace Ma­gashule told the me­dia at the time that the wreath lay­ing would be done on Fe­bru­ary 11, the day mark­ing Man­dela’s re­lease from prison. But ANC lead­ers marked the day at the Grand Pa­rade in Cape Town.

Madiba be­longs to all. He was our hero and will ever re­main our hero

Pic­ture: IVOR MARKMAN

FINE WORK: NMU fine art stu­dent Lo­gan Ra­m­age works care­fully on his draw­ing of Nel­son Man­dela. Three NMU students were at Bay­west Mall yes­ter­day af­ter­noon to cre­ate chalk draw­ings in honour of Madiba's birthday next week.

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