Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, the ex-wife of Nelson Mandela, has accused the ruling ANC party of neglecting the Mandela family and abusing its name, according to a letter cited by local media on Wednesday.
“No one has cared to establish how we are doing as a family. It is quite clear we do not matter at all. We only do when we have to be used for some agenda,” said Madikizela-Mandela in a letter to the party’s spokesman Jackson Mthembu.
The letter was published by the Sowetan and the Times newspapers.
She wrote it in response to an invitation to a meeting to discuss plans for her to attend a Nelson Mandela lecture that was held on Tuesday. She did not attend the lecture which was addressed by President Jacob Zuma. She picked on the party’s failure to follow standard protocol at its centenary celebrations in January, saying they could not even reserve a table for the family, at an event attended by foreign heads of states.
A member of the ruling African National Congress party’s national executive committee, she complained of being sidelined from the centenary preparations and being relegated to a “spectator”. An ANC spokesman refused to comment on the letter. Madikizela-Mandela was married to ex-president Nelson Mandela from 1957 to 1996. She tirelessly campaigned for his release during his 27-year imprisonment under apartheid.
The family, she said is
“still grappling with the most shabby treatment throughout the years. We are deeply hurt as a family.
She also complained about the manner a symbolic centenary flame was handed to Mandela recently saying it “left much to be desired”.
While her image was tarnished by a series of scandals, including her links to the kidnap and murder of a young activist and a 2003 fraud conviction, she remains an influential figure as a lawmaker. Madikizela-Mandela, 75, suffers from diabetes and has in recent months been hospitalised for a foot operation, and separately for a wrist surgery.