Johannesburg - Winnie Madikizela-Mandela has declared Makaziwe as the official head of the Mandela family, further adding to suggestions that the family is at war.
In a statement on Wednesday, Winnie said that, in accordance with customary law and tradition, Makaziwe, as the eldest daughter, would head the family and make decisions with the support of her two younger sisters, Zenani and Zindzi.
About Mandla, she said: “There is no misunderstanding, or debate. Mr Mandla Mandela is respected as one of Nelson Mandela’s grandchildren, the next generation of the Mandela family.”
The statement comes after media reports that the family was at war with itself.
Allegations are that Mandla was pushed out of the family homestead in Qunu, that locks were changed at the estate, and water and lights were cut.
Makaziwe is also alleged to have told him to remove his livestock from the homestead.
Winnie said the reports had done nothing but use half-truths to cast a shadow on the Mandela family during their time of bereavement.
She did not elaborate on the Makaziwe issue, and her spokesman, Thato Mmereki, said she would not.
“The statement she made is a once-off. She is disappointed in the media and had to come out of mourning to set the record straight. She was not even supposed to be speaking to the media,” Mmereki said.
Mandla also refused to speak to the media.
“He does not want to be drawn into this. With regard to the statement that Makaziwe will head the family, you must talk to her (Winnie) about that. Mandla said he just wants to focus on maintaining, promoting and upholding the legacy of Madiba,” his spokesman Freddy Pilusa said.
In July, Mandla accused Makaziwe of having “sown division and destruction” in the Mandela family. He also said she should focus on the family she was married into instead of trying to control what happens in the Mandela family.
“She is in actual fact Mrs Amuah and ought to be focusing on the Amuah family. As my aunt, her role within Makgatho’s family is supposed to be that of a unifier and reconciler, but so far she has sown division and destruction in that family,” Mandla said at the time.
Chief Ngangomhlaba Matanzima and United Democratic Movement leader Bantu Holomisa, who both spoke at the funeral, said they did not know when the decision to name Makaziwe as head of the family had been taken.
“I can’t speak to you about that. I was not part of the meeting (when that decision was taken). Rather speak to the person who sent that statement, because I was not there. My task was to speak at the funeral, and it is done,” Holomisa said.
Matanzima said this was a decision for the family to take and that he normally took the lead from Mandla. He had also not been aware of this.
“I don’t understand the purpose nor the rationale of this decision, but I’ve never been consulted on this and can’t say whether it’s right or wrong.”
A Xhosa culture expert, Prince Zanengoma Makaula, of Mount Frere, Eastern Cape, said it was Mandla who should be the head of the family as Makaziwe was married and traditionally didn’t belong to the Mandela family anymore.
“As the first grandson, Mandla is the head,” he said.