Mandla Mandela (second from left) shakes hands with Justice Minister Jeff Radebe at oHlange High School in Inanda on Tuesday, while KZN Premier Senzo Mchunu (second from right) looks on.

Durban -

Justice Minister Jeff Radebe has downplayed suggestions of a “rise of tribalism” in the government, saying the claims are “unfounded”.

This could be seen as a shot in former president Thabo Mbeki’s direction after his comments during an address at Unisa last month, when Mbeki reportedly told the audience tribalism was used as a tool by politicians to “manipulate” some and reward others.

The problem was rampant in the government, he said.

Radebe took a swipe at this notion – without mentioning Mbeki – in his keynote address during a Dr Langalibalele Dube memorial lecture titled “Dube and Mandela Redefining African Leadership”, at oHlange High School in Inanda on Tuesday.

The inaugural lecture is in commemoration of February 11, the day founding ANC president Dr Langalibalele Dube died. It also coincides with the date on which Nelson Mandela was released from prison.

Radebe said: “If the organisers of this lecture were oblivious to it, let me again thank them for conflating the lives and histories of one proud Zulu in the name of Langalibalele Dube, and a proud Tembu, Rolihlahla Mandela, as a perfect response to the current concerns, which in my view are unfounded, about the rise of tribalism.

“By juxtaposing the two giants of our struggle, the artificial boundaries presented by the Mtamvuna River, and the concerns of those who feel we are recoiling to tribalism are being answered through a demonstration of our desire as the ANC to bury the demon of tribalism and ethnicity as Isaka kaSeme implored our founding fathers in 1912…”

He said it was important to note the matter was “an ongoing challenge worldwide”.

Mandla Mandela, accompanied by his mother, Nolusapho, and Mandela’s nephew Zwelithambile, spoke for the Mandela family, while Langa Dube, Langalibalele’s grandson, represented the Dube family.

President Jacob Zuma’s wife Bongi maNgema-Zuma was also present.

Mandla said February 11 was of great significance to both families. The date imparted a “rich heritage” as the day his grandfather was released from prison.

He thanked citizens for their support for Madiba while he was in hospital and their outpouring of love upon his death.

“The baton has not only been handed over to the descendants, it has been handed to ordinary citizens who my grandfather said were heroes and heroines who sacrificed more than he did,” he said.

KwaZulu-Natal Premier Senzo Mchunu called for a search of the IEC’s 1994 election archives to “possibly” find Mandela’s ballot paper.

“I know they say ‘your vote is your secret’. Your vote is your secret – to an extent,” he said. “It’s not so much about who Nelson Mandela voted for. It’s about seeing the actual paper on which he cast his vote,” he said.

Mandela voted at oHlange High School, which was founded by Dube.

The Mercury