Johannesburg - Former president Thabo Mbeki has called for action to be taken against Zindzi Mandela-Hlongwane, the country’s ambassador to Denmark.
Mbeki said the government should assess Mandela-Hlongwane’s tweets on the land debate and if they were found to be inconsistent with what President Cyril Ramaphosa was saying on the issue, action should be taken against her.
He spoke to the Sunday Tribune in Durban, where he attended a Unisa graduation ceremony at the Inkosi Albert Luthuli International Conference Centre.
Mbeki admitted he was not up to date with the outcomes of the saga, but cautioned that no ambassador should represent their own views.
“There’s no ambassador who represents themselves and if Zindzi Mandela’s tweets are inconsistent with what the president is saying, then that cannot be allowed. The president I know, has been very insistent on this, that land reform must be done on a constitutional and legal basis and such amendments of the constitution are to clarify the circumstance in which you would expropriate land without compensation,” he said.
Mbeki said Ramaphosa has not been communicating any views that would result in unnecessary conflict.
“He’s been saying this is a necessary task and I think South Africans have agreed in the manner he has outlined it and that’s the message that any ambassador must communicate,” he said.
Mbeki emphasised that the process of land reform had to be done legally and fairly within the confines of the constitution.
One of Mandela-Hlongwane’s tweets said: “Dear apartheid apologists, your time is over. You will not rule again. We do not fear you. Finally. Land is ours.”
She posted a series of tweets last weekend on the land issue which resulted in widespread discussion and debate.
The DA and the Freedom Front Plus called for her removal, while some members within the ANC ranks, including KwaZulu-Natal Premier Sihle Zikalala, and the EFF supported her views.
ANC veteran Mavuso Msimang, labelled the support “somewhat puzzling” in an opinion piece published in the Independent on Saturday.
Msimang said both the EFF and the ANC were organisations that claimed to embrace the principles of both the Freedom Charter and the constitution.
He said: “When Zindzi Mandela refers to white cowards and shivering land thieves, she’s indulging in hate speech and the use of abusive writing that expresses prejudice against a particular group, especially on the basis of race, religion or sexual orientation.”
International Relations and Co-operation Minister Dr Naledi Pandor told Mandela-Hlongwane to conduct herself as a diplomat and to adhere to government’s social media policy.
Recently, Ramaphosa received a report on land reform from a panel appointed more than a year ago.
It was chaired by Deputy President David Mabuza.
A parliamentary committee on land expropriation did not finish its work before May’s general elections. As a result, a new committee is likely to be appointed to continue with the work.
The last committee was chaired by Thoko Didiza.
However, she was recently appointed to the Cabinet as the minister of agriculture, land reform and rural development.
The ANC recently announced that ANC MP Mathole Motshekga would chair the new committee on land reform.
Meanwhile, Mbeki also spoke about the high unemployment rate. He said more focus should be placed on technical colleges which would provide young people with skills that would make them employable.
“We need to refashion our communication around higher education and say to young people you actually have two choices - university or technical college and they must decide what they want to study, that would make them employable. We cannot be producing more graduates that become unemployable,” he said.