Former president Thabo Mbeki. Picture: ANA

Durban - Former president Thabo Mbeki this week denied a Sunday Tribune report in which he called on government to take action against Zindzi Mandela-Hlongwane, South Africa’s ambassador to Denmark, for labelling white people as beneficiaries of stolen land via Twitter.

He labelled the Sunday Tribune headline false in a statement released on Monday by the Thabo Mbeki Foundation and in reference to the story cautioned members of the public to "beware methods of mobilisation by means of false, emotive narratives and caricatures of derogation"

Today, the Sunday Tribune will release the 13 minute section of the full interview online where he shares his views on the Mandela-Hlongwane Tweet saga.

While the former statesman admits that he was "not up to date" on the issues surrounding Mandela-Hlongwane tweet he did offer an opinion how ambassadors should conduct themselves.

This after he said in the foundation statement this week that: "His reply was that he had not read the tweet. President Mbeki, however, explained the discipline and culture of the diplomatic world in which, as representatives of the president of the Republic and broadly the government, ambassadors and high commissioners represent official government policy; not their views and opinions".

Former President Thabo Mbeki in his own words on the storm around Zindzi Mandela-Hlongwane's Tweet on the land debate. Video: Oliver Meth.

The Thabo Mbeki Foundation continued: "This is so in part because the system of government, as indeed the fabric of foreign policy, would be seriously imperilled were officials to express their personal views as and when they see fit. This has absolutely nothing to do with Ambassador Mandela’s views or her right to hold her views." 

The Foundation said Mbeki had explained that prior to taking action, if such action was contemplated, the president or government would have to consider Mandela-Hlongwane's comments relative to the positions of government on the land question. 

"At no point did he call for any action to be taken against Ambassador Mandela. This is borne out by everything the journalist quoted from President Mbeki," said the Foundation.
"We would like to caution members of the public to beware methods of mobilisation by means of false, emotive narratives and caricatures of derogation. Such methods do not in the least advance public understanding of vital political and public policy matters. To the contrary, they whip up a frenzy which serves the interests of the system we need to transform for the benefit of our people as a whole."

Sunday Tribune