Nelson Mandela’s ex-wife says former president made bad deal for blacks
JOHANNESBURG — Nelson Mandela’s former wife has bitterly criticized the 92-year-old antiapartheid icon as having “let us down,’’ prompting outrage yesterday in South Africa.
Winnie Madikizela-Mandela said she could not forgive her former husband for accepting the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993 alongside South Africa’s president, F.W. De Klerk, according to Tuesday’s Evening Standard, a British newspaper. De Klerk released Mandela from prison and went on to participate in negotiations that ended apartheid.
“He agreed to a bad deal for the blacks,’’ Madikizela-Mandela was quoted as saying. “Economically, we are still on the outside. The economy is very much ‘white.’ It has a few token blacks, but so many who gave their life in the struggle have died unrewarded.’’
The Star newspaper in Johannesburg accused Madikizela-Mandela of unleashing a rant.
Mandela is revered by blacks and whites in South Africa but is not above criticism. The most common complaints are that he devoted too much time during his presidency to seeking reconciliation with whites and too little to uplifting blacks mired in poverty.
After a series of scandals over violence and fraud, Madikizela-Mandela also has regained prominence in the governing African National Congress, where she is embraced by young members impatient with the pace of change since apartheid ended in 1994.
After internal party voting, she was high on the ANC’s list of candidates in last year’s elections, and sits in parliament.
In the interview, Madikizela-Mandela is quoted accusing the current ANC leadership of exploiting Mandela’s image while sidelining him as a leader. She also accuses his foundations of using him to raise money.
Mandela is largely retired now, with several foundations carrying out his work. In February, Madikizela-Mandela called the foundations “a lasting tribute to his legacy.’’
The Standard article also quotes Madikizela-Mandela as criticizing South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which was an attempt to address the horrors of apartheid without pursuing retribution. In the interview, she calls its leader, Nobel Peace laureate Desmond Tutu, a “cretin.’’ Tutu, through his office, refused to comment yesterday.