Cape Town – Former president Nelson Mandela’s granddaughter, Ndileka Mandela, on Friday sharply criticised President Jacob Zuma, saying she became uncomfortable with the ANC government when she started her Thembekile Mandela Foundation in 2014.
Mandela was speaking on Doha-based news broadcaster Al Jazeera’s Upfront actuality show.
“When we are confronted with the level of abject poverty [when the foundation started work], of children studying in schools that are falling apart in the Eastern Cape, of children with no ablution facilities, of children who miss school when they are menstruating because of a lack of sanitary wear… it is in contrast to what is happening within government,” Mandela said.
“I will make an example of something that happened recently, R8 million was spent on [Zuma’s] birthday party… that R8 million could’ve built classrooms for schools that are falling apart.”
City Press reported that R8m was allegedly spent on Zuma’s birthday celebrations, but the number could not be verified.
Mandela said Zuma should step down “if the people are calling for that”.
She reiterated her call for Zuma to show accountability for the government’s faults.
“If you look at any corporate environment, if things are not working, if the wheels of a corporate environment are not working, the person to take responsibility and accountability is the person leading that organisation,” Mandela said.
“It is the same with government, the person that is accountable to take accountability on what is happening in government is the president, in any administration.”
Mandela called on the ANC leadership to return to the “basic tenants of the Freedom Charter”.
“The Freedom Charter that says that the people shall have schools, the people shall have land and they shall have education and they shall have health,” she said.
Mandela was, however, weary of comparing the ANC to the apartheid government.
“Well it would be unfair to compare them to the apartheid government, but there certain things they could do certainly much much better and they are not doing,” Mandela said.
Asked if the issues the country is facing is as a result of Nelson Mandela’s legacy, Mandela defended her grandfather’s actions.
“I would like to say to … people, can they share with me what strategies would they employ were they confronted with the same things that granddad and his comrades were confronted with back in the day,” Mandela said.
“If you would remember… there was a bloodbath and we were on the verge of a civil war, what could they have done to make things better?”