Naledi Pandor on Zindzi Mandela: 'I expect diplomatic conduct'

21 June 2019 - 12:07 By Unathi Nkanjeni
International relations and co-operation minister Naledi Pandor has reprimanded Zindzi Mandela.
International relations and co-operation minister Naledi Pandor has reprimanded Zindzi Mandela.
Image: Sunday Times / Simphiwe Nkwali

International relations and co-operation minister Naledi Pandor has reprimanded SA's ambassador to Denmark, Zindzi Mandela, following her controversial tweets.

In an interview on Radio 702, Pandor said Mandela told her she had been under "extreme provocation and degradation'' regarding comments about her mother.

On June 14, Mandela created a stir on social media after her "apartheid apologists" and "land thieves" tweets went viral. 

Mandela was heavily criticised for her potentially "divisive" comments. The DA and AfriForum called for her to be recalled, while the EFF defended her.

Pandor said she spoke to Mandela, who confirmed the tweets were hers.

"She reported to me that she'd had weeks of what she termed extreme provocation and degradation through various comments about her parents, particularly Mrs [Winnie] Mandela ... and the former president, [Nelson] Mandela.

"I informed her that she is a diplomat and I expect diplomatic conduct from her, and that she should adhere to the social policy guiding how public servants should utilise social media," said Pandor.

"We agreed that she must constrain herself and focus on stating government policy, because she, as our representative, should be advancing the policy goals of South Africa," said Pandor.

On the matter of land, Pandor said no one could call Mandela into question.

"We are committed to addressing equality of access to land. So on the matter of land ownership changing, you can't argue against that. However, once you begin, as an ambassador, to be personal and to refer to individuals in a way that could be construed as personal, you then cross the line.

"Therefore, I said to her she must ensure that she recalls at all times that she's a representative of the president and of South Africa in Denmark, and must conduct herself in terms of that," Pandor said.

In Pandor's defence, Mandela took to Twitter to correct social media users who suggested Pandor was "bullying" her.

This after a Daily Maverick headline read: "Naledi Pandor slaps down Zindzi Mandela for undiplomatic and personally insulting tweets."

Mandela said she didn't regard Pandor's actions as bullying.

"I don't regard it as bullying at all and have known the minister for many years as one of the most genuine supporters of my mother when it wasn't popular to be one. In our discussion she was sympathetic and solution-specific," she said.


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