JOHANNESBURG, South Africa, Mar 20 – Nelson Mandela’s eldest grandchild has publicly ditched the ruling African National Congress party over its damaging and seemingly endless scandals.
Nelson Mandela led the ANC from 1991 to 1997, carrying the party to an historic election victory at the end of apartheid when he became South Africa’s first black president in 1994.
“I will not be voting for something that does not resonate with me anymore, and does not resonate for what granddad and his comrades fought for,” Ndileka Mandela, 52, told the News24 website at the weekend.
Ndileka said her decision followed scandals including the death of about 100 psychiatric patients last year in a neglect crisis and a social welfare grants dispute that threatened payments to 17 million of the most vulnerable South Africans.
“It’s one scandal after the next and there’s no accountability. And our people suffer for it,” she said.
“I am highly upset. And this is not a decision that has been made out of anger. I’ve been thinking about it for a while,” she said.
“It’s so painful, it’s like wrenching my heart out of my soul.”
Her pronouncement forced her cousin Mandla Mandela, an ANC lawmaker, to make a public plea for her not to turn her back on the party.
– ‘Abandoning the ANC’ –
“Please do not throw the baby out with the bathwater,” Mandla said in an open letter.
“What we are dissatisfied within the ANC, it is our obligation to set right. Abandoning the ANC does not serve the people of South Africa.”
South Africa’s highest court last year found President Jacob Zuma, the current ANC chief, guilty of violating the constitution after he refused to repay taxpayers’ money used to refurbish his private rural house.
He is also fighting a court order that could reinstate almost 800 corruption charges against him over a multi-billion dollar arms deal in the 1990s.
Increasing numbers of anti-apartheid veterans, ANC activists, trade unions, civil groups and business leaders have called for the president to resign.
In August last year, the party recorded its worst-ever election results at local polls but remained the largest party by a wide margin.
South Africa is scheduled to hold its next general election in 2019.
Mandela, who died in 2013, had three wives, six children and 17 grandchildren.
He joined the ANC in 1944 before it was banned under apartheid from 1960 to 1990. He was jailed from 1964 until 1991.