Things Fall Apart: Mandela’s Sad Legacy of Successors

The late South African leader's family members and President Jacob Zuma have been tainted by scandals and impropriety

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Lerato Maduna / Gallo Images / Getty Images

South African President Jacob Zuma at the opening of the new headquarters of the Congress of South African Trade Unions in Johannesburg on Feb. 29, 2012

On the edge of the village of Mvezo in South Africa’s Eastern Cape, on the spur of a hill looking out over a bend in the Mbashe River, there used to be a simple open-sided museum with four plaques inscribed with passages. One was about growing up inspired by the elders’ war stories. Another about how “1,000 slights, 1,000 indignities and 1,000 unremembered moments” had produced a slow awakening of rebellious anger in the author. The third was about being prepared to die for the idea of racial equality. The fourth was about how the road to freedom is long. When I visited Nelson Mandela’s birthplace in 2009, it was a place of simple beauty that inspired contemplation and reflection of an extraordinary, exemplary life.

Today, it is a wreck. The tin roof hangs loose and some of the inscriptions have been broken or removed, while a rank smell indicates goats use what remains of it as a shed. A few hundred meters away, there is a monstrous thatched construction big enough to be a hotel. When I last visited, the villagers of Mvezo said that a hotel, in fact, had been the original purpose of the construction. It was built, they said, by Nelson Mandela’s grandson Mandla for the same reason that Mandla had allowed the small museum to fall into ruin and for the same reason that he had unearthed the bones of three of Mandela’s children — two daughters and a son — and reburied them close by: to make Mandela’s birthplace into a lucrative attraction.

In July a court ordered Mandla to return to the bones to his family so they could be reburied outside Mandela’s home in Qunu, an hour’s drive away. Why was the family squabbling over the bones of Mandela’s children? Because Mandela had requested to be buried next to them. Whoever had the bones could profit from the tourists Mandela’s grave is expected to attract.

Mandla was once doted on by Mandela, and hailed by the former South African President when he reclaimed the family’s place in the ruling Thembu clan, part of the larger Xhosa people. When Mandela was a boy, after a dispute with the ruling British colonial authorities, his father was deposed from his chiefdom, an injury that, as Mandela writes in his autobiography, A Long Walk to Freedom, awakened in him a “proud rebelliousness, a stubborn sense of fairness.”

But Mandla’s erection of a giant building with running water and central heating on the edge of a village where his neighbors — and subjects — live in grass-roofed huts, cook over open fires and walk to the river for water is indicative of how unlike his grandfather the new chief is. That contrast encapsulates the disappointment South Africans feel about all of Mandela’s successors, whether in his family or his party, the African National Congress (ANC). “We have, in a way, lost our way,” said Jay Naidoo, a former antiapartheid activist and one of Mandela’s cabinet ministers, as he remembered Mandela on Saturday. “I feel we could be much further today if we had the same morality as Madiba. In our country today there is a lot of anger that democracy is not more meaningful … that it’s all about the self-interest of leaders. And I think the next generation is right to be angry.”

Much of that anger is directed at President Jacob Zuma. The days leading up to Mandela’s death were dominated by the latest scandal to engulf South Africa’s fourth President: a public prosecutor’s report that he spent $20 million in state funds to massively expand his private residence outside Durban from 11 buildings to more than 90, and to construct a giant swimming pool. Zuma has also faced consistent allegations of corruption — one of his advisers was jailed for passing on bribes to him — and in 2005 he was also accused, though later acquitted, of rape.

Zuma is only the most prominent of a host of ANC leaders at all levels to face accusations of impropriety. Last year the independent Council for the Advancement of the South African Constitution said one-fifth of South Africa’s annual GDP — an astonishing $81.6 billion — was being lost to corruption and crime. At times, there is little to distinguish the politicians from gangsters. Close to 60 ANC politicians have been murdered in the past five years, often in disputes over state resources. On Saturday, mourners lay flowers outside Victor Verster Prison in the Cape Winelands, in front of a statue of Mandela punching the air as he had in the same spot on his release after 27 years in jail in February of 1990. “I’m afraid now that old man is gone,” said Dambile Ntlomo, 31. “That guy was not about the money. Zuma and the others — they’re all about the money. And if things go bad — maybe people even start fighting — that Zuma will do nothing.”

When it comes to younger Mandelas, however, South Africans feel more ashamed than angry. Mandela’s former wife Winnie, who once tried to open a burger restaurant called Mandela’s, was convicted of 43 counts of fraud and 25 of theft in 2003. She is also haunted by the murder 25 years ago of two men last seen being beaten at her house in Soweto: their bodies were unearthed for re-examination in March.

For the past two years, meanwhile, South Africans have been watching the behavior of other members of the Mandela family through their fingers. One of Mandela’s daughters, Zindzi, is often in the newspaper for throwing lavish parties. Two others, Makaziwe Mandela and Zenani Dlamini, sued his lawyer, George Bizos, in April in an attempt to force him to release a family trust. A Mandela son-in-law has been charged with rape. A grandson, along with a nephew of Zuma’s, was implicated in a deal that saw a gold mine asset-stripped while its 3,000 workers were unpaid. Two granddaughters, Zaziwe Dlamini-Manaway and Swati Dlamini, also have their own reality TV show, Being Mandela, South Africa’s answer to Keeping Up With the Kardashians. This never-ending family saga might even intrude on South Africa’s week of mourning leading up to Mandela’s burial in Qunu on Dec. 15. On Dec. 12, Mandla is due in court in nearby Mthatha on an assault charge.

“I don’t think there will be another guy like Mandela,” said Jonny Banza, another mourner outside Victor Verster. “That guy brought everyone together. We need to be all together. These other Mandelas — who say they love Mandela — they must think about what Mandela said about being together as South Africans. If you are not together, you fall apart.”

Related content:
The Indispensable Man: Nelson Mandela (1918–2013)
A Tribute to Nelson Mandela by Pulitzer Winner David Turnley
Nelson Mandela: An Indispensable Life in Pictures
The Best Nelson Mandela Covers From Around The World

80 comments
Zincstop.
Zincstop.

zuma is just a stooge and a pawn. Don't forget the rest of hidden crooks. The 80 plus anc executive...

They are all involved. Not one of them questioned Inkandla and many of the thousands of crooked activities of the current anc government. They were all involved in the many cover-ups and lies. Lies, lies and spin. Always attacking the people who expose and try to prosecute their entrenched crooked and devious positions. Disband the Scorpions, discredit the Public Protector, manipulate the legal system at vast taxpayers expense to evade prosecution....

Changing the front man won't make difference. Kick the whole lot out. Put a complete new government in place and jail the current one. Every last one of the crooks should be prosecuted and all their ill-begotten loot confiscated and channeled back into helping the poor and disadvantaged for which the taxes were rightly intended to help in the first place. 

Vote for a completely new government. Boo the whole lot of the existing anc looters every time they stand up on stage to publicly address us. We are sick and tired of their corruption, arrogance, lack of accountability, irresponsibility, plundering, looting, criminal activities, lack of performance, waste of state resources and lies. 

Any opposition is going to be better than this current degenerate anc. We have seen the best that anc has had to offer. It's time for new blood. 

Vote anything but anc next year.


Joseph Shonga
Joseph Shonga

As South Africans you have a lot challenges, but are you going to discuss and deal with them rationally? If not, what Mandela stood for is lost!

JohnKovacich
JohnKovacich

wow a corrupt african leader!!! what a shock!! thank god I was sitting down when I read this!!

Vickie Perez
Vickie Perez

Now is not the time to report this negativity

Chantel Venter
Chantel Venter

You should refer to the Drakenstein Correctional Centre, formerly known as Victor Verster. This article breaks my heart, as we all had such high hopes and aspirations for those taking over Madiba's legacy, but the poor are being left behind and frustrated by poor service delivery.

Ray Akhalwaya
Ray Akhalwaya

What counts in life is not the mere fact that we have lived. It is what difference we have made to the lives of others that will determine the significance of the life we lead.” — Nelson Mandela Hamba kahle Madiba.

Aaron Block
Aaron Block

Yes I did, but you did not want to argue you wanted to accuse. You seem now willing to argue which I am more than willing to do. Where don't I make sense? And in fact you are wrong. To a degree I would agree with you. However where we differ is I choose to see how far we have come, whereas you choose to concentrate on how far we still have to go. Which I agree, is a very long way.

Aaron Block
Aaron Block

That's a good point - the difference between the two. Do you mean in South Africa or in the world that they are never oppressed or discriminated? I find it hard to accept that only white people have systematic power. Being that the past 3 presidents, governments and political parties have been by majority non-white? Also I agree that many people merely say "I am not racist" but do nothing about the current inequalities that exist. However I don't believe that those inequalities will be beaten by one race or one people. Racism breeds more racism. It will not be overcome by non-white people storming the figurative white people Castle. It will be overcome by the efforts of both non-whites and whites working together to storm the figurative Castle of all those that are still racist. Working together to create equality and destroy what keeps the divisions and to rectify the past. Creating deeper divisions will not help. Just as when Mandela was released and became president. By all accounts it would have been fair to create some identical form of Apartheid against white people and to destroy things such as Rugby. But he didn't. He wore a Rugby Jersey and went to support the 'white man's game'. Which shocked South Africa and the world. And he strived for equality not revenge. That is why he is celebrated and has left the legacy he has. He did things to create a better world, not a revengeful one. Which agreed, by all accounts would have been fair.

Samora Machel Thamsanqa
Samora Machel Thamsanqa

Btw, didn't you say you were done 'arguing' with you? I'm gonna go first- quiet frankly, you don't make sense and you're dishonest about the current status of SA. I'm 100% sure you wouldn't agree with the fact that - the average black South African today is economically worse off in relation to white South Africans than during apartheid.

Samora Machel Thamsanqa
Samora Machel Thamsanqa

Dude! White people are never oppressed for being white. There is a difference between oppression and discrimination. Discrimination is systematic. Not all people will experience discrimination. It's not a luck factor- it's society's method for keeping some people silenced and lower intentionally. White people have systematic power, Black people do not. You need to realize that hiding behind the "I'm not a racist!" line is not enough. Understanding oppression, discrimination, and modern day racism is the only way we will ever be able to create a new system that doesn't intentionally degrade certain demographics of people.

Aaron Block
Aaron Block

Please also note which one of us is using the words 'us', 'them' and making accusations. Inherently racist haha, that statement reminds me of a time and people whom believed such traits were attributed to race. I believe if you were to go back to the Apartheid era, and look down. You may find that your hands would have be white. Good day

Aaron Block
Aaron Block

No offence but you are incapable of an argument. If you just want to throw around accusations feel free to go ahead. I could argue and show you how almost every statement in your previous post is in fact wrong but what I have seen so far is you are not open for change or to listen, merely to accuse where in fact you have no right (in the case of my past). So feel free to continue. Maybe shout really loudly to vent your frustrations. But in the end you'll realise that you and no one else is making your life really Lonely and just sad. And if it's just about getting the last word in, merely reply a character. Then you still "win"

Samora Machel Thamsanqa
Samora Machel Thamsanqa

You see why I say you people are inherently racists?What anger? When I tell you our Black issues- then I'm angry. Wow! You want me to believe you and accept your version of South Africa. That's not going to happen... I know my own story, my people's story and factual history far better than you do. Take a seat and be quiet.

Samora Machel Thamsanqa
Samora Machel Thamsanqa

Hahaha! Its either you are dishonest, stupid or you know nothing about South Africa and the current useless corrupt leadership! The world knows that Zuma has 2 kids outside the wedlock(with S'bu Ndebele and Irvine Khoza's daughters) - the world knows that Zuma stole +R248 million to build himself a compound, the world knows that Zuma's children, his brothers, nephew are millionaires through corrupt business deals masterminded by him. The world also knows that Zuma is a rapist and a fraudster. If you were not ignorant, you would know that we live in the information age- there's all these social networks, huge corporate news agencies, smart phones etc... Trying to sell SA with lies doesn't help the country's image- Zuma is poison to the country, he has no plan, no vision, has nothing to offer but more lies. But I guess, with clowns like you who don't have capacity to think critical - you don't see anything. So, I expect no change in the leadership. Keep well stupid clown.

Aaron Block
Aaron Block

Samora Machel Thamsanqa that's true you would know more about my life than I would. My bad. Anyway I won't comment further. You are obviously are just emotional and looking for an argument. When showed respect, you show anger. When shown facts, you call "liar". You Might want to see someone about that. All I can really say is I feel really sorry for you, it really is a dark and sad world you live in. P.S. feel free to look into what I have said. From my brothers who were given Xhosa names by Mandela himself to the records kept at the university. You probably wouldn't believe it, it is truth and a white family doing good after all.

Samora Machel Thamsanqa
Samora Machel Thamsanqa

You are a liar and a racist - what do you mean by "vaguely" qualified?? ! In corporate SA Blacks are nothing but mere BEE window dressers- I work there I know that we're oppressed by racist pretentious whites who some of them don't even have university education. I don't believe u were born in soweto- stop lying. I know SA and Wits were you studied! Rugby SA & cricket SA have never accepted transformation just like corporate SA. As for calling me a racist, well that's funny considering the fact your race brought racism here and they have never changed at all. Your hero Mandela's "Reconciliation" didn't help Black people - it helped the oppressor more than the oppressed. It helps the white racists 2 get over their guilt by carefully handing out a few benefits to Blacks(that's why there are few sellouts like Ramaphosa, Tokyo - who became overnight billionaires) making sure, they are never fully equal. You think I'm stupid or fooled by your race's crocodile smiles- you whites will never change. Smh

Aaron Block
Aaron Block

Samora Machel Thamsanqa the only racist one really seems to be you. As for soccer how many feet actually touch the field during the matches. As for Rugby do I really need to name the amazing non white talent South Africa has. And for both Rugby and cricket do some research into exactly how many development programs are out there to correct that. As for corporate South Africa you obviously have no idea on the challenges facing a white person with even the highest education. Compared to giving the job to a different person who might not be vaguely qualified which actually just hurts the economy as a whole and wins for no one. I think your problem may be that when you look for racism you will find it and that is true anywhere in the world. And on that note before you start introducing 'us' and 'them' terminology let me tell you a bit about my background. I was born and was brought up in Soweto for almost every day of my childhood. Through the struggles and the riots my mother was one of the only white people who remained working as a lecturer at the university there which was a risk on her life everyday. But she continued as she believed that education was necessary to fight Apartheid which she was very active in. As for myself, I went to a government school for 90% of my life. And I did not see race it was never a problem. So after reading that if you still want to call me 'one of them' and believe all whites are the same and as you say 'will never understand' I believe your problems lie a lot deeper than you may realise.

Luzuko Taleni
Luzuko Taleni

South Africa is amazing in many ways.I'm looking at it with a positive eye,hope for a brighter future after going through a dark time. President Zuma might have been involved in many cases,but just like everyone he is not perfect.He is not a womanizer as you claim he is.It's his culture to have morethan one wife.(Zulu culture).If you were a true proudly South African Samora Machel Thamsanqa you wouldn't be questioning the culture of the Zulu nation.I myself as a Xhosa man understand and respect African cultures regardless of the complex. There is a lot that needs to be done in terms of development.Not even tata u Madiba managed to fixed everything,but he did manage to unite us all in one shelter.And it's going to take a very long time to get everything right.Racism and other matters you 've mentioned are a world wide epidemic issues.We all have challenges.But what is important is to hold hands and work together as one for the betterness of our country.Respect our leaders. Keep the spirit and vision of tata u Madiba alive. Mayibuye i Africa =Bring back Africa.

JohnAvignone
JohnAvignone

Nice job, you stupid bleeps. What's next, the legacy of failure after Lincoln? Well done on trolling the worst of the worst of our racist stupid bleepholes, Time. Could you possibly suck any more?

eagle11772
eagle11772

Nelson Mandela, and his wife Winnie Mandela, are both murderers.  Too many people conveniently don't mention this TRUTH.

seeseebutler
seeseebutler

Where ever blacks assume power of a modern western society previously run by people of European descent, things become corrupt and turn to s**t: South Africa, Detroit, Zimbabwe....

Cephas Garauzive Muridzo
Cephas Garauzive Muridzo

Another Mandela doesn't necessarily have to rise from the Mandela family or the ANC. He was a father to all and any one child from our amazing diversity could emerge and follow Tata's footsteps. One who can unify and put us all together with one goal of freedom for all

Kenneth Beck
Kenneth Beck

La Grace de Dieu ,piss on the article, have you read the biography... don't 'cherry-pick' the facts... he was a tyrant,murder and rapist...

Paul Stevens
Paul Stevens

No one was talking about him when he was alive! why now? tired of about him

Elaine N Lala
Elaine N Lala

Gandhi's teachings of pacifism helped reshape Mandela's political views and the man that left prison was no longer a young man consumed by hate, but a man with a mission to unify people for the greater good of all. The violence and intimidation of apartheid are what Mr. Mandela seeks to wring out of South African society. During the more than quarter century that Mandela was jailed, his freedom became synonymous with the freedom of his country. "If you want to make peace with your enemy, you have to work with your enemy. Then he becomes your partner." Mandela : "Our men are armed and trained freedom fighters not terrorists" I am honoured to have lived in the same time as this incredible man.

Derek Lea
Derek Lea

How extremely sad and disappointing that these bunch of idiots and failures learnt so little from such a wonderful man. Surely, you would think that with their constant contact with Nelson that something/anything would have rubbed off but NO, they are too ignorant and steeped in corruption that they don't feel a thing for the people around them. Grabbing and greedy thats all. Pam Lea.

La Grace de Dieu
La Grace de Dieu

What have you done for your country? You need to read the article before you comment!!!

HelenMudge
HelenMudge

I disagree with you Vickie.  Now is exactly the right time to discuss what is going on here in South Africa.  Our president, Jacob Zuma, and the Mandela clan, are a disgrace to South Africa and to Nelson Mandela's legacy. This reality needs to come out and be aired 

DavidHollenshead
DavidHollenshead

"this negativity" broke Nelson Mandela's heart. I have no idea how horrible it would be to discover that that your wife had a teenager killed, or that she liked this vw van so much she had her bodyguards kill it's driver, clean it up, and replace the shot out windows, so she could be driven around in it.

Unfortunately while Nelson Mandela was in prison, his wife and some of his kids were becoming monsters. Part of remembering a person is remembering their life, and all their experiences.

AnneNaylordeRauville
AnneNaylordeRauville

You Aaron haven't a clue on SA. Whites are having Apartheid applied against them in all forms across the whole spectrum. These are too numerous to mention. So much so that over 1 and a half million white South Africans have left their homeland to seek life elsewhere. This loss has devastated SA. South Africa used to be the 21st biggest economy in the world at the end of Apartheid even after all the boycotts, sanctions and embargos, SA is now 28th in the world with everyone wanting to help them. That to me is economic freefall.

aztecian
aztecian

south africans need to own and control the farm lands so they can control their destiny.  they need to remove the colonist and get back to having a basic life, nomadic, free and autonomous...secured from western media and the colonist corporations.  

T1Brit
T1Brit

Did you read the article???   The state of South Africa is being looted to destruction by the ANC and it's cronies, yet you are still blabbing on about racism.

XonMeerKat
XonMeerKat

Which is why I moved to Brazil: no-one calls me "you people", tells me "sit down and be quiet", tells me I stole what I worked hard for. Honestly  I feel sorry for those who can only blame whites for everyhting.

aztecian
aztecian

do you really want the western colonist making judgement???  it is the media which makes zuma look bad.  imagine how hard it must be leading a country out of oppression.  when do the oppressive farmers give back the land to the people so they can make their own crops???

JohnAvignone
JohnAvignone

@seeseebutler Have you always been a painfully stupid POS or did you suffer a severe closed head trauma that rendered you a subliterate pig of a human?

aztecian
aztecian

where do you get that from?  more like the other way around.  remember the oppression and who did what to who?  you have a lot to learn.

JohnAvignone
JohnAvignone

@JohnNagel The floorboards squeek and out come the...

Racist stupid bleepholes.

Nice job, Time. You should be so proud! In some alternate universe of infinite stupid. FYI, Time, many publications employ someone known as an "editor," whose function is to prevent asinine troll crapola like this from being published. You might want to look into it.

T1Brit
T1Brit

Yeah right because that worked out so well in Zimbabwe. No famine there.

aztecian
aztecian

that is not true.  it is an article not based on fact, written by an outsider.  do you believe everything the western corporate colonist media puts out???

aztecian
aztecian

winnie for president and head of the anc!

JohnNagel
JohnNagel

@JohnAvignone @JohnNagel Every word is true, I was an eyewitness to Obama organized crime activity, i am not racist, i was Obama supporter u idiiot, i am doing this for you, basic human rights are at stake

aztecian
aztecian

no, the cause was oppression by white people.

JohnNagel
JohnNagel

@JohnAvignone There is not a racist word in this piece. As noted, my family played a part in the Underground Railroad and I am proud of this. Note the Putin himself has said that Russia is releasing psychotronic weaponry.