Zindzi Mandela defends Naledi Pandor after chat over land storm

International relations and co-operation minister Naledi Pandor seems to have closed the book on the controversy over social media remarks concerning the contentious issue of land made by SA’s ambassador to Denmark, Zindzi Mandela.

South Africa’s ambassador to Denmark, Zindzi Mandela, has sparked a social media storm after a series of tweets on land rights in the country
Image: Roberto Ricciuti/Getty Images

Pandor said she had advised Mandela that she expected diplomatic conduct from her, but said Mandela could not be faulted on her position on land.

For her part, Mandela stood by Pandor after one Twitter user accused the minister of “bullying”.

Mandela said she had known Pandor for many years as one of the most genuine supporters of her mother, Winnie, when it was not popular to be one.

“In our discussion she was sympathetic and solution-specific.”

AfriForum had asked Pandor to take action against Mandela after she sparked controversy last week with a series of tweets she posted using the hashtag “Our Land”. AfriForum said it regarded the tweets as divisive and racist, and called for her to be recalled and dismissed.

Speaking to Bongani Bingwa on Radio 702 on Friday, Pandor said she had spoken to various media outlets on the topic and said: “I really feel this is not the matter I need to keep talking about.”

Pandor said she had spoken to Mandela, who confirmed that the tweets in question were hers.

“She reported to me that she has had weeks of what she termed ‘extreme provocation and degradation’ through various comments about her parents; particularly Mrs Mandela, and that she reacted in the way that she did due to some of the pejorative names that were being labelled at her,” Pandor said.

Pandor said she informed Mandela that she was a diplomat and the minister expected diplomatic conduct from her.

Pandor said Mandela should adhere to the social policy that government had which guided how public servants should utilise social media.

“So we agreed that she must really constrain herself and focus on stating government policy because she, as our representative,  should be advancing the policy goals of SA.

“On the matter of land, no one can call her into question there because we are committed to addressing equality of access to land and so that matter of land ownership changing, you cannot argue against that.”

Source: TMG Digital

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