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No, Thabo Mbeki did not call for Zinzdi Mandela’s prosecution for tweets on land in South Africa

On 24 June 2019 known junk news site Newsoweto published an article headlined: “Mbeki wants Zindzi Mandela to be prosecuted for calling Whites ‘Land thieves’”. Thabo Mbeki was president of South Africa from 1999 to 2008.

The article was shared on Facebook, where it was flagged as possibly false.

Zindzi Mandela-Hlongwane is South Africa’s ambassador to Denmark. She is also the daughter of the country’s first democratically elected president, Nelson Mandela. 

Mandela-Hlongwane has caused a social media storm with a series of controversial tweets about land.

“Dear Apartheid Apologists, your time is over. You will not rule again. We do not fear you. Finally #TheLandIsOurs,” she tweeted on 14 June.

A second tweet posted the same day reads: “Whilst I wine and dine here ..wondering how the world of shivering land thieves is doing #OurLand.”

The tweets prompted controversy, with several South African politicians weighing in on the debate. But was Mbeki one of them? 

Tweets should ‘not be allowed’

The Newsoweto article refers to a Sunday Tribune article headlined “Thabo Mbeki wants action to be taken against Zindzi Mandela”.

Mbeki did speak to the Sunday Tribune about Mandela-Hlongwane’s tweets. But he did not say she should be “prosecuted” for them – as a video of the interview confirms.

He said he had not read the tweets, but if they were inconsistent with President Cyril Ramaphosa’s position on the land issue, they should not be allowed.

“There’s no ambassador who represents themselves and if Zindzi Mandela’s tweets are inconsistent with what the president is saying, then that cannot be allowed,” Mbeki said.

“The president I know, has been very insistent on this, that land reform must be done on a constitutional and legal basis and such amendments of the constitution are to clarify the circumstance in which you would expropriate land without compensation.”

The Newsoweto headline is therefore false.

On 25 June the Thabo Mbeki Foundation issued a statement saying the Sunday Tribune headline was also false.

It says that “at no point” did Mbeki “call for any action to be taken against Ambassador Mandela. This is borne out by everything the journalist quoted from President Mbeki.” - Africa Check


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