THE TIMES NEWSPAPER
JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA
By Brendan Boyle, Chandré Prince and Mpumelelo Mkhabela
Feb 22, 2009
‘Shame, the old man doesn’t deserve this kind of nonsense’
Winnie Madikizela-Mandela and his daughter, Zindzi, were ‘livid’ about the way he had been press-ganged into a political endorsement of Zuma and the ANC
Nelson Mandela’s grandson, chief Mandla Mandela, and a group of Jacob Zuma supporters broke almost every rule in the book last week to whisk the ailing 90-year-old icon from his home to the ANC’s Eastern Cape heartland to shore up support.
Mandela, Zuma to address ANC rally
The Sunday Times has established that Mandela was fetched from his Houghton home early on Sunday by his grandson and former ANC Youth League leader Fikile Mbalula, who now heads the party’s campaign for the April 22 election.
Against all precedent, he was flown without proper security arrangements from Lanseria airport to Mthatha in a private aircraft that belongs to an unidentified businessman.
Senior police officers, who were in the convoy that escorted Mandela from Mthatha to Idutywa, said his aircraft made three attempts to land in very bad weather before touching down at 11am, an hour behind schedule.
Sources familiar with the day’s events said Mandela, who usually starts preparing for bed around 4pm, was only brought home well after dark. “It really was very bad and irresponsible treatment of the old man,” said one confidant. A family friend added: “Shame, the old man really doesn’t deserve this kind of nonsense at this time of his life. It’s a very sorry story. ”
The Nelson Mandela Foundation, which has managed his travel arrangements since he stepped down as president in 1999, was unaware of the visit until late the day before, and was not allowed to help, to make plans or asked for advice.
“In fact, we were not aware that he was going until almost the last minute. We were taken as much by surprise as many other people,” foundation chairman Jakes Gerwel told the Sunday Times yesterday.
He said the trip had been made with none of the usual consideration for Mandela’s security or physical comfort. “It has been consistently the practice over the years since he left the president’s office that we (the foundation) have been involved. I can’t remember a case where we were not involved,” Gerwel said.
VIP commander Senior Superintendent Jabulani Magwa said his office was notified about Mandela’s arrival late on Saturday, February 14, and instructed to dispatch security for the following day.
A senior official said they would normally be advised a few days in advance of Mandela’s arrival in the province.
Among violations of the usual protocols that protect South Africa’s most famous citizen were:
Mandela’s presidential protection unit team is usually given time to assess the travel plan and to have a team waiting for him on arrival at his destination. This was not done;
His personal security team should check the overland route he will take days in advance. This was also not done. Instead, it was delegated to Zuma’s team, which violated the rule that each team must manage only its own principal;
Mandela usually flies in specific air force jets known to be able to accommodate his physical needs. Again, this was not done. The aircraft he flew in was privately owned, its security was not checked and it was not suited to his needs;
If he is flying in any other plane it has to be security vetted and checked for his specification ---not done
Mandela rarely uses secondary airports for security reasons and the risk of being mobbed. When he does, special arrangements are made for his arrival and departure. This was not done;
Madiba’s staff always check venues to ensure he can safely negotiate paths and stairs and can be comfortably seated. It was not done and he had to be virtually lifted onto the stage;
Mandela usually has a pre-flight medical and flies with a personal physician. It was not done;
Special arrangements are usually made with the nearest hospital to ensure that a suitable team is on hand and familiar with his medical file. It was not done; and
A helicopter is usually on stand-by within short flying distance to airlift him to the nearest big urban centre in an emergency. It was not arranged.
Immediately after landing, Mandela and his entourage travelled to Idutywa, where the ANC was holding its election rally. The police officers said Mandela, accompanied by his grandson, his daughter, Makaziwe, and his granddaughter, Ndileka, left for his Qunu home after the rally at about 2pm.
They were later joined by Zuma, Mbalula, ANC Youth League president Julius Malema and a few other Eastern Cape ANC leaders for lunch.
“I’m not sure if Malema sat at the lunch table, but he was also there,” said one officer.
Shortly thereafter, Mandela and Zuma headed to the Mthatha airport in separate convoys, flying off at about 5pm in different aircraft. One officer said Mandela appeared “relaxed”.
Many ANC veterans and members of the current leadership were shocked to see Mandela at the rally, because he has said repeatedly through his staff that he does not want to be involved in the election campaign.
“He made the point to me a number of times: ‘I don’t want to be involved and I don’t want to do any electioneering.’ It’s not something we made up, it comes from him,” Gerwel said.
Supporters of Zuma’s bid for the presidency have been piling on the pressure for a Mandela endorsement in the face of COPE, the breakaway party led by Terror Lekota and Mbhazima Shilowa.
Sources close to the family said Mandla took Zuma and Mbalula to see Mandela at his home two weeks ago. It is not known what was discussed there.
The sources said Mandla often takes visitors to the Houghton home, thereby avoiding any control by the foundation.
Close associates said Mandela’s former wife, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, and his daughter, Zindzi, were “livid” about the way he had been press-ganged into a political endorsement of Zuma and the ANC.
A family friend pointed out that Mandla and his aunt, Makaziwe, had only recently taken an interest in ANC politics after being essentially apolitical for years.
ANC spokesman Lindiwe Zulu said yesterday the foundation was not responsible for Mandela’s travel. “This has absolutely nothing to do with the foundation. Mandela’s political life — in the ANC — has nothing to do with the foundation. Maybe we need to check what are the responsibilities of the foundation and of the political party and its members. These are two separate things. What the foundation does is for anti-Aids, his social responsibility. It absolutely has nothing to do with his political work,” she said.
But Gerwel said the former president had given the task to the foundation years ago.
“The foundation has been charged by Madiba to be what the Americans would call his “post-presidential office”, so his security, which includes his health, has been entrusted to our care. He was not necessarily put at risk — it’s just that it was outside of the normal practice of logistical arrangements.”
Responding to the suggestion that Mandela deserved better than to be dragged around the country to help the ANC overcome its mistakes, Zulu said it was his responsibility to do that.
“Mandela still has (his) full senses. .. He won’t do what he does not want to do. If anyone has the issue, it’s their issue, it’s now our issue. As far as we are concerned, Mandela is still a political person,” she said.
People who have visited Mandela recently said he showed little interest in recent developments within the party.
Monday, February 23, 2009
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