South Africa: Mandela’s daughters seek more control over his companies


Former South African President Nelson Mandela (C) celebrate his birthday surrounded by his grandchildren during an interview with the media at his house in Qunu, on July 18, 2008.


Themba Hadebe

Even as Nelson Mandela recovers from his latest lung infection, the family of the aging South African icon looks like it's falling into a feud.

His daughters Makaziwe Mandela and Zenani Mandela-Dlamini are seeking the removal of the three directors from Harmonieux Investment Holdings and Magnifique Investment Holdings, established to channel money from the sale of Mandela’s handprint to the Mandela family.

The two companies are reportedly worth about 15 million rand ($1.7 million).

Makaziwe is founder of the House of Mandela wine label and Zenani is the South African ambassador to Argentina, the Guardian reported.

The daughters claim that human rights lawyer George Bizos, a close friend of 94-year-old Mandela’s, cabinet minister Tokyo Sexwale and Mandela's ex-lawyer Bally Chuene were never properly appointed to the boards and therefore should be removed.

Mandela has become increasingly frail in recent years, last appearing in public during the 2010 soccer World Cup when he toured the stadium in a golf cart with wife Graca Machel ahead of the final match.

Amid concerns about his health, his family members and political comrades have been caught up in bitter feuds over his name, image and legacy. At stake are foundations and charities Mandela set up after stepping down as South African
president in 1999.

There have also been battles over control of his funeral rights, and over who has the right to speak on behalf of the Mandela family.

In her affidavit, Makaziwe wrote: “All three — Bizos, Chuene and Sexwale — were invited to resign as directors, which invitation they declined. Bizos, Chuene and Sexwale were not formally appointed by the shareholder [Mandela] of the companies by way of any resolution.”

The allegations are untrue, the three men said through their lawyer.

"We are instructed to record our clients' complete rejection of the scurrilous allegations made by the applicants in their papers," their lawyer, Michael Hart, a director at the law firm Norton Rose, said in a statement.

Bizos, 84, who has known Mandela for 65 years, told the Star that Makaziwe and Zenani were attempting “to further their interests and get their hands on the money," the Guardian reported.

"There is no basis to the allegations," he told the Star, according to the Guardian. "We are not hijackers. We don't hijack things. The public should ask themselves why five years later these allegations are being laid. We are confident we were regularly appointed at the wish of Mr. Mandela five years ago."

Senior Correspondent Erin Conway-Smith contributed reporting from Johannesburg. Follow her on Twitter @ejcs.

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