The civil rights organisation AfriForum submitted a complaint of hate speech to the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) against Zindzi Mandela, the South African ambassador in Denmark. This follows in response to a series of extremely divisive and racist Twitter messages sent by her on 14 June 2019.
According to Alana Bailey, Deputy CEO of AfriForum responsible for international liaison, AfriForum requested Dr Naledi Pandor, the Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, immediately after the messages became known to recall and dismiss the ambassador. Although the Department investigated the matter and found that Mandela had indeed been responsible for the messages, she was simply reprimanded. It now appears that her term as ambassador has, for the time being, been extended to December 2019 and that no further disciplinary steps will be taken against her by her employer. In view of this outcome, AfriForum has therefore decided to proceed with this complaint to the SAHRC.
“With her messages, Mandela bore witness to a hate-bearing attitude towards white people in the country. She has publicly contributed to the polarisation of local communities. With crude language, as well as false and humiliating references such as ‘rapists’, ‘cowards’ and ‘land thieves’, she is contributing to a dangerous discourse of scapegoating,” says Bailey.
“Her defence – that she is entitled to her personal opinion – demonstrates a complete lack of insight into her responsibility as ambassador to promote the image of South Africa and to serve all South Africans without prejudice. It is also inconsistent with the South African Constitution, which clearly states that the country belongs to everyone. She has to be held accountable for her actions and AfriForum therefore requests the SAHRC to investigate and act in this regard,” adds Bailey.
At present, the international image of South Africa and the actions of the country’s diplomats are once again in the spotlight. Evidence was heard in the investigation into state capture against Bruce Koloane, the current South African ambassador in the Netherlands, and a motion was adopted by the Dutch parliament last week against the South African government’s proposed race-based programme of expropriation without compensation.