Civil rights organization AfriForum today asked the Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Dr Naledi Pandor, to recall and dismiss the South African Ambassador to Denmark, Zindzi Mandela. This follows after the Ambassador sent a series of extremely divisive, racist Twitter messages yesterday (14 June 2019) and using the hashtag “OurLand”.
According to Alana Bailey, Deputy CEO of AfriForum responsible for international liaison, the duty of an ambassador is to act for all residents of the country he or she represents, while promoting their interests without favour or prejudice. In addition, he or she should convey the image of a healthy and united country to gain the confidence of political partners and investors.
“With her Twitter messages, Mandela displayed a rancorous attitude towards white residents in the country and in a very public arena, contributed to the division of local communities. With false allegations and demeaning terms such as ‘cowards’ and ‘land thieves’, she is contributing to a dangerous discourse of scapegoating. Her defence that she is entitled to a personal opinion, shows a complete lack of insight into her responsibility in her position as ambassador. It is also inconsistent with the South African Constitution, which clearly states that the country belongs to everyone. The question therefore is whose interests she represents and how much work will be required to manage the relationship and reputation damage that she has now caused by these tweets.”
Bailey mentions that South Africa’s international reputation has suffered major damage in recent years due to the actions of diplomats abroad and the country’s official stance on various human rights issues locally and abroad. The appointment of Dr Pandor revived hopes in the international community that the Department of International Relations and Cooperation has turned over a new leaf and will try to reverse this reputation damage.
“The manner in which the Minister handles Ambassador Mandela will indicate whether this hope is justified,” says Bailey.