This is the view of South African author, musician and activist, Sizwe Mpofu-Walsh while speaking at a panel discussion led by Lord Peter Hain at Wits Business School. The title of the event was ‘Mandela: Saviour or sell-out?’.
Quoted by TimesLive Mpofu said Mandela had become whatever those in power wanted him to be. “The reason this debate emerged is because the appropriation of Mandela is more powerful than Mandela.”
Panellist and lecturer S’thembile Mbete agreed: by saying “I am so tired of the deification of Mandela (making him into a god).” She said the obsession with Mandela was “a way of forgetting the present”. She added: “The ANC uses Mandela as a mask for its dramatic failures.”
Mpofu-Walsh‚ whose father Dali Mpofu is national chairperson of the Economic Freedom Fighters‚ had a warning. He said if the ANC won elections next year after and because of invoking Mandela‚ South Africa would be the same in five years’ time.
The panel also tried to answer the question if Mandela was a sell out by – in the nineties – doing too much to keep white power happy and not enough to ensure there was justice for the oppressed black majority?
Activist Zohra Ebrahim reminded the audience that the country was bankrupt in 1994‚ when Mandela took over‚ and he had to take the economic reality into account. “We must be careful of reinterpreting history without the context of history‚” she warned.