'Politicians who use Mandela's name negatively are politically bankrupt'

Johannesburg - Politicians who use former president Nelson Mandela's name negatively are politically bankrupt, ANC deputy secretary general Jessie Duarte has said.

"We have taken note of the fact that very new on the scene politicians are using Madiba's name negatively to popularise themselves and we think it is very disingenuous," she told News24.

"It does show a... lack of understanding that indeed they are able to do what they [are] doing in the country and externally because of the calibre of people like Madiba, Walter Sisulu, Govan Mbeki and Oliver Tambo and many, many others."

Duarte said the African National Congress would not engage with politically bankrupt individuals.

She was reacting to statements made by Economic Freedom Fighters leader Julius Malema during a visit to the United Kingdom.

'That’s when he turned against himself'

Malema told the Oxford Union in the UK that Mandela had turned his back on parts of the revolution after being released from prison.

"The deviation from the Freedom Charter was the beginning of the selling out of the revolution. But why did Nelson Mandela sell out the Freedom Charter? When Mandela returned from prison he got separated with Winnie Mandela and went to stay in a house of the rich white men... he was looked after by the Oppenheimers," he said.

"Nelson Mandela used to attend the club meetings of those white men who owned the South African economy at the time."

Malema's comments were in response to a question on whether Mandela betrayed the people of South Africa in exchange for political power.

Malema said these white men had access to Mandela 24 hours a day and they told him that "what he represents would not be achieved".

"That’s when he turned against himself," Malema said.

Duarte said it was important to remember that Mandela worked as part of a collective and never took decisions alone.

"He consulted others... and indeed if we didn't have the character and calibre of leaders that we did in 1990 the situation in South Africa would be one where we would still be at war with ourselves as a country.

"It took a lot of courage, it took... sacrifices and indeed compromises, which not everybody might have agreed with...," Duarte said.

'Mandela is being denigrated by anarchy'

There was no ideology in Malema's comments, she said.

She admitted that although institutions of democracy had been established and everyone had the right to vote, the economy was not democratic and was not in the hands of the people.

But Duarte questioned why Malema was making the comments in the UK.

"The problem is, you go to the UK where you make these kinds of statements and [you're] talking to people whose interests are not to invest in the country, then the question we must ask is who are these people, what are their interests and what is the interest of the person who is speaking to them.

"It must be anarchy and Madiba was totally against anarchy and I think that is why he is being denigrated by anarchy at the moment."

Duarte urged all South Africans to recognise what Mandela had done for the country especially next month when they commemorate the second anniversary of his death.