Bizos, Sexwale address Mandela family dispute

Johannesburg, July 10 – Two trustees of former president Nelson Mandela’s companies have broken their silence on the tensions bedeviling the Mandela family. Video: eNCA

Johannesburg - Two trustees of former president Nelson Mandela’s companies have broken their silence on the tensions bedevilling the Mandela family.

Advocate George Bizos and Tokyo Sexwale have been the subject of a court bid to remove them as directors from the companies, however, they were conciliatory and offered advice to the feuding Mandelas.

Deep divisions within the Mandela family have been reduced to a public spectacle.

One of Madiba's closest friends said the Mandela family squabble is not unique to this family.

Lawyer and family friend George Bizos said: “There’s a long history. It’s not unusual for children from different mothers, different temperaments and different ambitions disagreeing with one another or even with their father.

"Although I do know of matters that were hurtful to him, I do not want to discuss them publicly. Family matters should not be the gossip among people or in reports in newspapers, television or radio.”

Former human settlements minister and businessman Tokyo Sexwale said: “There’s turmoil when somebody leaves. Brother turns against brother and all sorts of things. What they’re doing is almost normal.

"Let’s not laugh at them but we should say to them, it’s wrong to do it in public. Don’t do it in front of the cameras. Do it like all of us are going through these things but behind the scenes and let them be assured that we love you, we pray for you, we want to see you united.

"Even if you have your own issues, argue -- fight! But do it behind the scenes, we don’t want to hear you."

Both Bizos and Sexwale were appointed by Mandela as trustees of some of his legacy projects.

However, two of Mandela's daughters instituted legal action to try and force them out.

Bizoz said he remained unmoved although the court action has weighed heavily on him.

“I personally am concerned but I have to live with it. I have some role to play in the future which I do not want to discuss but I will be faithful to what he expected of me.

"And not only of me alone, of the close circle of his friends to do what had to be done in the future,” said Bizos.

Sexwale downplayed the tensions and said he met some of the family members occasionally.

“No we don’t feel alienated from the family. They were raising issues of law, legality and so forth but I can assure you that will come to an end itself, as all things do.

"There’s no permanent sore, it heals - no matter how heavy the pain,” he said.

Bizos says Mandela is unaware of the current dispute amongst his family and those nearest to the ailing former statesman have avoided informing him of the differences.

Both men believe discussions will help resolve the issues.

“Deal with your ghosts, and that’s all I can say here," Sexwale said.

Reading an extract written by Mandela for his book, Bizos said he would remain loyal despite the disagreements.


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