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Mandela's will could lead to more family squabbles

Chantelle Benjamin

Nelson Mandela's will could reignite a power struggle after he chose Graca Machel, Makaziwe and Zenani to represent the family on big decisions.

Deputy Chief Justice Dikgang Moseneke (centre) and advocate George Bizos are two of the administrators and executors of Nelson Mandela's estate. (Delwyn Verasamy, M&G)

Former president Nelson Mandela appointed Graça Machel, Makaziwe and Zenani Mandela to represent the family in making important decisions "and on the needs of his family" in his will.

The details were read out at the Nelson Mandela Centre for Memory in Sandton on Monday by Deputy Chief Justice of the Constitutional Court Dikgang Moseneke, who is one of the administrators and executors of Mandela's will.

Mandla, the oldest grandson and traditional chief in the Eastern Cape, and Mandela’s eldest daughter by his first wife Evelyn, Makaziwe, are engaged in a struggle to win control of decision-making within the family.

His former second wife, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, suggested in a recent statement that Makaziwe should run the family affairs, in concert with her own two daughters, Zenani and Zindzi, earning the wrath of the AbaThembu royal house to which Mandela belonged.

Moseneke said the executors would not involve themselves in any cultural disputes – an indication perhaps that there would be further contention around the family's leadership in the future.

Another potential controversy is that Mandela's children, including Makaziwe and Zenani Mandela, were directly bequeathed no more than the money they received in his lifetime in a will that is bound to reignite the squabbles that have divided the family.

Last wishes
It's estimated so far that his estate, excluding the assets held in the trusts, is worth about R46-million.

Other executors are Judge President Themba Sangoni and advocate George Bizos.

Mandela, who died on December 5 at the age of 95, left behind an estate that includes royalties from his paintings and book sales, an upmarket house in Houghton, Johannesburg, a home in Qunu in the Eastern Cape, and a house in Cape Town.

In his lifetime he had become a valuable brand as a Nobel Peace Prize winner and an ambassador for reconciliation. It was felt that some of his relatives made use of his name to make money marketing everything from wine to reality TV shows.

Moseneke said some of the estate would be split between three trusts set up by Mandela, including a family trust designed to provide for his more than 30 children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

Makaziwe and Zenani recently dropped a case to sue for the rights to Mandela's artworks and control of alleged vast amounts of money believed to be associated with the rights. Of the above-mentioned children, together with Zindziswa Mandela and the late Makgatho Lewanika Mandela, the will said that $300 000 each had already "been advanced", and "if and to the extent that he/she has an obligation to repay this amount, then I bequeath to her/him so many rands that will result in a set-off of this obligation".

Included in this group are grandchildren, Ndileka Mandela and Nandi Mandela, who are the children of the late Thembekile Mandela, who was killed in a car accident, as well as the children of Mandela's son, Makgatho Lewanika Mandela, who died in 2005.

Bitter struggle
Mbuso, Andile, Ndaba, and Mandla Mandela, who recently found himself in a bitter struggle to be seen as the family leader, all received $300 000 each (about R3-million).

The children of Mandela's third wife Graça Machel – Josina and Malengane Machel – also received $300 000 each.

All his other grandchildren and great-grandchildren received R100 000 each, as did the six children from former Mozambique president Samora Machel from another wife.

The money given to Ndaba and Mandla was to be distributed at the discretion of the NRM Family Trust, according to the will, which may be an issue of contention.

Mandela stipulated in the will that the money set aside for Zindiziswa Mandela be paid to Graça or his administrators "who shall from time to time pay such legatees the interests and capital of such amounts, at the discretion of my third wife or my administrators".

An interesting revelation is that Graça was married to Mandela under community of property, giving her an option to claim half of his estate or accept to take only specified assets, which appeared to be largely possessions she brought into the marriage and properties in Maputo. She has 90 days to make a decision.

Helping others
Mandela, who had always expressed his support for preserving historic legacy and in promoting education, left R100 000 each to various schools and institutions, and between 10% and 30% of the proceeds of royalties to the ANC to be used to record and promote information on the party relating to its policy and principles of reconciliation since 1912.

Receiving R100 000 each was the University of Witwatersrand, Fort Hare University, Clarkebury High School in Ngcobo in the Transkei and Healdtown Comprehensive High School in Fort Beaufort. Scholarships and bursaries worth the same amount were given to Qunu Secondary School and Orlando West High School.

To nine staff members, including Zelda le Grange, who was his assistant and personal assistant during his presidency and when he retired, he left R50 000 each. Many of the staff members who were present at the public presentation of the will admitted to be overcome by the generous payout, which one said would help to pay off a house.

Wits, in a statement issued soon after the announcement, said it was "humbled that [Mandela] chose to remember the university in his will. "Wits accepts this generous bequest from one of our most illustrious alumni and commits to using it to address the development of higher education in South Africa." Its vice-chancellor, Professor Adam Habib, was invited to reading of the will.

The full will is a public document and can be seen by a member of the public who approaches the court.

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