Zindzi Mandela

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Zindziswa Mandela (born 23 December 1960), also known as Zindzi Mandela-Hlongwane, is a South African politician who is currently serving as her country's ambassador to Denmark. The daughter of anti-apartheid activists Nelson Mandela and Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, Zindzi is the younger sister of Zenani Mandela and the third of Nelson Mandela's three daughters.[1]


Zindzi Mandela was born on 23 December 1960 in Soweto to Nelson Mandela and Winnie Mandela. Her father was both a direct descendant of holders of the kingship of the Thembu people and an heir to the chieftaincy of Mvezo. Zindzi's nephew Mandla, descended from Mandela via his first wife Evelyn Mase, currently holds the latter title.

The year of her birth was also the year that the African National Congress (ANC) launched an armed wing. Her parents were wanted by the government.[2] By the time her father was sent to prison Zindzi was 18 months old. During her youth Zindzi was often left in the care of her older sister Zenani Mandela when her mother was sent to prison for months at a time.

In 1977 her mother was banished to the Free State and Zindzi lived with her. Zindzi was not able to complete her education until she was sent to Swaziland.[2] Eventually her mother was allowed to move back to Soweto.

In 1985 her father was offered a conditional release by the South African president, P. W. Botha. Her father's reply could not be delivered by her parents and Zindzi was chosen to read his refusal at a public meeting on 10 February 1985.[3]

She studied law at the University of Cape Town[2][4], where she earned a BA in 1985.[5]

Her poetry was published in 1978 in the book Black as I Am, with photographs by Peter Magubane,[6] and has also appeared in publications including Somehow We Survive: An Anthology of South African Writing, edited by Sterling Plumpp[7] and Daughters of Africa, edited by Margaret Busby.[8]

Release of father and First Lady[edit]

When Nelson Mandela was released from prison in 1990, immediate talks began between the unbanned political party the ANC, and the ruling government the National Party to dismantle the Apartheid system.

With then ANC president Oliver Tambo's health deteriorating, Mandela was elected as the new ANC president and a candidate for the President of South Africa in the upcoming 1994 general elections.

After Mandela was elected president and his divorce from Winnie in 1996, Zindziswa was chosen to accompany her father to his inauguration and become the stand in First Lady of South Africa until her father remarried in 1998 on his 80th birthday to former Mozambique first lady Graça Machel.[9]


Mandela-Hlongwane is said to have agreed to arrange a boxing match between Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao to coincide with her father's birthday in 2011. The match did not take place and the boxing promoter Duane Moody sued successfully for a US court to order that she pay $4.7m, plus costs, in damages to Moody. Mandela-Hlongwane was expected to appeal.[1]


In 2014 she was reported to be South Africa's ambassador to Denmark. She first arrived in Denmark in June 2015.[10]

Personal life[edit]

Zindzi has been married twice and has four children: Zoleka Mandela, (1980), Zondwa Mandela (1985), Bambatha Mandela (1989) and Zwelabo Mandela (1992).[11] Her first husband was Zwelibanzi Hlongwane.[12] She married her second husband, Molapo Motlhajwa, who was a member of the South African National Defence Force, in March 2013.[13]


Twitter controversy[edit]

In June 2019, while ambassador to Denmark, Mandela's Twitter account sent a series of increasingly strongly worded Tweets, where she discussed "trembling white cowards who are the thieving rapist descendants of Van Riebeck [sic]", and "uninvited visitors who don't want to leave" that caused significant controversy.[14][15][16] Mandela-Hlongwane had previously that month expressed her "deep, pure unconditional love and respect" for "CIC" (leader) of the Economic Freedom Fighters(EFF), Julius Malema.[17]

While being investigated by the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO) for breaching their social media policy, Mandela remained defiant, Tweeting that "I am not accountable to any white man or woman for my personal views. No missus or baas here. Get over yourselves #OurLand".[18] She was ordered by foreign minister Naledi Pandor to "conduct herself as a diplomat" and to adhere to the department's social media policy, and concern about her views was expressed by former president Thabo Mbeki, and her views were described as hate speech by ANC veteran Mavuso Msimang, while her opinions drew support from the EFF and the Premier of KwaZulu-Natal Sihle Zikalala.[19] Her Tweets came close to the end of her four-year term as ambassador to Denmark.[20]

In popular media[edit]


  1. ^ a b Paul Thompson, "Nelson Mandela's daughter ordered to pay promoter $7.5m after failing to stage boxing megafight", Daily Mail, 3 January 2012. Retrieved 5 May 2016.
  2. ^ a b c Zindzi Mandela born, South African History Online, 16 March 2011. Retrieved 5 May 2016.
  3. ^ "Zindzi Mandela reads her father’s rejection to PW Both in 1985", SABC Digital News, via YouTube. Retrieved 5 May 2016.
  4. ^ William E. Jackson Jr., "Madiba: In the Presence of Greatness", The World Post, HuffPost. Retrieved 31 July 2017.
  5. ^ "Zindzi Mandela", Who's Who Southern Africa.
  6. ^ Zindzi Mandela, Black As I Am. Photographs by Peter Magubane; foreword by Andrew Young. Los Angeles Guild of Tutors Press, 1978. ISBN 978-0896150010.
  7. ^ Zindzi Mandela, "Drink from my empty cup", in Sterling Plumpp (ed), Somehow we survive: An anthology of South African writing, Thunder's Mouth Press, 1982, p. 27. ISBN 9780938410027.
  8. ^ Zindzi (Zindziswa) Mandela, "I Waited for You Lat Night", in Daughters of Africa, Jonathan Cape, 1992, p. 915.
  9. ^ Julia Llewellyn Smith, "Zindzi Mandela interview: the father I knew", The Telegraph, 15 December 2013
  10. ^ Ben Hamilton, "Mandela finally in Denmark", CPHPost, 26 June 2015. Retrieved 5 May 2016.
  11. ^ "Nelson Mandela Family Tree", South African History Online. Retrieved 24 November 2016.
  12. ^ Hugh Pope, "Mandelas will divorce, says daughter", The Independent, 8 March 1995.
  13. ^ "Mandela's daughter marries MK veteran", Daily Dispatch, 6 March 2013. Retrieved 5 May 2016.
  14. ^ [1]
  15. ^ [2]
  16. ^ [3]
  17. ^ [4]
  18. ^ [5]
  19. ^ Oliver Meth, "Thabo Mbeki wants action to be taken against Zindzi Mandela", Sunday Tribune, 23 June 2019
  20. ^ Jan De Lange, "The end of Zindzi Mandela’s term may have driven tirade", City Press, 23 June 2019
  21. ^ a b Battersby 2011, p. 601; Keller, Bill (15 August 2008). "Entering the Scrum". The New York Times. Archived from the original on 14 February 2013. Retrieved 14 February 2013.

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