Winnie climbs down as Mandela gets tough

President Nelson Mandela has finally cracked down on his estranged wife, Winnie, sending a warning signal to the radical wing of his African National Congress as well as to ANC officials alleged to have taken personal advantage of their new power.

The deeply angered president forced Mrs Mandela to draft a second letter to retract a speech in which she harshly criticised the government 10 days ago. President Mandela had rejected a letter, which stopped well short of a climbdown. In the second missive, Mrs Mandela swallowed her rhetoric, gave an abject apology and chose to stay in office as a deputy minister for arts and science.

"I would like to apologise most sincerely for the impression the speech caused that I sought to condemn the government," Mrs Mandela wrote. "I sincerely regret any embarrassment that the speech might have caused the president." Mr Mandela, whose marriage broke down three years ago, accepted the second letter. His firm action was in line with calls for such action in the South African press. Commentators said the crisis, which has served as a distraction from more positive changes, such as Mr Mandela's opening yesterday of South Africa's new constitutional court, was over for now.

"Sadly, President Mandela has failed to deal promptly with these matters . . . his tough response is justified," said the Johannesburg Star. Business Day said the ANC had to act earlier rather than later to rein in its "loose cannons". One senior commentator, who declined to be identified, said the past few days of crisis were important in showing that President Mandela intended the ANC-led government to abide by the high standards it sets itself and to tackle what the Johannesburg Sunday Times called a "sleaze factor that threatens SA's dreams". The commentator pointed out, that for the dispossessed, Mrs Mandela has a special charisma. "Winnie is a dynamic all on her own. She operates outside the structures. She thinks she can say what she likes. This is the first time that she's been brought to book. President Mandela sent a powerful message."

That message was also given on Monday when Mr Mandela accepted the resignation of veteran anti-apartheid campaigner Allan Boesak from his nomination as South Africa's ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva. An investigation alleged that Mr Boesak pocketed funds donated for the oppressed poor from abroad.

Then there is the row over whether Mrs Mandela had been right to take £65,000 from Pakistan and give it to a township said to be politically close to her, or whether she should have given it to the ANC's Women's League, of which she is president.Nearly half of the league's executive committee resigned on Saturday, over Mrs Mandela's headstrong leadership.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Junior Web Designer - Client Liaison

£6 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join a gro...

Recruitment Genius: Service Delivery Manager

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Service Delivery Manager is required to join...

Recruitment Genius: Massage Therapist / Sports Therapist

£12000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A opportunity has arisen for a ...

Ashdown Group: Practice Accountant - Bournemouth - £38,000

£32000 - £38000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful accountancy practice in...

Day In a Page

The Last Word: Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing
The saffron censorship that governs India: Why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression

The saffron censorship that governs India

Zareer Masani reveals why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression
Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Supreme Court rules Dominic Grieve's ministerial veto was invalid
Distressed Zayn Malik fans are cutting themselves - how did fandom get so dark?

How did fandom get so dark?

Grief over Zayn Malik's exit from One Direction seemed amusing until stories of mass 'cutting' emerged. Experts tell Gillian Orr the distress is real, and the girls need support
The galaxy collisions that shed light on unseen parallel Universe

The cosmic collisions that have shed light on unseen parallel Universe

Dark matter study gives scientists insight into mystery of space
The Swedes are adding a gender-neutral pronoun to their dictionary

Swedes introduce gender-neutral pronoun

Why, asks Simon Usborne, must English still struggle awkwardly with the likes of 's/he' and 'they'?
Disney's mega money-making formula: 'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan

Disney's mega money-making formula

'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan
Lobster has gone mainstream with supermarket bargains for £10 or less - but is it any good?

Lobster has gone mainstream

Anthea Gerrie, raised on meaty specimens from the waters around Maine, reveals how to cook up an affordable feast
Easter 2015: 14 best decorations

14 best Easter decorations

Get into the Easter spirit with our pick of accessories, ornaments and tableware
Paul Scholes column: Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season

Paul Scholes column

Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season
Inside the Kansas greenhouses where Monsanto is 'playing God' with the future of the planet

The future of GM

The greenhouses where Monsanto 'plays God' with the future of the planet
Britain's mild winters could be numbered: why global warming is leaving UK chillier

Britain's mild winters could be numbered

Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Donation brings total raised by Homeless Veterans campaign to at least £1.25m
Oh dear, the most borrowed book at Bank of England library doesn't inspire confidence

The most borrowed book at Bank of England library? Oh dear

The book's fifth edition is used for Edexcel exams
Cowslips vs honeysuckle: The hunt for the UK’s favourite wildflower

Cowslips vs honeysuckle

It's the hunt for UK’s favourite wildflower