Winnie reinstated because President `breached rules'

The saga of Winnie and Nelson Mandela took another extraordinary turn yesterday as the South African President decided he would have to reinstate his sacked and estranged wife to her government post in order to avoid an embarrassing court case.

The combatative Mrs Mandela thus seemed to have won yet another round against the government on technical points, showing that her removal from her post as deputy minister of arts, culture, science and technology may have been unconstitutional for a whole string of reasons.

President Mandela said he would consider his next move on his return today from a tour to the Gulf, but that for the time being Mrs Mandela was back at her post since his action was "technically and procedurally invalid". Mrs Mandela's lawyer said that, in return, she would drop her court case against him.

The most simple fault, according to the Johannesburg newspaper the Star, was the absence of the presidential seal of office from the letter sacking her. More complex issues were raised by her constitutional right to know the exact reasons why she was fired.

Mr Mandela never revealed exactly why he curtly dismissed her on 27 March. The reasoncited was that she had defied him in travelling abroad against his orders. But unofficially, Mrs Mandela was an embarrassment even before her popularity among the grass roots in the African National Congress had secured her a government post last year.

A kidnapping conviction in 1991, a contributory factor in the 1992 separation of the couple, has been topped lately by accusations of bribe-taking. She also had turned herself into a rallying point of populist criticism over what she said was the slow pace of change during the first year of the new South African government.

Mrs Mandela probably will only be reinstated for a few hours or days before she is fired once again; this time in accordance to the fine print of the constitution. There is little sense that huge masses of people are standing behind her as she scores legalistic points, as she did when she won back documents seized from her house last month during a police raid.

More unsettling is the ease with which Mr Mandela and his team are thrown off the real business of government, or in the words of one diplomat, how some ministers still seem to be looking for the pencil sharpeners on their desks. The situation is not helped by the fact that Mr Mandela often has been travelling abroad rather than following the details of government at home.

The government also has not found a way to deal adequately with ticklish problems posed by the Zulu leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi, who added insult to his usual injuriesby attaching an affidavit to Mrs Mandela's legal suit that he was not consulted about the sacking, which is his right as leader of a minority party ingovernment.

Mr Buthelezi is seeking greater autonomy for his provincial powerbase of KwaZulu-Natal and withdrew from the writing of South Africa's final constitution on Saturday. "We will not accept their constitution," Mr Buthelezi said after a meeting of hispolicy-making National Council in the Zulu capital, Ulundi.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: UX Consultant

£35000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: You will be working with a 8 st...

Recruitment Genius: Part-time Editor

£8000 - £12000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A unique opportunity has arisen ...

Recruitment Genius: Field Sales Executive

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: An exceptional opportunity has arisen for a pa...

Recruitment Genius: Kitchen and Bathroom Installers

£18000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This provider of designer kitch...

Day In a Page

Orthorexia nervosa: How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition

Orthorexia nervosa

How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition
Lady Chatterley is not obscene, says TV director

Lady Chatterley’s Lover

Director Jed Mercurio on why DH Lawrence's novel 'is not an obscene story'
Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests

Set a pest to catch a pest

Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests
Mexico: A culture that celebrates darkness as an essential part of life

The dark side of Mexico

A culture that celebrates darkness as an essential part of life
Being sexually assaulted was not your fault, Chrissie Hynde. Don't tell other victims it was theirs

Being sexually assaulted was not your fault, Chrissie Hynde

Please don't tell other victims it was theirs
A nap a day could save your life - and here's why

A nap a day could save your life

A midday nap is 'associated with reduced blood pressure'
If men are so obsessed by sex, why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?

If men are so obsessed by sex...

...why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?
The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3

Jon Thoday and Richard Allen-Turner

The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3
The bathing machine is back... but with a difference

Rolling in the deep

The bathing machine is back but with a difference
Part-privatised tests, new age limits, driverless cars: Tories plot motoring revolution

Conservatives plot a motoring revolution

Draft report reveals biggest reform to regulations since driving test introduced in 1935
The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border