Citing Attacks, Winnie Mandela Resigns From ANC Posts With AM-South Africa-Ciskei, Bjt
JOHANNESBURG, South Africa (AP) _ Winnie Mandela, the estranged wife of ANC leader Nelson Mandela, resigned her posts in the black organization Thursday after the publication of a damning love letter she allegedly wrote to a man half her age.
In the letter printed Sunday in the South African press, Mrs. Mandela allegedly told Dali Mpofu she feared an investigation into misuse of funds from the ANC’s social welfare department, which she once headed.
On Thursday, Mrs. Mandela said vicious gossip forced her to leave her posts in the African National Congress, but she denied any wrongdoing.
″We have not been without enemies, be it inside or outside our ranks,″ she said in a statement.
″Those who have rejoiced in reading about our problems and those who for selfish political and personal reasons have waged a vicious and malicious campaign against me and, through me, the leadership of my husband and our organization, have unfortunately partly succeeded in their aims,″ she said.
Mrs. Mandela resigned from the ANC’s ruling body, the National Executive, and her positions in the ANC’s Women’s League. She said she would remain an ANC member.
The ANC, the country’s main black opposition group, said Thursday night it accepted her resignation ″with a sense of regret and sorrow.″
Mrs. Mandela’s political career has been waning since her 1991 conviction on kidnapping and assault charges. She separated from Nelson Mandela, who was born in 1918, this year amid a barrage of reports about alleged misconduct.
The ANC has refused to confirm reports it is investigating alleged fraud in the social welfare department, including claims ANC money was used to pay for Mrs. Mandela and Mpofu to vacation and shop in New York City.
Local media have long linked Mrs. Mandela, 58, romantically to Mpofu, a 30- year-old lawyer who was part of the defense team in her 1991 trial. She and Mpofu have denied having an affair.
The often-rambling letter rebukes Mpofu for allegedly having other lovers and says the Mandela marriage collapsed largely because of the writer’s love for Mpofu.
″You are supposed to care so much for me that the fact I haven’t been speaking to Tata for five months now over you is no longer your concern,″ the letter said. Tata is an affectionate family name for Nelson Mandela.
Once hailed as ″Mother of the Nation,″ the fiery Mrs. Mandela had been struggling to make a political comeback since convicted in May 1991 in connection with the abduction of four young black men. Her chief bodyguard was found guilty of killing one of the four. Mrs. Mandela is appealing a six-year sentence.
The abduction affair erupted again in March with press reports that Mrs. Mandela was linked to the killing of a doctor who would have been a key witness in the trial. Police are investigating the claims.
Within weeks of those allegations, Mrs. Mandela had resigned as head of the ANC social welfare department and her husband announced they were separating after 34 years of marriage.