Zindziswa Mandela was a South African diplomat and poet, and the daughter of anti-apartheid activists and politicians Nelson Mandela and Winnie Madikizela-Mandela. Zindzi was the youngest and third of Nelson Mandela’s three daughters, including sister Zenani Mandela.
She had served as her country’s ambassador to Denmark, and was due to take up a post as ambassador to Liberia. She served as a stand-in First Lady of South Africa from 1996 to 1998.
Zindzi Mandela was born on 23 December 1960 in Soweto, in what was then the Union of South Africa, to Nelson and Winnie Mandela. The year of her birth was also the year that the African National Congress (ANC) launched its armed wing. Her parents were wanted by the government. Zindzi was 18 months old when her father was sent to prison, . During her youth she was often left in the care of her older sister Zenani Mandela when her mother was imprisoned for months at a time.
She served as a stand-in First Lady of South Africa from 1996 until 1998, between her parents’ divorce and her father’s remarriage, to Graça Machel.[
Zindzi was appointed South Africa’s ambassador to Denmark in 2014. She first arrived in Denmark in June 2015. 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”
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. 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. Her tweets came close to the end of her four-year term as ambassador to Denmark.
At the time of her death in Johannesburg, she was designated to take up a post as ambassador to Liberia, a posting described by family members as a “punishment” for her controversial tweets the previous year.
Zindzi was married twice and had four children:
Zindzi died on 13 July 2020 at a hospital in Johannesburg at the age of 59. It was revealed that she had tested positive for COVID-19 on the day of her death. She was buried next to her mother, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, at Fourways Memorial Park on 17 July, a day before the 102nd birthday of her late father, Nelson Mandela.