Mandela’s Health Improves But His Brand Steadily Diminishes

June 18, 2013  |  

Nelson Mandela surrounded by celebs, including Will Smith, at a 2008 birthday concert in London. Credit: Daniel Deme / WENN

After Nelson Mandela’s ninth day in the hospital, many held their breath in realization that he may not reach his 95th birthday next month. Fortunately, the former South African president has been improving from a lung infection, Politico reports. But while his health problems subside, Mandela’s business and brand issues remain.

As MN has reported in April, Mandela’s granddaughter Tukwini Mandela has been eyeing the family business — which manages sales of Mandela’s artwork — that is co-owned with Mandela’s associate, George Bizos.

In a nutshell, there has been a wrangle between Tukwini—along with her mother, Makaziwe–and Bizos. The Mandelas launched a case against the directors of the business who aren’t family (in the blood-related sense of the word); they claimed that they were not appropriately elected for their position. Bizos retaliated by accusing Makaziwe of wanting to take $1.3 million without disclosing the reasons behind it.

The latest reports say that Mandela’s children plan to sue him for a share of his companies — Harmonieux Investment Holdings and Magnifique Investment holdings — while Mandela battles illness. They intend to reverse a court order that Mandela won in 2004. The order had banned Mandela’s former lawyer, Ismail Ayob, from making future sales in the company; he was accused of selling Mandela’s art without permission, reports The Independent.

This is only a small factor that contributes to the gradually diminishing Mandela brand. A new reality show in South Africa titled Being Mandela documents the apartheid fighter’s granddaughters, Zaziwe and Swati. “Mandela went to jail for 27 years so that we can have reality shows,” a disapproving Mail and Guardian columnist laments on Twitter.

Mandela’s second wife* is also tarnishing the now-questionable reputation of the respected Mandela name. Lawyers are accusing Winnie Madikizela-Mandela* for owing nearly $5,000 in tuition for her grand-niece’s private school. In attempt to free Madikizela of her debt, the police tried to enter her property to sell off her art pieces from her auction. She refused to allow the officers inside.

While the Mandela brand is becoming spotty, the family’s newest business venture might be its redeeming feature. Launched last February, Makaziwe and Tukwini Mandela founded “The House of Mandela” which is their new wine company. Tukwini insists that some of the proceeds will be donated to charity.


*Mandela’s current wife is Graca Machel, who has been expressing her gratitude for the well wishes that have poured in from around the world.

*Madikizela is Winnie’s surname; she has been visiting Nelson Mandela in Pretoria Hospital for support.

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