Chief Mandla Mandela, grandson of former President Nelson Mandela, has shot down claims by former President Jacob Zuma that he travelled to Qatar and engaged in clandestine efforts to end Zuma’s friendly ties with the ruler of the oil-rich Gulf kingdom.

Mandela said yesterday that the claims contained in 23 pages of speaking notes that Zuma used in his meeting with the ANC’s Top Six early last month were simply not based on fact, notes a report in The Star.

In the notes, Zuma tells the Top Six he has no faith in the party to help him fight the Zondo Commission, and of his perceived persecution as some of his comrades were backstabbing him.

He claimed that the extent of conniving against him even saw Inkosi Mandla Mandela, of Mvezo, going to Qatar to plead with Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, the emir (ruler), to dump him.

‘I must also add, comrades, that some of you have followed me abroad to talk to people and media and my friends that I know, to plead with them that they must not support me. And some of those are my friends, and they have told me. That proved the point that it is not an accidental behaviour. Just to quote one, so that you don’t say I am just making allegations for sweet nothing.

‘I went to Qatar and the first issue my friend, the emir, ... told me that your country has been sending messages to say that I must not meet. And that very morning, Mr Mandla Mandela was there, having been given a special jet to fly there to try to stop the emir from meeting with me. It came from his mouth, not me,’ Zuma claimed in the notes.

But Inkosi Mandela says it’s all a big lie, according to the report in The Star.

‘We respond to allegations in the media this morning and reiterate that the ANC leadership is best placed to deal with the fact and fiction of the leaked Zuma papers. It is our considered view that while this issue may be important to some, we must as an organisation not be distracted from our core mandate of serving the people of South Africa. For the record, we wish to clarify the following: we travelled to Qatar on the invitation of the South African embassy as guest of honour at the Heritage Day celebrations in September 2018. This was a long-standing invitation and it was purely coincidental that former President JG Zuma arrived in Qatar at the same time.’

He added: ‘Our courtesy visit to the emir was exactly that, a courtesy visit, and conducted in the presence of officials and there were no nefarious intentions or hidden agendas at play.’

To strengthen his view, Mandela produced his flight ticket which shows that, contrary to Zuma’s claim that he flew in a special jet, he used a Qatar Airways flight.

Full report in The Star (subscription needed)

Zuma speaking notes