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Mandela's Birthday clouded by leaked email from Winnie to ANC

7/12/2012, 12:49 p.m.

Jul. 10 (GIN) - As preparations get underway for the July 18th, 94th birthday of former president Nelson Mandela, hurt and angry feelings were expressed by Winnie Madikizela-Mandela who claimed 'shabby treatment' by the ruling ANC party.

The Mail & Guardian newspaper reported that Mrs. Madikizela-Mandela accused the ANC of disrespecting the Mandela family and of "never having any interest in celebrating Tata's (Mandela's) birthday except to gate crash on the family's arrangements."

President Jacob Zuma is expected to deliver a lecture on Mr. Mandela on Tuesday at the ANC centenary commemorations in Limpopo province. Winnie has reportedly rejected an invitation to attend.

"No one has cared to establish how we are doing as a family. It is quite clear that we do not matter at all, we only do when we have to be used for some agenda," she was quoted to say in an email purportedly sent to ANC spokesperson Jackson Mthembu. Further, she complained, neither Zuma nor spokesperson Mthembu visited her when she was in hospital, let alone called her to wish her a speedy recovery.

The email was sent to the Guardian by a dissident faction of the ANC. Neither the party nor Madikizela-Mandela's office denied its authenticity, though it could not be independently confirmed.

The 75-year-old, regarded as the "Mother of the Nation" by her supporters, is known to be at odds with President Zuma, and has publicly called for a change of leadership."

Meanwhile, Mandela's grandson Luvuyo Mandela said that he and his family will hand out blankets and plant trees on July 18, which was declared Mandela Day in 2009. People around the world are encouraged to devote some time to community service in his honor on the day. A birthday video has been released by his office and can be seen online at: http://www.youtube.com/watch v=mg_or0D4144&feature=player_embedded