JOHANNESBURG (AP) — Tis the season to be jolly — jolly critical, that is — in the South African city of Cape Town.
The mayor, Patricia de Lille, has been criticized by political opponents for encouraging people to mark the holiday season by writing personal messages to Nelson Mandela, the former South African president. The city is collecting the messages at a civic center exhibition honoring 95-year-old Mandela, who is critically ill, and plans to deliver them to the anti-apartheid leader in three weeks.
A labor group with links to the ruling African National Congress, which Mandela used to lead, said de Lille is trying to gain support by associating her opposition party, the Democratic Alliance, with the revered Mandela.
The Congress of South African Trade Unions accused de Lille of engaging in “ridiculous gimmicks” and said she had neglected the needy in Cape Town.
“Instead of trying to get standing through linking herself with Mandela, she should actually try doing good for the poor for once,” read a statement released by the labor group’s branch in Western Cape province, which includes Cape Town.
Solly Malatsi, spokesman for de Lille, pushed back, saying the criticism is “in stark contrast to the values of reconciliation and nation-building that Madiba taught us through his leadership.”
It is not the first quarrel over the legacy of Mandela, also known by his clan name Madiba.