WASHINGTON – Today, Congresswoman Maxine Waters (CA-43), Chairwoman of the House Financial Services Committee, released a statement upon learning of the death of Zindzi Mandela in a hospital in Johannesburg, South Africa:
“I am deeply saddened to learn of the death of Zindzi Mandela. Zindzi was the beloved daughter of anti-apartheid activists, President Nelson Mandela and Winnie Mandela, as well as an author, a diplomat, and a dedicated political activist like her parents before her.
“Zindzi Mandela was only 18 months old when her father was sent to prison by South Africa’s apartheid government. She endured years of harassment and intimidation as she was growing up, while her father remained in prison on Robben Island during the height of the struggle to end apartheid. Yet, through her own strength and courage, she grew to become a poet, a leader, and an advocate for social justice in her own right. When then-President PW Botha offered to release Nelson Mandela from prison with unacceptable conditions, it was Zindzi who read aloud her father’s rejection of the offer at a public meeting in February of 1985.
“Once the racist system of apartheid was abolished, Zindzi Mandela went on to serve as the First Lady of South Africa from 1996 to 1998, during her father’s historic tenure as South Africa’s first black president. She continued to advocate for social justice and went on to serve her country as South Africa’s ambassador to Denmark from 2015 until her unfortunate death.
“My heart goes out to her husband, her four children, the entire Mandela family, and the people of South Africa, who have lost another of their brave heroines on this tragic day. I hope their memories of Zindzi’s life of activism, commitment, and service will bring them comfort at this difficult time.”
Congresswoman Maxine Waters was a leader in the struggle to end apartheid in the United States and a friend to the Mandela family. As a member of the California State Assembly, she fought for the passage of Assembly Bill 134, which forced California to divest $12 billion in state pension funds tied to the apartheid regime in South Africa. In 1990, she chaired the committee in Los Angles that brought over 90,000 people together in the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum to welcome Nelson Mandela into the United States, and she traveled with the official United States delegation to South Africa in 1994 to attend his inauguration as President of South Africa. In 1998, she welcomed President Mandela to the United States once again, this time to receive the U.S. Congressional Gold Medal. In honor of his 95th birthday in 2013, she organized an event called the “Celebration of the Life, Legacy and Values of Nelson R. Mandela” in Emancipation Hall of the United States Capitol Visitor’s Center.