The world pays tribute to Mandela (slideshow)
As South Africans come to terms with the loss of former president Nelson Mandela, the rest of the world bids farewell to Madiba.
Pimples: Saving Madiba's rabbit (video)
Gwede, Mac and Blade try their best to stop the rabbit from whispering in Mandela's ear. But the elusive animal has some tricks up its sleeve.
Zapiro's best Madiba cartoons (slideshow)
From his toughest moments to his most triumphant, Madiba has been an inspiration. Here are some of our favourite Zapiro cartoons about him from 1994 to 2013.
Mandela: SA's greatest son laid to rest (slideshow)
The world watched as Nelson Mandela was finally laid to rest in his hometown of Qunu following a dignified and moving funeral ceremony on Sunday.
Moments after the six o'clock news on May 1, Jakes Gerwel's phone rang. As always, the deliberate voice at the other end of the line inquired after the health of Gerwel's wife and family, before asking whether the Director General of the President's Office had watched the news.
He had not. The voice at the end of the line was Gerwel's boss, President Nelson Mandela. He was calling from KwaZulu/Natal, where, according to the news, he had been forced to flee the Umlazi stadium after threatening to cut off funds to the province.
Gerwel, like all Mandela's staff, knew that the President was planning to use his KwaZulu/Natal trip to send a very strong signal to the Inkatha Freedom Party. But no-one in his office -- not Gerwel, not his head of communications Joel Netshitenzhe, not his legal advisor Fink Haysom, and not his spokesperson Parks Mankahlana -- knew that he was going to threaten to withdraw funding in what would become a major constitutional issue.
Immediately following the President's call to Gerwel, the Office of the President swung into gear. The next day, the President was scheduled to be in parliament, leading the Budget debate. How would the other parties respond? Should the president change his speech? Was "damage control"
Haysom dug his head into the constitution to ascertain whether, in fact, the president's remarks were unconstitutional. And Netshitenzhe did his own research to find out whether the news reports of the event had been accurate. One of the things he did was to transcribe statements made in Mandela's peculiar mix of Xhosa and
"It might have appeared to be off the cuff, but it was clearly well-considered," he says. "With the president you never need to struggle to find the full stops: every sentence exists in totality as a completed thought. It is rare that the president just speaks because ideas have just come to him. He is very conscious of the impact of his words. His is not an impulsive personality."
Mandela's message to his staff was clear: the violence surrounding the Umlazi meeting in which he had made his statement had only stiffened his resolve. He would not retract. By Tuesday morning, while the president was in one-on-one meetings with other party leaders, his staff met and came up with a strategy: Gerwel and Haysom would hold a briefing in which they would, in Haysom's words, "place the whole thing in context".
Mandela, it was decided, would refer to the issue only in his closing speech the following day. Meanwhile, Mandela's communications staff would closely monitor the debate in parliament and Netshitenzhe -- Mandela's chief speechwriter -- would have a revised skeleton ready for him to look at by Wednesday morning.
That afternoon, a final version of the speech was forged through the passing of notes between Mandela in parliament and Netshitenzhe, a few hundred metres away, in his second- floor Tuynhuys office. In the final event, Mandela extemporised greatly, only using the prepared speech as a guide.
Mandela was, over the following few days, lambasted both in Parliament and in the media for his heavy-handedness. But he acheived his desired effect, which was to highlight the fact that political violence has not abated in
The brouhaha, and the way it was managed, provides many insights into the nature of the presidency, an institution that has been developed as much by its peculiar constitutional position (something between the head-of- government that sits in 10 Downing Street and head-of-state that sits at The White House) as by the personality and the status of the man who occupies it.
Dave Steward, FW de Klerk's director general and Gerwel's predecessor in the Tuynhuys, notes that the while PW Botha's was "an imperial presidency, in which the president coccooned himself in the Tuynhuys, surrounded by his own advisors and dictating policy to the Cabinet", De Klerk's approach was more technocratic: "The staff of his office shrunk from 500 to just over a hundred. De Klerk re- established the Cabinet as the source of power, and turned the Tuynhuys into an administrative office."
What, then, is the role of the Office of the President now? Clearly, the Government of National Unity governs through the Cabinet. And yet Mandela, according to the constitution, has status and responsibility far greater than that of a prime minister. He is expected to play a strong unifying role: he, really, is the glue that holds the whole thing together.
And so the presidency is more, well, presidential. The three most important members of the Office of the President -- Gerwel, Netshitenzhe and Haysom -- may well be technocrats, but they are also important liberation- movement political personalities and decision-makers. Their growing influence was seen in the fact that Gerwel and Haysom held a media briefing on Mandela's KwaZulu/Natal remarks and on the Boesak affair.
And yet they by no means run the country the way Bill Clinton's White House staff does the United States. There is, in the words of Water Affairs and Forestry Minister Kader Asmal, "no kitchen cabinet; no inner-sanctum of confidantes through which Mandela rules".
You will, in fact, be hard-pressed to find anyone who will admit to being an advisor to the president. He is, says one of his senior advisors, "unadvisable".
Mandela is, ultimately, a party man. And so, if he has a brains trust, it is the party's 17-member National Working Committee (NWC). Particularly given the fact that all those in Mandela's coalition cabinet are not of his choosing, it is in the NWC, more than anywhere else, that this country's future is determined.
Here are gathered all those the president relies on most heavily: Deputy-President Thabo Mbeki (who is always the president's first port of call when he consults); ANC officials Cyril Ramaphosa and Cheryl Carolus; Cabinet members Mac Maharaj and Pallo Jordan; parliamentarians Gill Marcus and Saki Macozoma; Speaker Frene Ginwala.
Outside of the NWC there is Walter Sisulu, who Mandela sees at least once a week and to whom he turns with the most serious issues. Both in the Cabinet and in the NWC, Mandela conducts things through a sometimes paradoxical combination of consultative democracy and benevolent rigidity.
In Cabinet, particularly, he has taken a back seat, allowing Deputy Presidents Thabo Mbeki and De Klerk to chair things, and only intervening when he feels it neccessary. According to Gerwel, Mandela has isolated three areas in which he feels compelled to govern in a more direct way: national unity, the stability of the state, and the delivery of the Reconstruction and Development Programme. For this reason, Safety and Security Minister Sydney Mufamadi and RDP czar Jay Naidoo tend to spend more time with him that most other ministers. When there is a direct personal intervention by the president, it is always in one of these three areas.
Asmal notes that "his is not an imperial presidency. He does not invoke majesty to get his way." The only time he pulled rank and insisted on reversing a cabinet decision during his first year in office was when Sharpeville Day was not included in the list of public holidays.
His style, in cabinet, is to sit back and listen -- as he is doing currently over the Corvettes dispute. "Both sides think they have won him over," says a leader of the anti- warships lobby. "But he has refused to utter a single pronouncement." He holds his fire, but he has no insecurity about asserting his authority, and he is a masterful political game-player. When he wants a fight he will spoil for it, as he did with De Klerk in January.
He is also masterful at pulling people into line through a combination of severity and patronage. The latest example, say cabinet insiders, is the skillful way he has co-opted IFP Correctional Services Minister Sipho Mzimela, renowned for his disruptiveness and war-talk. "The first thing he did," says a confidante, "was call Sipho in to account for himself -- something he seldom does with his ANC ministers. Then he found out what Sipho's problems were in his department, and used his power to help expedite action, so now Sipho looks good. Surprise surprise, Sipho is now on
Even if Mandela can sometimes be unpredictable and "unadvisable" , he does consult -- some would say excessively. "The telephone is not the most unused instrument in his home," laughs Gerwel; and Cabinet members are getting used to 5am calls. But he is master of his own opinion. He makes up his own mind. And he sticks to it.
Nonetheless, he does accede to majority will in his party. But, notes Mac Maharaj, "only after lengthy debate. And even then, he will end by saying: 'Well, you young boys have made your decision and I will adhere to it.' There will be a sigh of relief. Then he will add: 'But you are wrong and I am right.'"
He is notoriously obstinate. His parliamentary councillor and long-time friend Ahmed Kathrada remembers a story from prison days: "Mandela wanted to take a more radical stance against the authorities. We all disagreed with him, but he persisted. He took it to the general cells and they disagreed too. One chap even started a fast to the death to try to dissuade him. Only then did he capitulate."
Haysom notes that while it might sometimes irk people that the president is not more tightly stage-managed, "I have come to see that people trust him and believe in him because what he says comes from the heart and from innate political judgment and not from an advisor. He might not always take advice, but that, in a way, gives him the direct link to the people that allows him to govern with such authority."