Mandela leaves at least US$4 mln in last will

JOHANNESBURG: Nelson Mandela left an estate of at least US$4.1 million, according to details of his final will and testament released Monday, amid a very public family feud over his legacy.

The wife of South Africa’s first black president is entitled to half of his estate, with the rest shared out among various family members, personal staff, schools and the ruling ANC.

The will was read out two months after the death in December of the anti-apartheid icon at the age of 95.

Executor Dikgang Moseneke, the deputy head of South Africa’s Constitutional Court, said the reading had been “charged with emotion” but no one had yet contested it.

Lawyers for Mandela revealed that his third wife Graca Machel would likely waive her right to 50 per cent of the estate, settling for four properties in her native Mozambique as well as cars, art work, jewellery and other assets.

His estranged second wife Winnie Madikizela-Mandela was not named as a beneficiary in a summary of the will.

Royalties from his books and other projects, as well as his homes, will be split between family members, who have long bickered over the spoils of his legacy.

Mandela’s upscale home in Houghton, Johannesburg where he died on Dec 5 will be used by the family of his deceased son Makgatho – including grandson and local clan chief Mandla Mandela.

“It is my wish that it should also serve as a place of gathering of the Mandela and Machel family in order to maintain its unity long after death,” the former elder statesman wrote.

Even before his death, Mandela’s children and grandchildren frequently clashed over who leads the family and who should benefit from his investments.

Several have already put the Mandela brand behind commercial projects including wine, clothing, artwork, a social network and a reality television show.

According to the will, which was first written in 2004, Mandela’s children each received US$300,000 in loans during his lifetime and will have the debt scrapped if it has not been repaid.

Mandela’s other bequests reflected his political life and his work championing education.

“He wanted to make it clear that what he believed in his life, or during his life, was transmitted to the country if not the world at large,” said George Bizos, one of the executors who also represented Mandela at his treason trial.

Mandela gave around US$4,500 each to members of staff, including long-time personal aide Zelda la Grange. The will also provides around US$9,000 each for Wits and Fort Hare universities in South Africa, and the same amount to three other schools.

The African National Congress, which Mandela led to victory in the first democratic elections in 1994, could receive between 10 and 30 percent of his royalties.

The cash will be used specifically to promote “policies and principles of reconciliation amongst the people of South Africa”.

The ANC – which is struggling amid allegations of corruption and incompetence – welcomed the news as a sign of Mandela’s “unwavering love for his people and their organisation, the ANC”. — AFP

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