By Razeen Gutta
The Confederation of African Football (CAF) have launched an investigation into remarks made by Zwelivelile Mandela, the grandson of Nelson Mandela, at the opening ceremony of the African Nations Championship (CHAN) in Algeria.
“The last colony of Africa, Western Sahara. Let us fight to free Western Sahara from oppression,” Mandela said in his speech. These remarks have now caused a major political row.
Western Sahara has been the subject of a long-running territorial dispute between its indigenous Saharawi people and Morocco. The Saharawis in turn have the support of Algeria.
This led to the two nations cutting diplomatic ties in 2021. With the tournament taking place in Algeria, Mandela’s comments have had political repercussions.
The Moroccan football federation sent CAF a protest letter in which they claimed that the statement on Western Sahara had no link to the tournament or to football in general; and that it was in fact targeting Morocco as a country.
On Tuesday, a group of Moroccan fans protested Mandela’s remarks at a league game in their country. They held up a banner that read: “Little Mandela, the last colony in Africa is Orania.”
Orania is an Afrikaner separatist area founded by rightwingers in 1991.
In response to the events that occurred, CAF launched their investigation, calling themselves a “politically neutral organisation”.
“These political statements are not the statements of CAF and do not reflect the views or opinions of CAF as a politically neutral organisation,” the continent’s football governing body said in a statement.
Pictured above: Zwelivelile Mandela
Image source: @palmstrategic1