JOHANNESBURG, South Africa — President Jacob Zuma and Nobel laureate Desmond Tutu voiced the dismay of fellow South Africans on Friday when they called on the family of Nelson Mandela to stop their acrimonious public row.
Tutu, former Anglican archbishop of Cape Town who often serves as the nation's conscience, said the squabble tarnished Mandela's name. Zuma's spokesman, Mac Maharaj, called the spat regrettable.
Tutu made an impassioned call on family members to be less selfish and to consider Mandela, who lies in critical condition on life support in a Pretoria hospital.
"Please, please, please may we think not only of ourselves. It's almost like spitting in Madiba's face," he said in a statement, referring to Mandela by his clan name.
This past week has seen extraordinary public skirmishing among members of the family.
A faction led by Mandela's oldest daughter, Makaziwe Mandela-Amuah, accused one of his grandsons of stealing the bodies of Nelson Mandela's children and reburying them in the grandson's own village to ensure the ex-leader would be buried there as well — a bid, they said, to make money off of tourism. With a court order, they got the remains returned to the former president's home village.
The grandson, Mandla Mandela, in turn accused the opposing faction of greed and exposed a series of grubby sexual scandals, and advised his aunt to busy herself with the problems of her husband's family and keep out of Mandela affairs.