‘ANC turned its back on Win­nie’

Strug­gle icon’s fu­neral a plat­form for apolo­gies


AS THE world paid homage to Win­nie Madik­ize­laman­dela yes­ter­day, lead­ers of po­lit­i­cal par­ties in South Africa tried to outsmart each other in pay­ing trib­ute to the lib­er­a­tion icon in what seemed an ap­par­ent jock­ey­ing for her legacy.

They tried to gain rel­e­vance and mileage out of the fu­neral of Madik­izela-man­dela, who died two weeks ago.

EFF leader Julius Malema ap­peared to live up to his self­styled im­age as the king maker, call­ing on the ANC to name Cape Town In­ter­na­tional Air­port after Madik­izela-man­dela.

He then tore into the ANC and lead­ers of other po­lit­i­cal for­ma­tions as he sought to re­mind them that they had turned their backs on the woman dubbed the “Mother of the Na­tion”.

The fire­brand EFF com­man­der-in-chief, who had a close re­la­tion­ship with Madik­izela-man­dela, fondly re­ferred to her as “mama” dur­ing his ad­dress. Their bond stretches back to his days as the leader of the Congress of SA Stu­dents and sub­se­quently the ANC Youth League pres­i­dent.

Pulling no punches, Malema said in­di­vid­u­als who had stood against Madik­izela-man­dela in the early 1990s were now mourn­ing her death.

“Equally, Mama, some of those who sold you to the regime are here and are cry­ing louder than all of us who stood by you. The UDF is cry­ing croc­o­dile tears after dis­own­ing you at a crit­i­cal mo­ment hop­ing the regime will fin­ish off,” said Malema, ad­dress­ing thou­sands of mourn­ers at Or­lando Sta­dium in Soweto.

Malema was re­fer­ring to the time when Madik­izela-man­dela was ac­cused of the death of child activist Stom­pie Seipei. She was cleared of his death.

The fu­neral was at­tended by in­ter­na­tional dig­ni­taries, in­clud­ing Naomi Camp­bell and sev­eral heads of states. Malema re­minded the mourn­ers that Madik­izela-man­dela fought against apartheid fear­lessly.

“You fought for what you be­lieved was right, pos­sessed only by your love for our peo­ple and the restora­tion of their dig­nity. In this fight you were per­se­cuted by the apartheid regime and dis­owned by your own,” he said.

Not to be out­done, Pres­i­dent Cyril Ramaphosa an­nounced that Madik­izela-man­dela would be posthu­mously be­stowed with the ANC’S high­est hon­our. “I will make a pro­posal to the ANC na­tional ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee to be­stow on you its high­est hon­our, Isith­wa­landwe/ Sea­parankoe.” later

Ramaphosa con­ceded, while de­liv­er­ing his eu­logy, that the coun­try and his party had failed to hon­our and sup­port Madik­izela-man­dela while she was fac­ing a vi­cious “smear cam­paign” by apartheid agents and spies.

“She suf­fered alone,” Ramaphosa said. He said Maya An­gelo’s poem Still I Rise could have been writ­ten to de­scribe the life of Madik­izela-man­dela, as he read it out.

He de­scribed Madik­izela-man­dela’s re­silience at the height of the apartheid regime, de­cry­ing her pain as she held the fort when her for­mer hus­band Nel­son Man­dela and other ANC lead­ers were in prison and some in ex­ile.

‘’They sought to den­i­grate her with bit­ter and twisted lies, but still she rose. They wanted to see her bro­ken, with bowed head and low­ered eyes, and weak­ened by soul­ful cries, but still she rose,’’ he said.

Madik­izela-man­dela had been left to tend her own wounds for the rest of her life, said Ramaphosa.

“Left alone to fend for her­self only caused her more pain. But she touched our wounds all the time. When we lost our loved ones, when peo­ple were in pain, over­come with anger, prone to vi­o­lence, she came. “We did not do the same to her.” Ramaphosa told mourn­ers about the ANC top six’s first en­counter with her daugh­ter Ze­nani Man­dela-dlamini, fol­low­ing the con­fir­ma­tion of the death of their mother at Mil­park Hos­pi­tal in Joburg.

“Ze­nani’s tears re­vealed Mam’ Win­nie’s wounds,” Ramaphosa said.

Mean­while, ANC head of elec­tions Fik­ile Mbalula urged break­away EFF to “come back home” to the ANC, say­ing it had been Madik­izela-man­dela’s wish.

“It was Mama Win­nie’s wish for Malema and the EFF to come back to the ANC. We will con­tinue to beg them to come back home, Mama.”

Mbalula said he and other young peo­ple had felt the brunt of re­pres­sion un­der the apartheid regime, be­ing ar­rested as the youth in their teens.

“It was Mama Man­dela and oth­ers who were at the fore­front of ex­pos­ing that. Her love for young peo­ple of this coun­try must em­bolden us to work harder for jobs and ed­u­ca­tion,” he said.

ANC Women’s League pres­i­dent Batha­bile Dlamini said the women in the party had not done enough to uplift Madik­izela-man­dela.

“Mam’ Win­nie, we must con­fess we al­lowed pa­tri­archy to op­press you,” she said. – Ad­di­tional re­port­ing by Zin­tle Mahlati and ANA


Sis­ters Zindzi, left, and Ze­nani, right, at the podium, ap­pear on stage to pay trib­ute to their mother, strug­gle icon Win­nie Madik­izela-man­dela, back­drop, at her fu­neral at Or­lando Sta­dium in Soweto yes­ter­day. Madik­izela-man­dela died on April 2 at the age of 81.

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