Differences aside to celebrate Ma Winnie

2016-09-18 08:24

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ICYMI: The Life and Times of Winnie Madikizela-Mandela

2016-09-16 10:17

Winnie Madikizela-Mandela turns 80 later this month - and celebrations are already underway.WATCH

This week South Africa’s most diverse political leaders united in a soft-lit room at Cape Town’s five star Mount Nelson hotel, where they snacked on asparagus, rack of lamb and grapefruit sorbet as sparkling wine flowed.

On Wednesday, ANC deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa, EFF leader Julius Malema, Advocate Dali Mpofu of the EFF, and DA Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille, put their differences aside to celebrate the 80th birthday of activist Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, who glowed in a silk white dress.

“As much as Julius and I disagree on many things,” Ramaphosa told the well-heeled guests. “This evening, we do agree on one thing, which is Ma Winnie’s lasting beauty.”

Ramaphosa and Mpofu have had notable run-ins over the Marikana massacre, but mingled amicably at the party.

Said Ramaphosa: “Thank you for bringing everyone together as you’ve always done, Ma Winnie. Various people in the ANC, Patricia, Julius, and Dali, wow!”

Ramaphosa described Madikizela-Mandela as a diamond – “built to last, and built to shine, never to break. She displays complexity strength and beauty,” he said.

Madikizela-Mandela’s daughter Zindzi Mandela had the crowd in stitches with anecdotes about her mother.

She relayed how Madikizela-Mandela caused her, Zindzi, to be two hours late for her own wedding as Madikizela-Mandela insisted on watering the garden before they could go to the church.

“My father (former president Nelson Mandela) was most upset. He said, ‘this is totally unacceptable, totally unacceptable!’”

Malema warned that Madikizela-Mandela’s legacy should not be allowed to wane: “There’s no airport called Winnie Mandela airport, no university. Some wish her legacy would disappear, we must not let this happen.”

The talking point of the evening was Malema’s excellent physical shape.

Indeed, the commander in chief told journalists the secret to his new lean frame is a strict dietary and exercise regime: he’s been cutting out carbs, sugar and alcohol, and has taken up running.

Patricia de Lille, in a trademark pant suit ensemble, said: “I feel there’s one thing no one can take away from Ma Winnie. She gave up her own freedom to fight for ours.”

President Jacob Zuma was absent but First Lady Bongi Ngema-Zuma represented in a glittering deep violet gown.

Also among the A-list guests was Minister of Home Affairs Malusi Gigaba, who was at the centre of a social media storm this week after he refused homophobic pastor Steven Anderson access to South Africa on Tuesday.

When asked about the backlash, Gigaba smiled broadly:

“Thank goodness for the block button on Twitter!”

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