Winnie Madikizela-Mandela: We should have done better after apartheid

2013-10-11 10:06

ANC stalwart Winnie Madikizela-Mandela says transforming the country is more difficult than the fight against apartheid.

Madikizela-Mandela said “flaring protests” and events such as the Marikana tragedy pointed to the difficulties of bringing society back to normality after apartheid.

Speaking at the launch of the Behind the Faces project to encourage women to tell their stories at Constitutional Hill last night, she told her granddaughter Swati Dlamini and the audience that her generation of leaders could have done better in the past 20 years to return society to its values.

Dlamini was interviewing Madikizela-Mandela about her prison diary, 491 Days: Prisoner Number 1323/69, and her experiences under apartheid as a parent.

“I cannot describe to you how it felt to be away from your children. Millions of other men and women lived that kind of life. We got so used to that abnormal society that abnormal became normal and normal became abnormal,” she said.

Madikizela-Mandela said the consequences of apartheid lingered on today, but “we should have done better” to return society to proper societal values.

A lot had been done to reverse the effects of apartheid, she said.

But she said there were things for which current leaders can no longer blame apartheid.

“Your grandfather (Nelson Mandela) in one of the speeches that are not quoted very often said that if the ANC behaves like apartheid in later years, do what we did to apartheid to the ANC.

“We cannot pretend we do not see the problems of today. We cannot pretend we do not read about corruption every day. We cannot pretend we have done the best for the youth of this country. Your unemployment, the fact that we have not provided you with that better life we promised you in 1994, is a problem for the country.

“We cannot pretend that we have given you jobs, because we are struggling to do so. And we cannot pretend you are not saying to us we made promises from 1994 and we are not fulfilling them,” she said.

“We have made tremendous strides, we are politically free, we have freedom of speech, and we have passed a lot of laws that have got rid of apartheid.

“We cannot continue blaming apartheid if today we read in the media that in education we have underspent, there are mud schools all over the country.”

She said when she was heading Tokyo Sexwale’s task team on sanitation she found that there were houses without toilets and toilets without houses.

Madikizela-Mandela said it was the youth’s responsibility to challenge those in government to ask questions about government underspending and why books were being thrown into rivers, in an apparent reference to the Limpopo textbooks saga.

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