It is sad when a party loses talented people. It is sadder when one has worked for decades to build a party to see it teetering on the brink of a major setback.
Mostly sunny. Mild.
ANC secretary general, Ace Magashule (File)
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One of the things I have learnt through
painful experience is how opportunistic people can be around a famous person's
death. Everyone wants to be seen and wants to claim to have been the closest of
those who were close to the person that passed.
Winnie Madikizela-Mandela's death was never
going to be any different. Despite being ill for a while it seems she suddenly
took a turn for the worse and unlike with Madiba's death, the media, ANC and
country were unprepared.
After the news leaked that Ma Winnie had
passed on, a press conference was hastily convened at the Netcare hospital
where she had died. Ministers Jeff Radebe and Gwede Mantashe spoke on behalf of
the ANC. A representative of the family and a Methodist bishop, who had
apparently prayed with her that morning, also said a few words.
After the bishop spoke, someone
from the ANC chaplaincy jumped up to make the point that "Mama Winnie was
broader than just the one denomination, the Methodist Church".
He emphasised that the Methodist church
would remain the "anchor church", but that "the interfaith,
interdenominational community of this country would also minister to the family"
and take part in her burial.
One has to ask why this was necessary. It
seems, as was the case after Madiba's death, that some in the religious community
want to make sure that they will also take center stage during the public
remembrance and last rites of Mama Winnie. Not very Christian!
From a political point of view, some
interesting developments occurred later that afternoon. About an hour after the
Netcare press conference, the ANC national spokesperson, Pule Mabe, via the ANC
media office sent out a press alert. It read: "The Secretary General of the
African National Congress, Comrade Ace Magashule, will address the nation this
evening on the untimely passing of ANC Stalwart, Mama Winnie Nomzamo Madikizela
Mandela. The live broadcast will be carried on SABC channels at 19:00 this
seemed really bizarre. Why would Ace Magashule do a live address via the
national broadcaster, when we had not heard from the president? Although ministers
often rather pretentiously announce that they will be addressing the nation, the
live feed via the SABC usually indicates a matter of national importance and is
reserved for the president or someone very senior in government.
course, this was a matter of national importance and everyone, both locally and
abroad, was watching. So why had we not heard from the president of the
ANC and South Africa, yet Magashule, together with his buddy Mabe, announces that
he will address the nation?
We waited with bated breaths to hear what Ace had to say.
minutes before 19:00 and without any media alerts, President Cyril Ramaphosa
came on air. I doubt very much that
this was a coincidence. What the reason for the timing might have been,
Magashule was totally upstaged.
course, that did not deter him. Mabe sent out another press alert at 19:10 to
say that Magashule will be addressing the nation at 19:00 (it was now 10
minutes past the time) and that it will be carried by the SABC.
few minutes later the SABC anchors announced that they will be speaking to "somebody
from Bloemfontein who knows the Free State very well". The anchor welcomed
"the ANC's Ace Magashule" and on a split screen Magashule was seen
reading through his press statement, presumably for the first time.
when he was asked for his immediate thoughts and feelings about Mama Winnie's
passing he glanced only briefly at the camera. He then started to read the script
out loud. Five minutes into his statement the SABC started to show some visuals
of Winnie Mandela and when he finally finished, they thanked Magashule and cut
to something else.
It was impossible not to wonder what that
was all about, but whatever Magashule had tried to achieve had gone down like a
Just before 21:00 Ramaphosa
visited the Madikizela-Mandela house and addressed the media outside the house
afterwards. This time he was flanked by Mabe, who looked distinctly unhappy and
This might all just be a
product of a disorganised ANC and the inexperience of Mabe. But I somehow doubt
it. It seems far more likely that it was part of the continued factionalism
in the ANC and the continued attempts to undermine Ramaphosa.
Shamefully, it seems that those who "want
to take the ANC back" wanted to use Mama Winnie's death to take center
stage in the clamouring for power – something Mama Winnie would have hated.
And of course the two cherries on the
cake later that evening were Carl Niehaus who (sans camouflage) also rocked up
at Mama Winnie's house to say what a hero she was for "fighting the Boers",
and Nomvula Mokonyane who spoke of how she and Mama Winnie often spoke about
the "wrong things". Apparently they frequently talked about "how
other people were badly dressed, and (had) ugly make ups (sic) and handbags".
Hamba Kahle Mama Winnie Nomzamo Madikizela
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