Parliament pays tribute to Winnie Madikizela-Mandela

2018-05-03 20:42
Winnie Madikizela-Mandela. (Gallo)

Winnie Madikizela-Mandela. (Gallo)

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Parliament on Thursday paid tribute to late struggle icon Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, herself an MP in the National Assembly for many years.

In a joint sitting, MPs from both houses of Parliament praised their former colleague, who died a month ago on April 2 at the age of 81 after a long illness.

Also present were members of Madikizela-Mandela's family who sat in the public gallery, clad in black as their mourning period continues.

"It is right that we stand here today and remember this daughter of South Africa and the world," said National Council of Provinces chairperson Thandi Modise.

"Her life, her trials, her tribulations, her few moments of joy, track what we went through as a nation."

South Africans must remember the "huge" contribution she made, Modise said.

'A practical person'

DA MP Charles Motau recounted his early impressions of Madikizela-Mandela while he was a journalist in the 1980s.

After a massacre in Mamelodi in 1985 that left 13 people dead, he and three colleagues had covered the memorial, where Madikizela-Mandela calmed the angry, mourning crowd, telling them to pray and not seek revenge.

The EFF reiterated its call for Cape Town International Airport to be renamed Nomzamo Winifred Madikizela-Mandela International Airport.

"In her passing, Mama Winnie is resting in perfect revolutionary peace. Mama Winnie was a practical person who offered practical solutions to the communities in dire need at all times. We have lost a heroine," said EFF MP Sophie Thembekwayo.

She encouraged the EFF and gave its leaders guidance when they formed their new party in 2013, Thembekwayo said.

IFP chief whip Narend Singh said Madikizela-Mandela was defined by her courage and resilience.

"She was not merely the wife of Nelson Mandela. She was a freedom fighter in her own right, with strong convictions that she voiced fearlessly."

Standing on the shoulders of a giantess

UDM deputy president Nqabayomzi Kwankwa said the party was "flabbergasted" by the attacks on Madikizela-Mandela's legacy following her death.

"To reduce her legacy to her mistakes, understands neither the dangers of the struggle for freedom, nor the monumental sacrifice on which our pedestal of hope is premised."

It would be a sad indictment of society, if her passing was used to divide the nation she fought to unite, he said.

"We owe it to the youth of this country and future generations to tell an objective account of Mama Winnie's contribution to our struggle for liberation that is free of distortions."

Higher Education Minister Naledi Pandor closed the tribute.

She said Madikizela-Mandela would expect them as public representatives to live their daily lives making a difference to the lives of their people, not "hurling insults at each other".

"Given the massive contribution she made, what she has left us with is a giantess, on whose shoulders we stand.

"Since she gave us this advantage, what use do we make of this higher reach?

"We thank you and express our deepest condolences to all the family."

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