Winnie’s legacy in limbo

2018-04-15 06:02
A small empty rondavel serves as Madikizela-Mandela’s heritage site

A small empty rondavel serves as Madikizela-Mandela’s heritage site

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Two legacy projects in the Eastern Cape for struggle icon Winnie Madikizela-Mandela remain in limbo – just like the proposed Brandfort Museum in Free State.

Last year City Press reported plans to build a museum in her birthplace Mbhongweni village and to refurbish the Ludeke Methodist Church where she and Nelson Mandela were married.

The two sites were identified by the National Heritage Council (NHC) as key “assets” on the OR Tambo liberation route.

But this week there was still no clarity about when work would begin. The NHC says it has assessed and graded the sites but is still waiting for money from the department of arts and culture.

In March last year NHC chief executive Sonwabile Mancotywa said the council planned to restore the sites and launch them in September 2017 to coincide with Madikizela-Mandela’s birthday celebrations. There were also discussions with the Walter Sisulu University to bestow an honorary doctorate on Madikizela-Mandela for her work in the struggle and for being the first qualified black social worker.

But in Mbhongweni village only a small, empty rondavel represents what was supposed to be a heritage site.

This week Mancotywa said infrastructure was not the NHC’s mandate and it depended on funding from the department. Eastern Cape arts and culture spokesperson Andile Nduna said there was no funding for the projects at the moment.

Mancotywa said R1.8bn was needed to restore 400 liberation route heritage sites across the country which are in a state of disrepair.

“We are actually looking now at the deadline of August to ensure that the declaration process is finished. We are on track to ensure that those stages of assessment and site grading and declaration are finished,” Mancotywa said.

He said if he were the Eastern Cape premier he would make this a priority because of the growth and development opportunity it poses.

“So I don’t understand, for instance, when a Free State municipality says it can’t do anything about Brandfort, because this is a strategic asset of the province,” he said.

Mancotywa said the NHC’s role was to “preserve heritage authenticity” and part of its plan in Mbhongweni was to build an interpretation centre and museum. At the church in Ludeke a conference centre and wedding venue were planned.

“We hope these will stimulate the rural economy,” he said.

In his address at Madikizela-Mandela’s official provincial memorial in Mbizana on Tuesday, her nephew, Thembalani Madikizela, said the family was anxious that these developments would still take place after her death.

Mancotywa said Madikizela-Mandela was going to be honoured at a graduation ceremony at Walter Sisulu University next month.

“I had already discussed that with her. I was meant to accompany her in May. She had already accepted. I hope the university will still do that posthumously,” he said.

Walter Sisulu University spokesperson Yonelwa Tukwayo confirmed this. “The shocking news comes just a month before the university graduation ceremonies when she was to be conferred an honorary doctoral degree in social science.

“The university will confer the honorary social science degree posthumously later in the year to allow the family time to grieve,” she said.

Read more on:    winnie ­madikizela-mandela

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