Winnie Madikizela-Mandela gave the ANC her life and commitment and “she never betrayed the struggle and revolution”, ANC deputy secretary-general Jessie Duarte has said.
Duarte, addressing the crowd at a government memorial service on Wednesday at the Orlando Stadium in Soweto, said that in honour of Madikizela-Mandela the ANC had to return the land to the people – it was not negotiable.
“It must happen and it will happen just like free education is happening.”
She said the late ANC stalwart “understood like no other person that inequality will only grow bigger as democracy deepened”.
“Winnie inspired a whole generation of younger women. There is no looking back; there is only looking forward for the women of SA. With our doeks we will liberate all the women of this country.”
Duarte said radical economic transformation was also inevitable and “here to stay” and both black and white South Africans have to work together to make it happen.
Meanwhile, Deputy President David Mabuza said Madikizela-Mandela valued collective leadership and stood for truth as it related to the betterment of the lives of South Africans.
Mabuza said the late struggle stalwart “is a part of leaders that frowned upon personality cults and the idolisation of individuals”.
“She was always more about the ‘we’ than about the ‘I’.”
Mabuza said even when she was no longer in government “she understood the challenges facing the ANC and government [and] she always sought to find solutions to unite all our people and their organisation.”
Mabuza said “Mama Winnie” could easily do so because she was not known to speak behind her comrades.
“If she did not agree with you she never hesitated to correct you. Many leaders in the ANC have stories of how Mama Winnie warmly embraced them and kissed them in public while she admonished them in private.”
“She spoke less about ‘my children’ and more about ‘our children’. And the enemy perfectly understood what she meant when she said ‘my people’.”
He said Madikizela-Mandela was “a unifier and a visionary of note”.
“The lasting moment we will ever build for Mama Winnie, is for all South Africans to unite behind the vision of a united, non-racial, non-sexist, just and prosperous society,” Mabuza said.
The ANC would best follow in her footsteps by relentlessly tackling poverty, reducing inequality, and selflessly serving the poor, he added.
The Pan Africanist Congress’ (PAC) Narius Moloto said Madikizela-Mandela was “a great hero of the struggle and an undisputed leader in difficult times”.
“It was Mama who kept on the torch in this country. She gave the ANC competitive advantage over others. She continued to behave as if the ANC was not banned. She organised and encouraged the youth.”
Moloto said Madikizela-Mandela always took the side of the communities when the police harassed them. “So she is an unquestionable icon of the struggle for liberation.”
He said the PAC shared ancestors with the ANC “because we were there when it was formed”.
He said “the people can only get their dignity back when the land is restored. The agenda of liberation in this country is not yet finished. Freedom is complete when the land is returned to original holders who are the African people”.
Moloto said the PAC will work with the ANC, other political parties and churches in restoring the social dignity and economic well-being of the people.
Azapo’s Strike Thokoane said his party served with Madikizela-Mandela.
“We were together in trenches, in prison and in communities with comrade Winnie. That qualifies us to come here and pay tribute.”
Thokoane said that when the black consciousness movement was formed in the early 1960s they were young people who also needed among themselves the elderly because there were “limitations in taking our message to the communities”.
He said that among the people Azapo reached out to was Madikizela-Mandela.
“Winnie worked with us and did not look at the differences in ideology.”
He said that when Madikizela-Mandela was banished in Brandfort “it is the leadership of Azapo that went there to empathise and be with her in the struggle”.
“We really want to appreciate the contribution she made to our revolution. 1994 happened and a lot of people arrived, but Azapo and Winnie did not arrive,” said Thokoane, referring to the return of exiled liberation fighters after democracy.
“Sometimes she would say we have been sold out and Azapo will be happy,” he said.
IFP leader Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi compared Madikizela-Mandela to “a big tree (that) has fallen and our nation mourns”.
Winnie was remembered all over the world as the “Mother of the Nation”.
Her children were orphaned when their mother and father were still alive, said Buthelezi.
“It is remarkable the see the women that Winnie’s daughters have become despite it all. They are so like her in courage and resilience.
“We will miss her in time to come, but the deeper sorrow is left for her family. May you find strength in the words of admiration coming from all corners of the world for your beloved mother.”