TRIBUTE TO AN INDEFATIGABLE WARRIOR AND FEARLESS REVOLUTIONARY, COMRADE NOMZAMO WINIFRED MADIKIZELA-MANDELA

I am still numb due to the devastating news that my mother, comrade, mentor and leader is no more. As days go by I seem not to shake off this niggling feeling that it is just a dream as the larger-than-life Mama Winnie is one not to die. However, there is one part of me that also tells me that, in as much as she defied death on a number of occasions, she is also mortal. Still, the reality has not sunk and I am living with the hope that I will one more time see the smile on the glowing face of Mama Winnie and I will hear that infectious laughter of a loving mother and a gallant fighter for freedom and democracy.

I am shattered as I had always looked forward to one of those immemorial and priceless opportunity to draw from your well of wisdom and courage especially given the challenges that our movement, the African National Congress and our country are facing. Mama Winnie, you are one of a kind. A true revolutionary that stood steadfastly for justice, equality and freedom for all. You were forthright and principled. Whilst facing adversity, like a true lioness, you did not only stubbornly fended off attacks on your children (and these include some of us) but charged forward in pursuit of a better life for all our people. You epitomized selflessness as you would not mind putting your life on the line for the freedom of others.

Your motherly love and instincts were unmistakable as you would take care of not only your children but everyone who needed care as though they are children of your own. Indeed, you are a Baobab tree that provided protection from the scorching African sun and other unforgiving elements. Never one to retreat, you would confront the apartheid regime and its surrogates with an untold fearlessness and vigour and this is what inspired old and young to pick up the spear when liberation movements were banned, leaders detained or imprisoned or even forced into exile.

Whilst distressed, I take solace in the rich legacy you have left us. A legacy of selflessness, altruism and service to our people that we need to promote and preserve. You stood steadfast and your commitment and dedication to the struggle against the inhuman apartheid colonialism and for freedom and democracy was unshakeable. This is a characteristic that made you to survive persecution, detentions, banishment and even vilification.  You never retreated, you were never broken no matter how hard the apartheid regime tried to break your spirit and you knew no surrender as you led, from the front, battles against the racist police and army who at most times turned our townships and villages into military and police barracks. 

A community builder at heart, Mama Winnie was always on the look out for opportunities to develop her community. Adversity notwithstanding, you created an opportunity to uplift that community when you were banished to Brandfort. It is no coincidence that you studied social work as your life was about the welfare of your people. You served our people a social worker, albeit for a short while due to continued repression, with distinction. As fate would have it, you were drawn into active politics when it became almost impossible for you to continue practicing as a social worker due to apartheid police harassment.

Having cut her political teeth in women struggles against the repressive pass laws, Mama Winnie dedicated her entire life to the struggles against apartheid and for freedom and democracy. The more the repression, the more committed she became and the sentencing of Cde Nelson Mandela and other leaders to life imprisonment on Robben Island only served to sharpen her resolve to liberate her people. You became one of the most vociferous voice for the release of political prisoners hence the Release Mandela Campaign gained traction internationally to the point where the apartheid regime could not ignore the clamour for the release of Cde Madiba and other political prisoners.

 

Your fiery nature and unmistakable defiance in the face of repression angered the racist regime as their relentless efforts failed to crush your revolutionary spirit. It is not surprising that your modest Brandfort house was petrol bombed and no one has ever been arrested or even charged for that crime. You took this desperate attempt to cow you into submission in your strides hence you decided to come back home to Soweto in a courageous and open defiance to one of the most ruthless regime in history. Your defiance continued unabated as you ignored your banning order and spoke at public gatherings and to the international media and this galvanized our people into action against a system that the world declared a crime against humanity.

Your contribution to our liberation struggle continued as you led countless mass actions that led to our country becoming ungovernable and the apartheid system unworkable. Even beyond the democratic breakthrough in 1994 you continued to contribute towards the transformation of our country. With an incisive mind and brutal honesty, you spoke your mind having no regard to the consequences of your honesty and forthrightness. 

The outpouring of love that our country is demonstrating since your passing bears testimony to your selflessness and commitment to serving our people. Indeed, you loved your people and you were always there with us.  

Your life is and will remain an inspiration to all who are oppressed and deprived and to all who are opposed to oppression, injustice and deprivation. You are a symbol of the struggle against apartheid and all forms of racism an inequality; the gallant fighter against patriarchy and for equality and the hero of African liberation. We will miss you but we take solace in the legacy of love, giving and selfless service that you left. 

As we bid you farewell, we will remember your courageous and inspiring words when you said: “I shall never lose hope and my people shall never lose hope”. 

Indeed, Mama we shall never lose hope. We shall fight until all South Africans have a better life.

Lala ngoxolo qhawe la maqhawe!

Cde Paul Mashatile is the Treasurer General of the African National Congress

GIVING PEOPLE A VOICE OF THEIR OWN BECAME HER LIFE’S MISSION, PROFESSIONALLY AND POLITICALLY

On behalf of the African National Congress, I wish to convey once more my personal condolences and those of our glorious mvement to the family, friends and comrades of Mam Winnie.

We are here today to honour her as a humble, selfless and fearless human being whose simple service to society and care for others elevated her to an extraordinary national hero.

 A leader of our people and international icon whose impact and reach is reflected in the diversity of humanity who are in Orlando Stadium today.This is a fitting reflection of a national movement that evolved over time into a global struggle.

As the ANC, we are strengthened in this moment of loss by the outpouring of grief and support we have experienced across our country and around the world.

We are particularly touched by the response we have seen from young women in our country; young women who are clearly picking up the revolutionary spear with a commitment that mirrors that of Mam Winnie to keep building a better life and a better world for all of us.

As a young activist, Mam Winnie herself drew inspiration from women who had forced open doors and pathways that had been reserved for men – even within our own Movement in the early years of her life.

She therefore fought internal and societal patriarchy to champion the cause – not just of women – but of all oppressed South Africans and oppressed peoples around the world.

Comrade Winnie was the human face of globalisation even before we knew this word.

She was born in 1936 – a year that produced such notable comrades as the Cape Town artist Lionel Davis and Dr Neville Alexander.

But,1936 was also a year that produced FW de Klerk, against whom Mam Winnie would wage countless and fearless campaigns that helped to bring down the curtain on apartheid, while Madiba and our leadership remained incarcerated and later in negotiations.

Born into a large family of nine children, Mam Winnie benefited from the high value her rural Eastern Cape family attached to education. With her father, Columbus, as a history teacher and her mother, Nomathamsanqa, the young Winnie Madikizela was herself guided towards studying towards a profession.

She elected social work, not because of what it would do for her, but because of what it would for the poor South Africans among whom she lived and dwelt.

She saw social work as a medium to uplift poor people and give people a voice of her own.

Giving people a voice of their own became her life’s mission, professionally and politically.

Mam Winnie did not think of this as leadership. She thought of this as service. It was just something she did. But it proved to be something that could change an entire society.

Her commitment and charisma also shape a man who would go on to play a major role in our history and in the history of the world.

Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela found the perfect transformational and revolutionary soulmate in the young Winnie Madikizela when they met in a happy coincidence of circumstance and content.

Both were on a path to bring into being the South Africa in which all South Africans, black and white, enjoy a better life today.

This was a path of personal sacrifice and patriotic struggle; a path of pain, of conflict, of resistance, and of foregoing many of the joys and comforts that accompany family life.

It was a path Mam Winnie walked in the glare of news media in the days before social media. It was in this same blaze of publicity that the shameless and merciless apartheid state persecuted and prosecuted Mam Winnie and her comrades.

Following the Rivonia Trial and the incarceration of our leadership, Mam Winnie – through no design of her own – became the face of our Struggle.

She kept the home fires burning, both in terms of her maternal role and in terms of rendering the country ungovernable by the apartheid authorities.

She stood strong and kept singing, marching, mobilising and fighting in the face of banishment to Brandfort; in the face of more than a year of solitary confinement at The Fort (now home to our Constitutional Court) and in the face of torture and attempts at humiliation.

Together with countless generations, including the women of 1956, some of whom including Mme Sophie De Bruyn are still at our side, they pioneered and sustained the traditions of selfless service of our movement.

Working tirelessly alongside many other powerful and brave women and men in the trenches of our struggle in the 1960s and ‘70s, Mam Winnie nevertheless became the poster woman for our Congress, for courage, for consistency, for clarity and for commitment.

Her commitment spanned our struggle era and our democratic dispensation, in which she served as a vociferous Member of Parliament and d Deputy Minister of Arts and Culture.

Her championship of the cause of land restitution and reform is a championship that was interrupted only by her passing away last Monday.

Today, Mam Winnie, the ANC gives thanks to you for being unwavering in your activism and unbowed in the face of repression. 

We say thanks for your years of patriotic service to the ANC, to the United Democratic Front, to the Women’s League and to so many other collectives that bear the imprint of your personality and ideology.

We thank the many fraternal organisations who are with us today and whose support of our struggle in their own countries concerntrated global attention on the plight of black South Africans under apartheid.

We say thank you to the Madikizela and Mandela families who were deprived of a constant presence during Mam Winnie’s decades of focus on the plight of others around her and the plight of downtrodden and oppressed communities all over South Africa.

We also remember and pay homage to other mothers such as Comrades Limpho Hani and the family of Solomon Mahlangu who felt brutally and bloodily the mercilessness of the apartheid state.

We say thank you to the millions of South Africans who are mourning with us across the spectrum of race, colour and class, to acknowledging the passing of a truly great South African.

As we mourn Mam Winnie’s passing, we cast our gaze ahead to the Winnie Madikizela-Mandelas – black and white – who must fight our Mother’s fight in years and generations to come.

South Africa’s transformation is not complete, and we therefore look to a new generation of young women – and young men – to advance the causes in which Mam Winnie led us so capably and forcefully.

The resolutions of the ANC’s 54th National Conference held in December 2017, are a fitting tribute to her especially the far reaching decisions on land redistribution and transformation of the economy. It is incumbent upon us to remember and mark her remarkable life by ensuring their full implementation to the benefit of all South Africans, the majority of whom are poor, African and female.

Mam Winnie’s life remains a blueprint for activism in the 21st Century, because no matter what technology we are able to employ today to realise the vision of our Freedom Charter, our Constitution and our National Development Plan, activism and struggle must come from the heart, not the hardware. 

Our activism must be fundamentally rooted in our concern for humanity and community. It must be rooted in our understanding of the challenges that face our country, our region, our continent and the world. And it must be rooted in wanting to make a difference; not a difference in our personal circumstances, but a difference in our communities and the wider world.

We will miss that unique blend of fiery militancy and charming friendship that characterised Mam Winnie. We will also miss her inner beauty and outward attractiveness.

We will miss her inspiration; her sense of principle; her ability to innovate and adapt in the face of adversity; her ability to establish a community clinic in a place of banishment, as she did in Brandfort.

But for all the attributes we will miss, we will be comforted by her legacy of a better South Africa in a better world.

We will be comforted by the rights we have won and the transformation we have effected using these rights.

We will be comforted by knowing that Mam Winnie had not resisted, fought, struggled, embraced and reconciled in vain.

We will be comforted by knowing that while her voice has grown silent, the voice of the previously voiceless will ring out across our country as continue to move South Africa forward.

We look forward to 2019 as a year not just of contestation but a year of advancing the values and vision for which Mam Winnie stood.

Today, all of us will find ourselves moving back and forth between celebration and mourning; between reliving the pain and the inspiration that was a part of Mam Winnie’s life, and between reflecting on her life and reflecting on our own.

Most of all, I hope we will grasp this national period of mourning as a moment to rededicate ourselves to completing the many revolutionary tasks Mam Winnie began in her own lifetime and left for us to complete.

Cde Jessie Duarte is the Deputy Secretary General of the African National Congress 

SHE WAS A SYMBOL OF HOPE TO ALL THE OPPRESSED AND A SOURCE OF COURAGE FOR THOSE WHO WANTED TO FIGHT AGAINST INJUSTICE

Just over a week ago our country was shattered by the devastating news of the passing away of Mama Winnie Madikizela Mandela whom we befittingly and affectionately referred to as the Mother of the Nation.

Symbolic of her own special place in our struggle for freedom, justice and equality, Mama Winnie took her last breath right at the beginning of the month of April; a month of massive historical significance in the political life of our country.

It was on this month that the seeds of colonialism and apartheid were planted with the arrival of Jan Van Riebeeck and his troops in 1652. It was on this very month three hundred and forty two years later in 1994 that the big tree of apartheid colonialism was finally uprooted and the oppressed people of South Africa won their freedom.

In the intervening period, we lost many freedom fighters whose only sin was to defy and undermine the unjust laws of the apartheid regime by boldly asserting that they too were human.

Even in this regard, the month of April imposed its political significance by claiming among these freedom fighters the most celebrated giants of our revolution.

We remember and pay tribute to Chris Thembisile Hani whose life was brutally cut short by unrepentant apartheid apologists exactly twenty five years ago today. Comrade Chris was indeed a fearless revolutionary whose radical ideas made the apartheid regime very uncomfortable.

We continue to draw inspiration from him as we pursue our programme of radical socio-economic transformation.

We also remember the gallant Solomon Kalushi Mahlangu who never betrayed the cause of freedom even when quite literally confronted with death.

We pay homage to the unparalleled icon of our struggle who also hails from Bizana, our longest serving President, Isithwalandwe Oliver Reginald Tambo. The spirit of President Tambo continues to guide us as we are seized with efforts to build a renewed, united and totally cohesive ANC that is best placed to serve the interests of the South African people as a whole.

Comrades      

In recognition of the role Mama Winnie played in building the ANC and our nation, we have gathered here to make an unequivocal statement that whilst we mourn her passing, we also celebrate her life because it was a life well lived and selflessly dedicated to the improvement of the conditions of others.

Mama Winnie Nomzamo Madikizela Mandela was a product of her time. She joined the ANC and became an activist at a time when the generation before her, that of Nelson Mandela and others, had successfully propelled the ANC onto a higher terrain of struggle.

She was inducted into the radical politics of defiance and non-cooperation with the apartheid regime. She was from the onset part of determined forces of resistance who understood that pacifism was not the answer to repression.

She believed quite correctly that freedom would have to be fought for and achieved; and that the methods of struggle chosen by our democratic movement would always have to be commensurate with the strategies employed by the enemy to effect oppression.

Her actions were therefore at all times informed by her commitment to enhance the capacity of our movement to fight effectively against apartheid and eliminate anything that threatens to weaken that capacity.

Learning from her and in respect of the current context, we have mobilized all democratic forces to do everything possible to enhance our capacity to fight effectively against poverty, unemployment and inequality; and to eliminate anything that threatens to weaken that capacity, including selfish acts of grand corruption and state capture.

I am making this point about Mama Winnie being a product of her time because there are some within our borders and beyond who have sought to demonize her character, even in death, by referring to what they deem to be massive excesses in her praxis of the revolutionary struggle against apartheid.

I could not find a better response to these critics than the words of the German revolutionary Bertolt Brecht.

Writing in his poem titled “To Posterity,” Brecht advises the generations that will come after him as follows:

“You, who shall emerge from the flood
In which we are sinking,
Think —
When you speak of our weaknesses,
Also of the dark time
That brought them forth.

For we went, changing our country more often than our shoes.
In the class war, despairing
When there was only injustice and no resistance.

For we knew only too well:
Even the hatred of squalor
Makes the brow grow stern.
Even anger against injustice
Makes the voice grow harsh. Alas, we
Who wished to lay the foundations of kindness
Could not ourselves be kind.

But you, when at last it comes to pass
That man can help his fellow man,
Do no judge us
Too harshly.”

Comrades and Friends

Mama Winnie will always have a special place in our hearts. She has made an indelible mark in the life of our nation. She was a symbol of hope to all the oppressed and a source of courage for those who wanted to fight against injustice.

She was there on the home front with the different generations of youth who kept the flames of freedom burning when the apartheid regime thought it forced the liberation movement into a state of lull.

She was there in the 70s taking advantage of the energies of the youth and guiding a generation that would later change the course of our history for good.

She was there to harness the anger and impatience of young people by recruiting them into the ranks of Umkhonto Wesizwe. These are the young people who made up the heroic June 16 Detachment to which Solomon Mahlangu belonged.

She was there to lend a hand and offer all the necessary political support when pupils who wanted to unambiguously associate themselves with the Congress Movement founded the Congress of South African Students. It is no surprise therefore that COSAS made her its honourary and lifetime President.

In the 80s, Mama Winnie continued to work with young people on the ground to up the ante against the increasingly murderous apartheid regime.

She played a significant role in ensuring that young people of our country respond positively when the call was made by President OR Tambo to make South Africa ungovernable and apartheid unworkable.

She inspired many of the actions of the death defying young lions of Oliver Tambo which accelerated the fall of the apartheid regime.

Mama Winnie was there to inspire the student movement in our country led by SASCO and its predecessors SANSCO and AZASO to play a bigger role in opposing apartheid.

Her role in the processes to dissolve SAYCO and re-launch the ANC Youth League in 1990 cannot be overemphasized.

She continued to inspire the militancy of the Youth League even after the 1994 democratic breakthrough with the intention only to communicate to the ANC that it is not yet Uhuru and that the struggle continues.   

When the political reasoning of the Youth League came into conflict with that of the leadership of the ANC a few years back, she was there on the side of young people because she genuinely believed that the contradictions brought about by the Youth League were consistent with the history of the ANC and necessary for a forward movement.

The point I am making here is that Mama Winnie was always on the side of the youth. Because of her age-defying militancy, she identified more with the radicalism and impetuousness of the youth than with the conservatism associated with many of her age.

It was this relationship she had with the youth in struggle that correctly earned her the title “Mother of the Nation.”

Comrades

Mama Winnie endured a lot of pain that was visited upon her for nothing other than opposing and fighting against apartheid.

The apartheid regime sought to break her spirit by constantly harassing her family, subjecting her to the worst forms of torture, detaining her without trial, putting her in solitary confinement, banishing her to a place far away from her home and imposing on her a long distance relationship with her husband and children.

But consistent with the character of the generation of defiant and resilient men and women from which she came, Mama Winnie’s spirit was never broken. She emerged out of every situation meant to break her even stronger.

Not once did she succumb to that persistent inner voice that always, in fear of pain and loneliness, offers the unsolicited advice that one must hang up their boots and live to fight another day.

She instead stubbornly chose the path that put her firmly on a collision course with the apartheid regime, daring them to do their worst, proclaiming the fear of nothing, determined to die with her boots on and asserting on every available platform that her people must not lose hope because the cause of freedom shall surely triumph.

Mama Winnie Nomzamo Madikizela Mandela was also a symbol of women’s emancipation. Throughout her life as a political activist, she did not conform to the politics of respectability and sexist gender roles.

She did not see women as inferior to men by any measure. She inspired many women to fight against the patriarchal relations of power even within her own movement, the ANC.

The resolution of the ANC at the Polokwane conference to have equal representation of both men and women in all leadership structures, popularly known as the 50/50 policy, came as a result of women’s struggles over many years. Mama Winnie played no small part in this struggle especially in her role as President of the ANC Women’s League.

She was a true Mbokodo who did everything in her power to advance and defend the cause of women.    

In her honour, we call upon especially young women to take the baton and organize themselves in order to confront all the social ills that continue to oppress them on the basis of their gender.

We also call upon the men in our society to say NO to the abuse of women and to denounce and abandon backward patriarchal attitudes towards women.

Comrades

We are proud that as she departs, Mama Winnie was very happy about some of the resolutions we took at our 54th National Conference. She was particularly happy about the resolutions that form the backbone of our programme of radical economic transformation such as the expropriation of land without compensation.

We are determined to correct the original sin of the violent dispossession of our people’s land and its wealth. We are cognisant of the fact that Mama Winnie will only rest in peace if we restore the dignity of our people by ensuring that they have an equal claim to the land of their birth. I want to assure all and sundry that on this, we will not retreat.     

As we continue honouring her legacy, we must seek to emulate her by being honest and hard working servants of the people of South Africa.

Like Mama Winnie, we must have the courage to speak truth to power when we see that things are clearly going wrong.  

We must work to renew and unite the ANC and make it the effective instrument of transformation Mama Winnie wanted it to be.

I thank you.

Amandla!

Matla!

All Power!

Cde Cyril Ramaphosa is the President of the African National Congress 

WINNIE MANDELA WAS IN THE BELLY OF THE BEAST

The first question we should ask ourselves at this moment is; are we mourning the passing of Mama Winnie Madikizela-Mandela or are we celebrating the life of Mama Winnie Madikizela-Mandela?

My own choice is that, there is no reason to mourn because Mama Winnie has done everything that should be done by a human being. In celebrating her life, we should acknowledge that Mama Winnie defied all odds from a very young age.

It is said, that she was the first black medical social worker. That was her first defiance of the odds. She invaded space that was reserved for white social workers.

Being a social worker as a profession is a commitment to serve. Social workers are never driven by the desire to earn a lot of money. They are driven by the desire to serve, hence they get satisfaction from counselling those who are in trouble. That is Mama Winnie

She got married to a very imposing character, the late Isithwalandwe/Seaparankoe, President Rolihlahla Mandela. That was a big decision to make on its own. She got married to the trouble itself. That is a major decision reflecting the character of a person. They had two daughters.

Mama Winnie refused to be dwarfed in the shadow of Nelson Mandela.  She emerged as herself. She grew to be a political leader in her own right.

Mama Winnie was not a leader because she was married to President Mandela.

She was one of the most outspoken leaders of the ANC.

Mama Winnie was in the belly of the beast in Brandfort, facing the enemy face-to-face. It will be unfair of all of us to try and find fault in what she did. We must appreciate that she was in the warzone commanding forces. In that process, there will be victories and mistakes, there will be setbacks and other victories. If we could understand that, negativity about her will never exist.

In 1986, an incident occurred in Mpumalanga wherein 177 mineworkers were killed in 1 day, nobody else came but Mama Winnie. Upon her arrival, she taught us a basic lesson that, that was not just an accident, it reflected the brutality of capital and capitalism as a system.

She also visited when there was a disaster in Welkom.

She went across terrains mobilising people for a command issued by the then President of the ANC, President Oliver Tambo, to make South Africa ungovernable and apartheid institutions unworkable.

Nobody is more known and respected in informal human settlements more than Mama Winnie because she was in the belly of the beast. We must appreciate that being in this position, you take decisions on your feet. Therefore, you cannot be penalised for your mistakes. Instead, you must be recognised for the risk you take and the ability to come out of that situation and lead another skirmish.

When the ANC was unbanned, there was a big debate on the 30% representation of women in any elected structure of the ANC. Mama Winnie’s fingerprints on this are very prominent and visible. Women won the debate. They increased it later to at least 50%. Mama Winnie was involved

We cannot celebrate Mama Winnie when we are divided. If we are still organised as CR17 and NDZ, we are far from celebrating her life. Let us fight factionalism wherever it manifest itself to have a strong ANC.

To reinstate trust in the ANC among the people, we should not just talk about the fight against corruption and state capture. We must be seen to be fighting it. We must deal with the inflation of prices in projects.

If we are to celebrate Mama Winnie’s life, the ANC should be seen leading a clean governance. She would have loved that. She would have loved to see an ANC that is free of corruption. She would have loved to see an ANC that does not delegate the responsibility of governing.

The ANC must be united. A united ANC will win the elections next year. People have hope. People are beginning to reinstate their trust in the ANC. However, they expect the ANC to act decisively with the necessary speed. If we don’t do that, they will be disappointed and turn their backs on us.

Personally, Mama Winnie didn’t treat me as a leader. She treated me as a child. However, when she had to respect me as a leader, she accorded me that respect. When she had to scold me as a child, she did that.

With the passing of Mama Winnie Nomzamo Madikizela-Mandela, her characters reflect in us the living. Her closed eyes opened the eyes of the living.

May her soul rest in peace!

This is the edited tribute to Mama Winnie Madikizela-Mandela delivered at a Memorial Service in Brandfort

Gwede Mantashe – National Chairperson of the African National Congress and the Minister of Mineral Resources 

THE MOTHER OF THE NATION IS GONE

The Mother of Nation is gone. When she passed on, we heard the skies weeping as if to mirror the emotions felt by the nation and the world.

Though gone from the human eye, the black fortress of human dignity   cannot be erased from the grieving heart of Africa.

Because you were the tender heart of poets and sweet melody of musicians, in a thousand years our children will return here and say, we love you without reservation Winnie Madikizela Mandela. 

Nomzamo wethu. Nomzamo wabantu…You are the ancient gift of our ancestors and the undying promise of our children.

The raised fist of power and battle cry ofAmandla has returned quietly to your chest. Now the palm of your tender hand must shield yourdelicate heart that has ceased to beat.

In letting go, we surrender to the call of the universe that it is time our ancestors wiped theaters etched in your soul which in life you refused to shed.

Nomzamo wethu, only new born babies will open our eyes to the true wonder and fortune ofour generation.  

They will say blessed are we who in our lifetime had a fine-looking African goddess living in our midst.

Unborn babies will envy us for our blessing of having seen, touched, and felt the love of youNomzamo wesizwe.

Bone of our bones, flesh of our flesh, spirit of our ancestors, you strode like a gentle titanallowing us to state that the children of Africa are also sons and daughters of a Mighty God.

In life you reminded our daughters and mothers that it is them who are powerful beyond measure. 

You taught young women across the nation that they are just as capable, if not more capable, of standing shoulder to shoulder with men and being totally unapologetic about it. 

Till death, you knew who your enemy was. Racial domination, class exploitation, gender oppression. 

 Mbokodo, malibongwe igama lamakhosikazi. Proud descendant of Ngutyana and  Msuthu,you fought a good fight.

Leading the despised masses from the front, you grinded and crushed the tyranny of racial oppression.

Despite their cruelty, humiliation, and torture, you return with no broken back to our Kings Mpondo and Faku.

Your courage in the face of death, imprisonment    and banishment opened our eyes and inspired generations of freedom fighters. You are an embodiment of our struggle, a torch-bearer of our liberation.

Women could say they are worthy descendants of the brave Queen Nzinga who went to war with the Portuguese to put an end to the enslaving of the children of Africa and the plunder of her resources.

Beyond the shores, when you meet your sister Maya Angelou, she will honour and crown you. She will attest that in life and in death, Mama Winnie Madikizela-Mandela is the “dream and hope of the slave.”

 She will say in life and in death you are the black ocean connecting us to the everlastingstrength of Africans in the diaspora. 

In life and in death you remain the unbreakable knot tying us to the bravery and heroism of the Jamaican warrior Queen Nanny and Harriet Tubman in America who took it as their honour to go to battle to free the slaves. 

In your warm eyes and giggle, we will always encounter the revolutionary love and peace of  Mutabaruka, of Tupac Shakur, of  Agostinho Neto, of  Samora Machel, of Onkgopotse Tiro, and of Solomon Mahlangu.

In you, we learn to forgive because of your abounding love and respect for Helen Joseph, Braam Fisher,  Lilian Ngoyi, Fatimah Meer, and Sophie de Bruin-Williams.

Yours was a revolution of love seeking to usher  a more humane world for all the children of our land, black and white.

To usher a new dawn in human relations, you  struck terror right at the heart of racial discrimination and injustice. 

At the end, you set the bar high and left a legacy that will live on well into the ages. Brave, tenacious, unrelenting,  bold, gracious, loving and kind.  

Phakama Nomzamo wethu.

In your undiminished love for Madiba, in your uncompromising love for Zenani and Zindzi, we find the grace and peace. 

To stay on course now that you are gone, we  must sing in unison with Thandiswa Mazwai. We must rise in humility and wisdom to assert that “the ghetto is our first love”. We must sing from dawn till sunset that you Madikizelauyiqhawe lamaqhawe. Asoze mama wethusilibale ukuthi sizalwa ngobani.

You married the struggle and gave everything to it. But you never asked for anything in returnfrom anyone. Because of that, we are now enjoying fundamental rights to choose who our leaders are, we are enjoying the access to basic services like clean water, electricity and decent shelter over our heads. 

Fellow Mourners,

It takes someone special to sacrifice their lives the way she has for a whole nation, who despite her contribution to the struggle was often met with contempt. But she remained unrelenting even until the last years of her life. 

At the wise old age of 80, she was still fighting for those whose voices had ceased with the passing of time. Away from the gaze of journalists, she was working quietly with herfamily in Bizana to raise funds to help the family of five year old Lumka Mketwa  who fell in a pit latrine and lost her life.

Compatriots,

Mama Winnie was a soldier of God, a devoted member of umanyano. She wore her church blouse with pride at the Wesley Methodist Church in Meadowlands. Long after the dawn of freedom, she was always ready to lend a hand to help bury relatives of her congregants. 

A fellow church member, uMama Vivi Hlatshwayo said of her recently, “She did not hold back from giving. She sacrificed herself for all of us – the nation and the church. She put others ahead of herself.

Look, it is written in the stars that when the shining Princess of the Madikizelas enter the gates of heaven, she will hear angels belting her favourite hymn – “Nzulu Yemfihlakalo” – to welcome her. Our soldier of peace will sing with the angels:

“Hayi! Obobunzulu

Bolu thando lwaKho;

Nalomsebenzi waKho

Ongenakuqondwa.”

So, the angels will rejoice that in life, sheremained an epitome of black excellence, pride and dignity. They will rejoice because her community never had to bend on their knees to beg her for help.

They did not have to explain to her why long after uhuru they could not afford the cost associated with burying loved ones or puttingfood on the table. 

A true friend of the workers of our land, she would never dare humiliate the poor or treat them with contempt when they sought herhelp.

The most vulnerable could always trust her with their pain and suffering. They knew that only in her heart would they composeheadlines about her kindness.

And we thank all her neigbhours in Soweto who upon hearing that Mama Winnie,  thequeen of queens, was no more, decided to suspend their daily activities  in Vilakazi Street to mourn her passing.

Mama Winnie must have been proud to see her neighbours observe the rituals and traditions of our people because in all her fameand glory, she remained that innocent villagegirl from Mbongweni who hunted and challenged boys in stick fighting.

Till the end of time, her heartbeat remained the hope and rhythm of Bizana, Soweto, Brandfort, Lamontville, New Brighton, kwaLanga, eMbali, Gugulethu, Orange Farm, Diepsloot and Kanyamazane.

Fellow Mourners,

Mama Winnie’s home has a clear view of  Orlando Stadium where we are gathered to honour and celebrate her. 

This is a home which, like her heart and her arms, which was a refuge and a place of safety and comfort for those who sought protection against the apartheid state, and a place of counsel for those who wished to contribute to our struggle. 

Her home is a monument to an extraordinary life of sacrifice and resilience. It is a home which is a symbol of global victory against apartheid, which the UN declared as a crime against humanity.

In Brandfort, where Mama Winnie was banished by the apartheid state, the home imposed on her, also emerged as a site where the human spirit triumphed.

Around our country, numerous informal settlements bear the name of Mama Winnie, not in vain idolisation but because of the struggle she joined or led in all corners of South Africa.With the adoption of her name, they expressed their hope that those informal settlements will one day be transformed to better living conditions.  

Her concern for the wellbeing of others made her a formidable champion of human rights. Her unselfish activism epitomises true values of servant leadership which all of us must emulate as we go about performing our leadership responsibilities.

As a recipient of the Order of Luthuli for her excellent contribution to our liberation struggle, Mama Winnie joins the gallery of brave South Africans whose fight for freedom caused them to perform feats that achieved gigantic outcomes.

While Mama Winnie became a face and icon of the struggles faced by black women all theworld, her activism cuts across the distinctions of gender, race and class. She was committed to the attainment of all human rights for all people. Her only preoccupation was to servehumanity in its totality.

In the past few days, Mama Winnie’s sense of universalism was echoed by millions across the world, and the visits to her home by various leaders and people from different political persuasions is testimony to her status as a global freedom fighter.  

She triumphed to lead a life of reconciliation, and the reconstruction and renewal of our society.

Our Constitutional vision of a non-racial, non-sexist, united and prosperous South Africa drew inspiration from the values and vision she stood for. 

She was one of those indestructible rocks that apartheid struck when it sought to denigrate,abuse and oppress women in our society.

As a young and recently qualified social worker,   Winnie Mandela was a shining example of the confluence of professional and political commitment.

Sixty years after Mama Winnie Mandela  qualified as a social worker at the Jan HofmeyrSchool of Social Work, the need for more social workers of her calibre who will place the betterment of our society ahead of their personal wellbeing remains a necessity.

As a militant revolutionary, her objective was always to transform the society she served rather than responding only to individual instances of disadvantage and underdevelopment.

Family  and friends ,there are important lessons that  Mama Winnie  leaves behind for her political home, the African National Congress and all progressive forces of the Mass Democratic Movement.

She valued collective leadership. She stood for truth as it related to the betterment of the lives for which this mighty organisation was formed for. She 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”. Even when she was no longer in government, she understood the challenges facing the ANC and government. She always sought to find solutions to unite all our people and their organisation. 

She could easily do so because Mama Winnie 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 Winniewarmly 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.” 

She 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.

By relentlessly tackling poverty, reducing inequality, and selflessly serving the poor, we will be best living the values she stood for. 

Fellow South Africans and all our friends around  the globe, Once more, we extend heartfelt condolences to the Madikizela and Mandela families on your irreplaceable loss.  May you be consoled in the knowledge that across the length and breadth of our country and the world, young people are opening their eyes and proclaiming that Mama Winnie Madikizela-Mandela did not die, but she multiplied.

As I conclude, allow me to read excerpts from Alice Walker’s poem she dedicated to the mother of the nation in the eighties:

“ WINNIE MANDELA

We love your vigilance.

We love your impatience

With killers

And charlatans.

We love your hatred

Of the deaths of our people.

We love your hatred

Of despair.

Winnie Mandela, Sister,

We love you.

Yours is the contemporary face

Of the mother

Of the human race.”

 Thank you very much.

 

Cde David Mabuza is the Deputy President of the African National Congress

MAMA HAS BEEN A LIVING TESTIMONY OF BEING THE MOST HUMBLED SERVANT OF THE PEOPLE

It is with great sorrow to stand here before you, on the occasion of this important day, of the memorial service, dedicated to the life and times of the mother of our nation, Cde Winnie Nomzamo Madikizela Mandela. We indeed take the opportunity,  to convey our revolutionary greetings to all of you gathered here and many of the people of our country who could not be able to make it to this auspicious ceremony. 

On behalf of the National Executive Committee of the ANC, we take the opportunity of this rare moment, to pay tribute to this most outstanding heroic leader of the struggle of our people for national liberation. From the bottom of our hearts, we convey our sincere condolences to the family, friends and relatives, to the leadership and membership of our revolutionary Alliance throughout the length and breath of our country, to the peace loving people of our democratic republic, the continent and the whole world.

The mother of the South African nation, Cde Wennie Nomzamo Madikizela Mandela is no more, the heart of one of our most beautiful flowers of our national democratic revolution, has ceased to beat. We received the devastating news that destiny has imposed itself on this great daughter of our motherland, on the 02th of April 2018. 

Mama has been a living testimony of being the most humbled servant of the people. She was indeed the most popular leader of the masses of our people, an extraordinary and magnificent all round revolutionary, who was always combat ready to take forward the tasks of our revolution. 

We pay tribute to almost an entire life of a glorious and unbroken record of heroic leadership, dedicated to the struggle for the liberation of the people of our country against Apartheid colonialism and imperialism. We will always remember her courageous exemplary leadership and immense  contribution, during the most difficult period of our struggle for the emancipation of the oppressed people of our country.

This memorial service is part of the series of events organised throughout the country by our national liberation movement, the ANC, to celebrate the living memories of this titanic leader of the struggle of our people. We thank the generosity and support the people of our country have given to the family during this difficult period of grief. 

Mama Wennie Madikizela Mandela passes on during a month which continues to be a symbolic moment of events of great historical significance to the calendar of the struggle of our people. The month of April continues to be catalogue of events which are synonymous to the history of the struggle of our people. 

On the 06th of April 1652, more than three and half century ago, the first ship of the European colonialists, from the Dutch East Indies company, under the leadership of captain Jan van Riebeck, reached the shores of our sea in the Cape colony. The ship was on a voyage of discovery to expand trade and create more markets. 

The establishment of a refreshment station at the Cape by these voyagers of trade to the East Indies, heralded a trajectory of a new forms of struggle by the people of our country. It heralded the end but the beginning of a new period of struggle against the most horrific forms and untold acts of genocide against the indigenous people of our country. 

During the same month of April, in April 1979, the world community witnessed one of the most gruesome brutalities of the racist Apartheid regime, when one of our heroic young lions of our movement, a true soldier and a leader of the struggle of our people, Cde Solomon Mahlangu, had to face the gallows of the Apartheid machinery. This young revolutionary of our national liberation movement, was killed for his unwavering commitment to the cause of the struggle of our people, to fight tooth and nail, the vicious system of Apartheid, which the world declared a crime against humanity. 

The brutal murder of this indomitable hero of our people, became a source of inspiration to many young people across the country, who relentlessly took the struggle against the system to higher levels. The young people swell the ranks of our struggle with a common determination to bring hope and dignity to the oppressed people of our country. 

Again, on the fateful day of 10th of April 1993, a bullet from the dirty hand of an imperialist sponsored assassin, rob the people of our country, the life of one of the most industrious sons of the soil, Cde Thembisile Chris Hani. Counter revolution, robbed us the life of one of our most revered leaders, whose tenacity and exemplary leadership, became the symbol of courage to the millions of the poor of the people of our country. 

Throughout his life, Cde Chris Hani occupied the forefront trenches of our struggle for the emancipation  of our people. The illustrious memories of this charismatic revolutionary soldier of our people will forever inspire the future struggle of humanity.

Two weeks after the brutal assassination of Cde Chris Hani, the longest serving President of the ANC, Cde President OR Tambo, finally succumbed to a long illness, which took his last breath on the 24th of April 1993. We pay tribute to OR Tambo, the centenary of whose birth we marked last year, for his unmatched contribution to the struggle for freedom, justice and equality.

We remain saddened that he passed away a year too early to see the 1994 democratic breakthrough, the golden fruit of the liberation struggle to which he dedicated his entire life.   In our efforts to renew our movement, we continue to draw from the wisdom of this global icon and unifying figure, who was the glue that kept our movement and all democratic forces together during the darkest days within our country and in exile.   

The names of Cdes OR Tambo, Solomon Mahlangu, Chris Hani and Wennie Madikizela Mandela are synonymous to the struggle of our people. Today, we celebrate their unbroken record of loyalty and dedication as distinguished true servants of the struggle of our people. 

Comrade Winnie Mandela was born on the 26th of September 1936 in Mbhongweni Village, at Bizana, in the then Cape province of the colonial South Africa. I am simply overstating the obvious facts of her biography, in order to bring to the fore, some of the most important historical events which have coincided with her birth and later in her life influenced and shaped her political orientation and posture. 

It was in the year 1936 that the notorious Hertzog Bills were enacted and became part of the legislative framework of the colonial South Africa, which deprived the African people their birthrights and therefore rendering them pariahs in the land of their birth. During that year, the Hertzog government passed laws that made it impossible for the africans to buy and own land in their own right as the citizens of the country. 

As thou our mother of the nation was God sent, as an antidote to the poisonous legislations which were passed by Hertzog in 1936, our democratic government led by her own movement, the ANC, has passed a motion in the national assembly, to expropriate land without compensation. The very same year of her passing away has become a great moment of undoing the injustices inflicted by the government of Hertzog during the year of her birth, to restore the dignity of the majority of the people of our country.

Mama Wennie was born at the time when the white minority apartheid regime was firmly consolidating its grip on the levers of power,  to the exclusion of the overwhelming majority of the black people in general and the africans in particular. The discriminatory bills passed by the Hertzog government during the year of her birth, are still the dominant features of the South African socio economic landscape. 

The essence of this true story during the memorial service of this heroine of our revolution, is that South Africa into which Mama Wennie was born, was characterized by social and economic supremacy by white people. Of necessity, the supremacy was anchored on conditions of poverty and underdevelopment of the majority of the oppressed people of our country.

Throughout the years of Apartheid colonial oppression and exploitation, white monopoly capital, transcended itself into a superstructure, which became a dominant force within the realms of the political, social and economic sphere of our society. In other words, over the years, white monopoly, captured the South African state by taking complete control of all important sectors of our economy, and therefore influencing power relations of our society, to the detriment of the wishes and aspirations of the majority of the people of our country. 

It is therefore important to appreciate the general context of the concrete material realities from which Mama Wennie grew, if we are ever to understand what shaped her political thinking in the later stages of her life. It is this political context which defined the her hatred towards racial oppression and exploitation. 

Mama Wennie loved education. Perhaps this is in small measure owing to the fact that both of her parents were teachers. Inspired by her family, she also believed that education is a fundamental pillar for the development of every society.

She demonstrated her commitment to education not only that she obtained two degrees under difficult circumstances, but also, and perhaps more importantly, that she was always there with her generosity to assist children from poor family background to access education. 

Within the rank and file of our movement, it is a common cause that she is known to have persuaded many of our comrades to go to school  and facilitated their bursaries. She was also instrumental in ensuring that the educational needs of the children of political prisoners and those whose parents were in exile and the underground, were well catered for. 

It is therefore without a shadow of doubt that she departed the world of the living happy against the backdrop that former President of our republic, Cde Jacob Zuma, announced the earthmoving decision to provide free higher education to children from poor and working class families.Therefore the young people of our country must draw inspiration from her life and use the opportunities provided by our democratic government to build the future of our country. 

What made the mother of our nation special, amongst other things, was her abiding faith to the power of the young people as agents of change. For this reason, it is difficult even today, for anyone amongst us, to talk of any generation of youth, without connecting it to the influence of Mama Wennie. 

She played a significant political leadership role of ensuring that the young people of our country respond positively to the call by the President OR Tambo, to make South Africa ungovernable and apartheid unworkable.It is not an exaggeration that more than any other leader of our movement, she was the most closely linked to the programmes of the young people of our country to defeat the Apartheid regime. 

She inspired many of the death defying young lions of President Oliver Tambo, who, because of her tutelage, accelerated the struggle for the liberation of our country. Even after the 1994 democratic breakthrough, she continued to be the beacon of hope, to the struggle led by the young people of our country, for radical socio economic transformation. 

Our 54th conference took resounding resolutions to accelerate the revolutionary programme for socio economic transformation of our society.  This is a mandate which cannot be implemented in different tongues, this is the mandate we must talk and walk. The branches of the ANC at our historic national elective conference were clear, they were clear that they wanted radical economic transformation of our society. 

Therefore the immediate task of the newly elected leadership of our national executive committee is to ensure that we expropriate land without compensation, that we nationalize the Reserve Bank and ensure that the majority of the people of our country take ownership of the commanding heights of our economy. 

This is the performance agreement the branches of the ANC have given to the elected leadership of the ANC at the conference. This is the barometer to measure our performance and therefore ensuring that we accelerate our struggle against disease, poverty and underdevelopment. 

The ANC therefore invites all sectors of our society to contribute meaningfully in ensuring that we accomplish these strategic objectives during this important period of our transition to democracy. We cannot succeed in building a non racial, non sexist, democratic and prosperous society, when almost over eighty percent of the ownership and the value chain of our economy is still in the hands of few white people. 

During our recent campaign for voter registration, Mama was there in the forefront of our trenches mobilizing people and the youth of our country to register for the forthcoming elections. She was unambiguous when addressing the people of SOWETO that they must ensure that the ANC receives an overwhelming two thirds majority in the 2019 elections. 

It is therefore inconceivable that Mama Wennie Mandela can be attributed to the type of the ANTI-ANC views, that some of the doomsayers within and outside the ranks of our movement, seek to perpetuate. It is very painful, to see some amongst our ranks, spreading false rumours about the life of our struggle icon, to the applause of the enemies of our movement. 

The ANC and the revolutionary alliance have an urgent task of combating the growing culture within the ranks of our movement, of leaders of the ANC using the names of our departed to justify their disdain to each other and even advancing their factional views at the expense of the unity and renewal of our movement. 

We are making a clarion cal to all members of the ANC across the landscape of our country, to start respecting the families mourning the departure of their loved ones from our mother earth. It is only consistent with the culture and the values of our society that ANC leaders must start to pay respect the values and culture of our society. 

Therefore ANC leaders must stop abusing platforms of memorial services and funerals to fight their own factional battles. It is time that South Africans stand up and say, enough is enough, to this ugly demon which is always raising its head against the true traditions and culture of our people. 

Let us remember and honour Mama Winnie Madikizela Mandela as an icon of our struggle who had the interests of the ANC and the people of South Africa at heart. Let us not manipulate her memory to sow and deepen divisions within our movement and country. 

Mama Winnie was not just a freedom fighter against national oppression. She was deeply rooted in the struggles of ordinary black women who continue to bear the brunt of the patriarchal power relations in our society. Many black women saw in Mama Winnie a symbol of their own emancipation, they saw in her the power they sought in themselves. 

We are encouraged to have seen the hundreds of thousands of young women across the country who responded this past Friday to the call to honour Mama Winnie by wearing black and a doek mobilized under the Hashtag #I AM WINNIE.You have made Mama Winnie proud because she was passionate about the plight of young women.

We are confident that the young women of this country will learn more about Mama Winnie and continue the struggle against patriarchy. This will be to give effect in practice to the phrase: “Winnie has not died, she has multiplied.” 

Again we take the opportunity, on behalf of the National Executive Committee of the ANC, to convey our heartfelt condolences to the family and the people of our country. Wennie is not dead, Wennie is alive, her living memories will forever be with us, Wennie is part of the future struggle of humanity for peace and prosperity. 

May her soul Rest In Peace 

Cde Ace Magashule is the Secretary General of the African National Congress 

MAMA WINNIE WAS A DIAMOND, BUILT TO SHINE, NEVER TO BREAK – PRESIDENT CYRIL RAMAPHOSA

Mama Winnie Madikizela-Mandela has been a constant companion throughout our lives and throughout our struggle. When, like Madiba, she was banished from our presence, she was present in our consciousness and in our hearts.

Mama Winnie lived a rich and eventful life, whose victories and setbacks traced the progress of the struggle of our people for freedom. It was a life marked by service, sacrifice, determination – a life that taught us much about the tenacity of the human spirit.

The life of Mama Winnie gives full expression to our rallying cry: Wathint’ Abafazi, Wathint’ Imbokodo. But she was not just any rock. She was a diamond, built to shine, built to last, built never to break. Like a diamond, she conveyed complexity, strength and beauty.

Harassed, hounded and tortured by a brutal and murderous state, she would not shatter. Stripped of the comfort of family life, banned and imprisoned, she stood firm. Separated from her husband by steel bars and the cold waters of Table Bay, she had to be both mother and father to her children and to the nation.

She remained a symbol of strength for the many women who had lost their partners and children to the liberation struggle. She was a symbol of defiance for the many women who were themselves freedom fighters and who had to endure not only the racism of the apartheid state, but the sexism of a patriarchal system.

Regardless of her own pain, she ensured that the children and families of liberation were clothed and fed. She gave them hope and encouragement. She fought to ensure that Madiba would never be forgotten, that his name would remain in the hearts and minds of the oppressed people of the world.

Today, with the benefit of hindsight, we must acknowledge that her strength and generosity of spirit placed upon her an inordinate burden. Often having to endure in solitude, for our sake she masked her pain, held back her cries and hid the bruises of her suffering.

We know that she did not join the struggle with the expectation of recognition or reward, but by the sheer weight of her contribution, her name will forever secure a permanent place in the history of our liberation struggle.

From her life, future generations will understand what it means to be a freedom fighter of determination and sacrifice. From her life, they will know what it means to stand for justice. From her life, they will know what it means to be faithful and loyal to the cause of human freedom. From her life, they will know that women can, do and have shaped the course of our history.

From her life, they will learn what it truly means to be revolutionary. They will learn that there is nothing revolutionary about howling insults and using the privilege of elected office to ridicule and demean others. There is nothing revolutionary about seeking the votes of the people for self-enrichment and aggrandisement.

When future generations ask about her, we will tell them to read Maya Angelou’s poem, “And still I rise”, for it could easily have been written to describe her life.

You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may tread me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I’ll rise…

Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops.
Weakened by my soulful cries…

You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I’ll rise…

 Out of the huts of history’s shame
I rise
Up from a past that’s rooted in pain
I rise
I’m a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.
Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
I rise
Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear
I rise
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
I rise
I rise
I rise.

Like so many of our people she lived with fear, pain, loss and disappointment. And yet each day she rose with the nobleness of the human spirit. They sought to denigrate her with bitter and twisted lies, but still she rose. They wanted to see her broken, with bowed head and lowered eyes, and weakened by soulful cries, but still she rose. They tried to defeat her with their hatefulness, but, like the masses who called her mother, still she rose.

Out of the huts of history’s shame, she rose. Up from a past rooted in pain, she rose. And as we celebrated in a free and democratic nation, still she rose, and carried with her the dreams and hopes of the slave.

** Cyril Ramaphosa is the President of South Africa. This is an edited extract from his address at the celebration of Winnie Madikizela-Mandela’s 80th birthday, 14 September 2016.

MATAMELA CYRIL RAMAPHOSA

Matamela Cyril Ramaphosa

 Comrade Matamela Cyril Ramaphosa has been elected President of the African National Congress at its 54th National Conference in Nasrec, Soweto, on 16 December 2017. He is the 13th President of the ANC since its founding. Before his election, he served as the Deputy President of the ANC under the leadership of President Jacob Zuma as part of the National Executive Committee of the ANC as elected in 2012. He is the current Deputy President of the Republic of South Africa in the ANC’s fifth administration in government. 

Comrade Cyril Ramaphosa has served in the National Executive Committee of the ANC for 26 years. He was elected to the position of ANC Secretary-General at the 1991 National Conference, the first conference of the ANC in the country after unbanning, under the Presidency of Nelson Mandela. 

He began his political activism in the 1970s during the period of students uprisings in the country, organised behind the banner of the black consciousness movement, which came to head during the 16 June 1976 massacre. 

His election into the ANC and especially to the position of Secretary-General followed his reputation as an effective organiser and trade union leader following his term as General Secretary of the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM). He led the founding processes of the NUM and went on to lead the union to stage one of the biggest and most effective industrial strikes in South Africa in 1987, leading to a three weeks shutdown of the entire mining industry. He emerged out of that political standoff between labour and capital as a renowned negotiator, reputed for his tough approach and ability to push a hard bargain whilst maintaining the respect of his opponents.

As part of his role as Secretary-general, he served as Chief Negotiator for the ANC at the Congress for a Democratic South Africa (CODESA) at which the framework for a democratic transition was being mapped out. His experience as a negotiator in industrial conflicts asserted him as one of the key players in breaking stalemates and initiating strategic areas of consensus between opposing parties in that process.

After the first democratic elections in 1994, Comrade Cyril Ramaphosa was deployed in Parliament by the ANC and was elected as Chairperson of the Constitutional Assembly tasked with drafting the new Constitution of the Republic of South Africa. He was re-elected as Secretary-General of the ANC in its 49th National Conference in 1994.

ORGANISATIONAL RENEWAL & DESIGN TO ENHANCE OPERATIONAL EFFECTIVENESS

The ANC subcommittee on Organisational Renewal, in its assessment of the current state of the ANC as an organisation reaffirmed its confidence that ANC remains the leader in the processes for social change as demonstrated by our delivery of service since 1994. 

Presenting the outcomes of commission discussions on the renewal of the organisation, the sub-committee Chair on Organisational Renewal, Cadre Fikile Mbalula emphasised the organisation’s dual character as a liberation movement and a political party. He further stated that this in itself requires the organisation to readjust its organisational machinery to be more responsive to the new demands arising from our current political epoch.

According to Mbalula, the sub-committee accepts and is introspective about the dangers that have creeped into the movement and believe restoration begins with acceptance of ones failures and underperformance.

The central thesis of the organisation’s analysis is that the subjective weaknesses of our movement are not unrelated to the influence of a neo-liberal ideological paradigm. Neo-liberalism sought to weaken both the ANC’s progressive outlook and the capacity of the developmental state to carry out a thoroughgoing transformation agenda, Mbalula said.

He also pointed out ‘the silent shift from transformative politics to palace politics wherein internal strife and factional battles over power and resources define the political life of the movement’. The tendency of other comrades nowadays who ‘use mainstream media outlets to let out their political ambitions within the movement and find fame within enemy agents hoping that our people would not decipher the political venom of their “poisonous tongues” must be condemned, Mbalula emphasized.  

With regard to policy proposals, the Subcommittee proposed a maximum target of 65% National Executive Committee members be allowed to serve in the country’s Cabinet. This proposal, he said, will allow the organisation to have an objective view and influence developments in government, civil society, the economy and international arena.

There was also a proposal on the establishment of the Revolutionary Electoral Commission. “This process must be guided by the Through the Eye of the Needle policy document, he said, in order to ensure that the ANC structures prepares, produce and present to South Africa the best cadres from its ranks.”

The Subcommittee also proposed that the Internal lobbying of ANC members, leaders or structures to have specific internal arrangements to enable ethics and code of conduct regulations to prevent ANC work from being conducted in dark corners. This will also prevent corruption.

“A one stop ANC portal infrastructure should be rolled out to reconnect ANC to the people and membership” Mbalula said. This was another proposal. This portal would contain all relevant policy and other documents. It should have a page where members, cadres and supporters can advise or express their views on various matters.

The Subcommittee also concluded on the type and quality of cadres the ANC required. The new cadre should be able to understand and appreciate the ideological orientation, policies and political programmes of the African National Congress, Mbalula added. This new cadre should be able, at all times, to understand, and interpret the changing nature of global balance of forces, social and economic trends in society and have a strategic and farsighted approach to challenges of “modern day” society.

MESSAGES OF SUPPORT TO #ANC54

South African National Civic Organisation

This 54th National Conference of the leader of society affords the revolutionary alliance and the Mass Democratic Movement an opportunity to reclaim its revolutionary conscientiousness and recommit to the advancement of the National Democratic Revolution (NDR) as we rebuild, renew and reposition the African National Congress (ANC) as a strategic centre of power to serve all people of South Africa. 

 

This gathering of activists and festival of ideas must rise above growing factionalism, self-interest and patronage tendencies that seek to redefine the character of the movement, i.e. if the ANC is to emerge from this watershed conference as a united force to carry out its historic mission to create a united, non-racial, non-sexist, equitable and democratic society.

South African Communist Party

The South African Communist Party salutes the delegates to this historic 54th National Conference of our strategic ally, the African National Congress. In saluting the delegates to this Conference we trust that you appreciate that the future of the ANC, the future of our Alliance, and therefore the prospects for the sustained advance, deepening and defence of our national democratic revolution lie, in many respects, in your hands. 

The 54th National Conference of the ANC has the potential to impact on the future viability of our Alliance. In wishing delegates and leadership to the Conference well, we urge you to agree on policies and a leadership collective that will move the ANC out of the current trend of decline.

Congress of South African Trade Unions

The Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) on behalf of more than 1, 7 million of its members wishes the African National Congress a successful and productive 54th National Conference. 

The unity of the ANC is sacrosanct. The delegates in this conference should work to foster and defend not just the unity of the ANC but of our people in general. This conference should be about the restoration of unity and cohesion within the movement as a whole, as well as building confidence and hope amongst the masses of our people ahead of the national elections in 2019. 

COSATU trusts that this 54th National Conference would hopefully lay a foundation and develop a programme of action to rebuild the ANC and our revolutionary Alliance. We wish all the delegates well in their deliberations and we hope that they will show discipline and successfully carry their mandates from their branches. 

Aluta Continua!