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