Former ANC MP and leader of the African Democratic Change Dr Makhosi Khoza described Winnie Madikizela-Mandela as a leader who was fearless, brave and loving during the struggle against apartheid.
Khoza said the contributions the late liberation fighter and human activist made in the pursuit of freedom in South Africa far outweighed the controversies.
“Some of us had become internal displacees in South Africa, inside our own country. In KwaZulu-Natal, there was a lot of violence, and this is the woman that was really taking us under her wing and making sure that we grew up to become the people that we had become,” Khoza said on PowerFM.
She said Madikizela-Mandela’s passing was not only a loss to the nation but a major loss to women in particular.
“That is a woman who epitomises resilience, and she also epitomises brilliance,” Khoza said.
She said Madikizela-Mandela was a leader ahead of her time and that this was proven by how she had supported her, Khoza, when the ANC formally charged her before leaving the party.
Khoza said she first met Madikizela-Mandela at the age of 18, six years after joining the ANC, and that she looked up to the former ANC Women’s League president.
“In fact, my own feminist ideology, my own way at looking at life as the gender equality issue, I think it was Winnie that made me start looking at life that way, and she refused to allow patriarchal constructs to define her, and she became her own person,” she said.
She said Madikizela-Mandela would have contributed immensely and made a significant and laudable impact on the South African political sphere even if she had not met her former husband Nelson Mandela.
“Because her own contribution she did it whilst Madiba was incarcerated and she brought up people like myself and today I am contributing in politics, and I think I’m following in her footsteps, and I must say that I cherish the life I spent with her,” Khoza said.
She said when the mother of the nation was the president of the ANCWL and worked closely with woman-centred movements during the 1980s, Madikizela-Mandela was a feminist of note.
“She was really pushing the emancipation of women, even within the ANC. We had to fight the gender battle because women were not always recognised as leaders in their own right, and I do think that we are missing that, and I think it’s important for us to remember her contribution in making sure that, as women, we were conscientised,” Khoza said.
She said she remembered one lesson Madikizela-Mandela gave at one of the classes of a political school she ran that women, particularly poor black women, during apartheid faced the triple threat of being oppressed because of their race, gender and class.