African National Congress (ANC) national executive committee member Tony Yengeni on Thursday lambasted former president Thabo Mbeki’s criticism earlier this week of the late Winnie Madikizela-Mandela’s actions at the height of apartheid.
Yengeni was part of the party’s top brass led by Deputy President David Mabuza who visited the Madikizela-Mandela family in Orlando, Soweto, on Thursday.
He said negative statements had been made against Madikizela-Mandela since her death on Monday. Madikizela-Mandela, 81, died in the Milpark hospital in Johannesburg on Monday afternoon after a long illness.
“Comrade Thabo is an elder, and we expect much better from our elders. He should have known better and refrained from making such negative statements about comrade Winnie. I as a member of ANC and as her friend, am very angry about that… I will raise this in the ANC NEC that comrades restrain themselves from being negative,” he told journalists outside Madikizela-Mandela’s home.
Mbeki was shown in a televised incident in 2001, pushing Madikizela-Mandela away as she tried to embrace him at a rally in Soweto, knocking her cap off.
Speaking in a television interview on the life of the late anti-apartheid struggle icon, Mbeki said Madikizela-Mandela never listened to ANC leaders and disobeyed an order to disband her controversial Mandela United Football Club — notorious for necklacing people suspected to be police informers in the 1980s.
He said the anti-apartheid struggle icon was a “courageous activist” even though “she did wrong things”.
Yengeni said it was time to celebrate Madikizela-Mandela’s life, and not bash her.
“One should not beat up a man when he’s down…comrade Winnie can’t answer for herself, she can’t respond…so lets be careful about what we say, lets celebrate [her] life. Anyone who has issues [with Winnie] can raise them after the mourning period.”