A hero’s funeral for Winnie is fitting – Zuma
Zuma said Winnie is a national hero and that’s how we should say goodbye to her, adding we have lost a mother, a leader, a cadre and a special comrade.
Former president Jacob Zuma waves to supporters outside the home of the late Winnie Madikizela-Mandela in Soweto, April 4, 2018. Picture: REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko
Former president Jacob Zuma has praised his successor Cyril Ramaphosa for announcing that ANC stalwart Winnie Madikizela-Mandela would have a funeral fit for the national hero that she was.
This week Ramaphosa declared her send-off would be a special official funeral category one, which entails elements of a military ceremonial honours.
Zuma said: “I appreciate that the president is giving her the kind of funeral she deserves. She is a national hero and that’s how we should say goodbye to her.”
Outside Madikizela-Mandela’s house in Soweto yesterday, Zuma said her death was a shock to him as he was unaware she was in hospital.
“It is a painful experience when one of our (ANC) family departs. She was not only a mother to her family and the ANC, but also a mother to the nation.
“She gave inspiration to everyone. She was of course a mother of many, so we have lost a mother, a leader, a cadre and a comrade of a special type. To us it is a big loss,” he said.
Among others who visited yesterday was African Union Commission chairperson Faki Mahamat who delivered a glowing tribute to her.
“She was a fearless campaigner who sacrificed much of her life for freedom in South Africa. The entire African Union family joins the continent in grief,” he said.
Former president Thabo Mbeki, who spent two hours with the family on Tuesday, said Madikizela-Mandela was an “outstanding militant” and “leader of the struggle” to defeat the apartheid system.
He highlighted that she had been loving and caring to many, a shoulder to cry on, and a militant spokesperson for the poor and oppressed.
He acknowledged that Madikizela-Mandela’s legacy would suffer from the “wrong things” she had done, such as her involvement with the controversial Mandela Football Club and her statement that matches and necklaces would liberate the country. But he said it had to be seen in the context of her passion for the freedom of black South Africans.
Earlier, he praised her resilience. “Confined, detained, banned, banished, harassed by the apartheid security police, she refused to be intimidated.”
He said she was always among the first to comfort the victims of apartheid terror in townships, to visit the injured, give solace to the dying and sustain the spirits of the bereaved families.
She had a very definite view about the distinctive role of women in the struggle and denounced the patriarchy in the ANC and that the movement was distant from the poor.
Madikizela-Mandela’s close associate and ANC national executive committee member Nomvula Mokonyane said her death would not leave a void regarding who would champion women’s struggles because she had groomed many other women to be leaders.
“There is no void, there are millions of women out there. She inspired some of the young women who led the #FeesMustFall movement” Mokonyane said.
She said South Africa had lost a very critical voice and a strong woman, adding: “We are poorer without Mama Winnie.”