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Winnie Madikizela-Mandela's funeral rift

News24 - Sunday 15th April, 2018

The ANC had to fight for space on the programme of Winnie Madikizela-Mandela's funeral, which became a platform to shame the party for turning its back on her.

City Press understands that the Madikizela-Mandela family was opposed to ANC speakers and made an eleventh-hour compromise to give space to the governing party, the political home of the late stalwart and MP.

ANC insiders described a "clear rift" between the party and the Madikizela-Mandela family.

According to the programme issued on Friday evening, former ANC Youth League (ANCYL) president and current ANC elections head Fikile Mbalula was the designated speaker for the party. However, during his address, Mbalula said he was speaking on behalf of the "young lions".

This angered both current and former youth league leaders, who questioned why he was made their spokesperson.

Shortly after Mbalula spoke, ANC chairperson Gwede Mantashe gave a surprise address to mourners at Orlando Stadium yesterday. Mantashe emphasised that a funeral was an occasion to mourn, not to air differences.

City Press understands that Mantashe's contribution was the result of last minute, behind the scenes negotiations allegedly spearheaded by the Madikizela-Mandela's grandson Zondwa Mandela.

Insiders said the ANC vehemently objected to what was to be the complete removal of the organisation from the programme yesterday morning.

'Disrespect'

ANCYL treasurer-general Reggie Nkabinde has come out swinging against the sidelining of the league's current leadership in favour of Mbalula. He said the ANCYL's current dismal state was the result of the interference of the mother body.

"What the ANC did today, I regard it as the highest form of disrespect to the sitting leadership," Nkabinde told City Press.

"The ANC must take the responsibility of what is happening in the youth league. This is the kind of product that the league will always produce if elders continue to sit around the table and dictate who should lead the ANCYL. Today we are a joke in society because of the very same ANC leaders who determined who should lead this organisation," Nkabinde said. He was referring to the league's last conference, at which little-known Collen Maine was elected its president.

Maine this week praised Madikizela-Mandela for resisting "capture" by the Gupta family. He admitted that North West Premier Supra Mahumapelo had taken him to see the wealthy Indian business family.

GALLERY: Winnie Madikizela-Mandela's funeral

ANC spokesperson Pule Mabe insisted they forged a united front with the Madikizela-Mandela family.

"A united front was consistently maintained by all. We would like to thank the people of Soweto for welcoming both local and international guests who visited mama's home to convey their words of condolences. This had been a difficult mourning period because of Mama Winnie's humane personality, whom we have to come declare as the Mother of the Nation," said Mabe.

He said they had done all they could to ensure that ANC structures tasked with attending to funeral logistics did their best to ensure the event went off without a hitch.

Mandela family spokesperson Victor Dlamini would not respond to any of the questions City Press posed. He said changes to the programme were immaterial and he was not interested in the alleged rift. He did not speak for the ANC, he said.

Economic Freedom Fighters' leader and former ANCYL president Julius Malema, who was close to Madikizela-Mandela, was pivotal to the planning of yesterday's event. Insiders said he played an important role in the final decision making, along with Madikizela-Mandela's daughters Zindzi and Zenani.

'She touched our wounds all the time'

Malema attacked the ANC for failing the woman who he said kept the spirit of resistance alive while other leaders were jailed or exiled during the apartheid regime's reign of terror.

Malema stopped short of naming those he said had shown disdain for Madikizela-Mandela's leadership. He called them "betrayers" and "sellouts".

"Equally so, Mama, some of those who sold you out to the regime are here. And what is funny, Mama, is that they are crying the loudest, more than those of us who cared for you," Malema shouted.

"Mama, Mama the UDF (United Democratic Front) cabal is here. The cabal that rejected you and disowned you and sent you to the brutal apartheid regime is here. When they called a press conference, they said in that press conference you are not part of them. They are here today."

In a veiled reference to fellow programme director Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, Malema lashed out at those who resigned from the ANC Women's League (ANCWL) national executive committee (NEC), in protest against Madikizela-Mandela's election as president in the early 1990s.

"Mama Nomzamo, Mama Nomzamo, all those who resigned from the NEC of the women's league, because they said they cannot be led by a criminal, they are here. Some of them are playing prominent roles in your funeral, in a funeral of a person they called a criminal, in a funeral of a person they were ready to humiliate."

Women who resigned from the NEC at the time included Adelaide Tambo, Baleka Mbete and Mapisa-Nqakula.

"We mention these few incidents just to make them aware that we know what they did to you. They must never think we have forgotten what they did to you. We see you in your beautiful suits, betrayers, sellouts, we see you," Malema said to deafening applause.

ANCWL president Bathabile Dlamini used her tribute to confess that the current leadership failed to rally behind Madikizela-Mandela in the face of oppression from the patriarchy in the party.

Rose against patriarchy, prejudice

In a no-holds-barred tribute to her mother, Zenani Mandela-Dlamini spoke about a campaign which sought to discredit her mother. She questioned the timing of those who waited until her mother's death to provide evidence backing up false claims about her.

"When you read popular history about the liberation struggle, you can be forgiven for thinking that it was a man's struggle, and a man's triumph.

"Nothing could be further from the truth. My mother is one of the many women who rose against patriarchy, prejudice and the might of a nuclear-armed state to bring about the peace and democracy we enjoy today," a teary-eyed Mandela-Dlamini said.

President Cyril Ramaphosa opened up about seeing Madikizela-Mandela's daughters the day after her death. Their tears revealed their mother's wounds, he said.

He spoke about the stalwart's isolation in the absence of other leaders, particularly men, who merely snatched the baton from her.

"The men took over again and the women were relegated to a supporting role. Mam' Winnie provided leadership at the most difficult periods and sought no reward," Ramaphosa said.

"She had been left to tend her wounds on her own for most of her life. Left alone to fend for herself only caused her more pain. But she touched our wounds all the time."

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