Madikizela-Mandela: A faithful member of ANC throughout her life

After ANC stalwart Ahmed Kathrada died in 2017, the woman affectionately Known as the mother of the nation, spoke of her sadness over the state of the ANC.

FILE: Winnie Madikizela-Mandela greets Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa at the ANC national policy conference at Nasrec on 30 June 2017. Picture: Thomas Holder/EWN

JOHANNESBURG – Winnie Madikizela-Mandela remained a faithful member of the African National Congress (ANC) throughout her life even though she spoke out against the organisation when it went through what she described as a crisis a year ago.

She also recently expressed confidence in the new leadership of the organization.

“I am the ANC in the first place.”

This was Madikizela-Mandela just three weeks ago when she registered to vote for the ANC in next year’s elections.

But just a year go, she almost couldn’t recognize the party she dedicated her life to.

After ANC stalwart Ahmed Kathrada died in 2017, the woman affectionately known as the "mother of the nation", spoke of her sadness over the state of the ANC.

“It is a tragedy that he did live and saw what’s happening today. All what he had fought for was not what’s going on today, it’s tragedy that he left and saw what’s happening today, we can’t pretend SA is not in crisis.”

And in her eyes, that crisis seemed to end when new leaders were elected in December.

As she registered to vote last month Madikizela-Mandela expressed confidence in the ANC, saying it would surprise the country in the 2019 polls.

“I’m confident that we’ll lead this South Africa to victory. I’m back.”

Madikizela-Mandela passed away on Monday afternoon at the Milpark Hospital surrounded by her family.

The struggle stalwart had been in and out of the facility, battling a recurring kidney infection.

Leading tributes is President Cyril Ramaphosa who says the country has lost a hero.

“Even at the deepest moments of our struggle for liberation, mam’ Winnie was an abiding symbol of the desire of our people to be free. In the midst of repression, she was a voice of defiance and resistance.”

African National Congress secretary-general Ace Magashule says Madikizela-Mandela's spirit encouraged freedom fighters and inspired both young and old.

“Comrade Winnie Madikizela-Mandela dedicated her life to the betterment of her people and she worked for the realisation right to until the end of her life. She was an inspiration to both young and old who shared her vision of an egalitarian prosperous and free South Africa.”

Opposition parties have also paid tribute to Madikizela-Mandela with the United Democratic Movement praising her as a feisty and vocal freedom fighter, while the Democratic Alliance has expressed its sadness.

Party leader Mmusi Maimane said: “We join the continent, the people of this country and certainly the freedom fighters all over the world in mourning and we certainly owe a great deal of gratitude as a country but also we need to celebrate her life and continue the values of the struggle that she stood for.”

The Nelson Mandela Foundation has described Madikizela-Mandela's passing as a blow.

In a statement, the foundation says the woman many referred to as the "Mother of the Nation" travelled a long road with her former husband and fellow anti-apartheid activist Nelson Mandela.

The foundation’s chairman professor Njabulo Ndebele says all South Africans are indebted to Madikizela-Mandela.

Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu has sent his message of condolences, hailing Madikizela-Mandela as a defining symbol of the struggle against apartheid.

Meanwhile, the Ahmed Kathrada Foundation has described Madikizela-Mandela as an iconic symbol against apartheid, whose militancy, courage and defiance kept the struggle alive.

Political analyst Vukani Mde says Madikizela-Mandela was an inspiration for as someone who fought the apartheid system.

“There is an entire generation of South African who were young then who credit her with their own political consciousness because she raised them as politically conscious people. People who would have been lost to the struggle for liberation.”

The atmosphere outside the struggle hero’s home isn’t showing signs of dying down, with local joining in dance and song.

(Edited by Leeto M Khoza)