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David Mabuza pays tribute to Winnie Mandela, calls for ANC to unite

Thabo Mohlala

The National Executive Committee (NEC) of the African National Congress (ANC) visited Winnie Madikizela-Mandela’s home in Orlando West, Soweto on Thursday.

The top six, led by their deputy-president David Mabuza, were there to commiserate with the family.

Mabuza gave a formal tribute to Madikizela-Mandela on behalf of the ANC. He officially opened the book of condolences which he said will be made available at selected places across the country.

In his address Mabuza expressed gratitude to the multitudes of people, particularly members of the ANC, who kept vigil outside Madikizela-Mandela’s house since the announcement of her passing.

Thousands of people came to provide moral support for the family. The list included politicians from opposition political parties, community figures, ambassadors and a Nigeria chief..

Mabuza reminded people that Madikizela-Mandela was a leader who is the embodiment of the fight against apartheid. He said Mam’ Winnie, as she is affectionately called, bore deep scars from our liberation.

“She is the torch bearer of our freedom and as the ANC we hold this name in high esteem. We respect this leader and we are saying to all of you; celebrate this life, learn whatever lessons you can from this life that was well lived,” said Mabuza.

Another message was that the ANC would not prevent other people and political parties from paying respect to uMama Winnie.

This is because she was a leader for all of us, said Mabuza.

“All political parties are allowed to come to this family to pay their homage. We hope everything that is going to be done here would be done with the necessary respect to honour the person we are here for,” he added.

Mabuza used the opportunity to appeal for unity among the ANC members in honour of Madikizela-Mandela’s memory and legacy.

“ANC members must unite, take over the spear and proceed. Unity within our ranks and the renewal of our movement must be our guiding principles as we continue with our struggle.  That is the best prize we can give to our fallen hero uMama Winnie,” said Mabuza.

Deputy Minister of Transport Sindisiwe Chikunga also paid respect to Mam’Winnie. Chikunga said the country, the ANC as well as the SADC region and the world have suffered a great loss with her passing.

Chikunga spoke to Inside Education. She described Madikizela-Mandela as a leader, a mother and a woman of integrity. She said Mam’Winnie lived a life characterised by unparalleled commitment, dedication and sacrifice.

“Remember she was a qualified social worker who was married to a practising lawyer? This means they could afford a better life for both of them and their children but instead they chose to fight for the poor and for those who cannot do anything for themselves.”

Therefore, we remember a person who was selfless,” said Chikunga.

She said she met Madikizela-Mandela during one of the government’s road safety events and felt particularly honoured to have interacted with her. Chikunga said what will remain etched in her memory is Madikizela Mandela’s humility.

Chikunga said she was overwhelmed by Madikizela-Mandela’s endorsement under the leadership of the then Minister of Transport Dipuo Peters.

“It is something that I would always cherish and I actually regard it as a blessing”, said Chikunga.

Minister in the Presidency, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, held a press briefing to share latest details about the funeral arrangements of the late Madikizela-Mandela. She confirmed that the funeral will be held at the Orlando Stadium on Saturday, 14 April.

She said the venue for a memorial service has been moved from Regina Mundi Catholic Church but to a bigger venue whose name would be released at a later stage.

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