President Cyril Ramaphosa, speaking at the memorial service of late anti-apartheid icon Winnie Madikizela-Mandela in Bizana, Eastern Cape, today, says the Mother of Nation was against corruption and state capture.
He said in honouring Madikizela-Mandela and her commitment to fighting injustice, the government would incapacitate itself to effectively eradicate poverty, reduce unemployment and inequality as well as deal with corruption and state capture.
Ramaphosa said it was concerning that since her passing, some within the country and abroad sought to demonise her legacy.
Her links to the murder of child activist Stompie Seipei and her advocacy for necklacing, among others, have come into sharp focus since her passing.
Ramaphosa said Madikizela-Mandela would always have a special place in the hearts of South Africans because she had been a symbol of hope and a source of courage for those who are opposed to injustice.
“Whilst we mourn Winnie, we are also here to celebrate her well-lived life which was selflessly dedicated to the improvement of others,” the president said.
He said though Madikizela-Mandela had been a product of her time, she was also the product of Bizana, her place of birth, where the memorial was held.
The president explained that Madikizela-Mandela’s birthplace had not been contaminated by colonialism because there had been no missionary or trading stations there, and so he believed that was where the seeds of a defiant spirit had been sown in Madikizela-Mandela.
Ramaphosa said if one were to ask about her strength and courage from those who had been at her side during apartheid, they would testify that she had been the most courageous and most committed leader.
He said Madikizela-Mandela had played a significant role through different milestones in the fight against apartheid, working closely with young people from the 1970s until after the first democratic elections when she continued to inspire the militancy of the post-apartheid ANC Youth League.
He said Madikizela-Mandela had always been on the side of young people because she identified more with radicalism and youthful impetuousness and that it was this relationship that earned her the name, Mother of the Nation, a name she earned while in the trenches.
Ramaphosa said Madikizela-Mandela had been one of the ANC leaders to endure the most pain, struggle, humiliation and suffering during her fight against apartheid.
“She never rested for one single moment because she was constantly being the mother of the nation,” he said.
The president said the Mother of the Nation had been a symbol of women’s emancipation and that she did not conform to the politics of respectability and gender roles, and did not see women as inferior to men, but inspired women to fight against patriarchy even within the ANC.
Ramaphosa said she did everything in her power to advance as well as to defend the course of women in the party and country as a whole.
He called on young women to take up the baton from Madikizela-Mandela and continue to fight the social ills they had to deal with, and he urged men to abandoned patriarchal attitudes towards women.
Madikizela-Mandela had expressed her happiness in the resolutions taken by the ANC last December, particularly the one about the expropriation of land without compensation, as well as those that focused on the reduction of unemployment, inequality and poverty, the president said.
He reiterated that the governing party was committed to the implementation of expropriation without compensation policy because Madikizela-Mandela would only rest in peace once her people have equal claim to the country’s wealth.
Ramaphosa said Madikizela-Mandela had struggled and fought for the unity of the ANC, and that when she was told about the party’s resolution to ensure it is strengthened and renewed, she was overjoyed, as she said this had been her lifelong task.
“And we will unite the ANC her glorious movement,” Ramaphosa said.
The president said it is therefore important to renew and unite the ANC so that it becomes an effective instrument in the hands of the people to transform the country.