Former minister of safety and security – now the ministry of police – Sydney Mufamadi has dismissed claims that the ANC and the Mass Democratic Movement (MDM) played a role in demonising and destabilising the political career of struggle icon Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, who was laid to rest at the weekend.
In the wake of Madikizela-Mandela’s passing, a documentary titled Winnie aired on eNCA, in which an interviewee alleged Mufamadi had ordered that an investigation linking Madikizela-Mandela to a murder should be reopened.
The documentary led to public outcry after it showed how a propaganda plan was allegedly hatched, allegedly by some in the ANC, apartheid government leaders and journalists to weaken her politically.
Mafumadi conceded that in the 1980s, leaders of the MDM had taken the decision to distance the movement from Madikizela-Mandela because of the notoriety of the Mandela Football Club, which she had formed to mobilise young people to fight against apartheid.
“I need to say this […] although it was not my principal aim. There was a time when in the Mass Democratic Movement when we got worried about things that were happening around comrade Winnie Madikizela-Mandela. We had every right to be worried – things that were done by the Mandela Football Club in her name and in the name of the ANC,” Mufamadi said.
He said the concern prompted leaders of the movement to counsel Madikizela-Mandela about the club, urging her to close it down, but she had her own views about it.
“But our own political antenna informed us that there were agent provocateurs within the club, but we had no evidence, and out of frustration and after many attempts, we took the decision to distance the Mass Democratic Movement from Winnie Madikizela-Mandela,” Mafumadi said.
He said that decision was communicated to MDM and ANC leaders who were still in exile and based in Lusaka, and that the latter collective urged the leadership of the MDM to find ways of continuing to work with Madikizela-Mandela.
Highlighting that the movement continued to work closely with Madikizela-Mandela, Mufamadi said he had sought her assistance in the early 1990s to type up a speech by then ANC president Oliver Tambo – who was hospitalised at the time – which would be delivered on his behalf at the welcoming of unbanned party leaders.
He further questioned why a person or organisation that had tarnished Madikizela-Mandela’s image would later honour her by awarding her the Order of Luthuli in Silver, which was awarded to Madikizela-Mandela on Freedom Day last year.
“You don’t destroy someone and then nominate them for a national award – that is an absurdity,” Mufamadi said.
He dismissed claims that the ANC had instructed Nelson Mandela to divorce Madikizela-Mandela, saying the party did not discuss such personal matters.
“The ANC will never claim that all it did were a chronicle of unerring interventions; we have a legacy that has its negatives and positives,” Mufamadi said.
He added the governing party would never disown Madikizela-Mandela’s legacy.