South Africa

Remembering Winnie

Struggle church honours ‘hero to many’ amid calls to bolster ANC ahead of elections

Struggle church honours ‘hero to many’ amid calls to bolster ANC ahead of elections

The ANC Women’s League held a memorial service for the late Winnie Madikizela-Mandela at the Regina Mundi Catholic Church in Rockville, Soweto on Thursday. Tony Yengeni, ANC national executive committee member, spoke at the gathering, along with ANC Women’s League president Bathabile Dlamini, ANC Secretary-General Ace Magashule and MP Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, among others. In between tributes, songs and performances, politicking seemed to be the real point of the pulpit. By LEILA DOUGAN.

The memorial service for the late Winnie Madikizela-Mandela in Rockville, Soweto on Thursday saw the historical Regina Mundi Catholic Church packed to capacity. Thousands of mourners wore green blouses and black doeks as images of the late Struggle icon, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, were projected on a screen just below the altar.

Photo: Mourners raise posters of Winnie Madikizela-Mandela during the memorial service for the late struggle icon at the church in Rockville, Soweto on Thursday 12 April 2018. Photo: Leila Dougan

The setting was fitting, as the church played a big role in the struggle against apartheid. During the 1976 student uprisings in Soweto, protesting students sought refuge at Regina Mundi to escape police bullets and tear gas. After democracy, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission hearings were also held in the church in the 1990s.

“We must forgive each other and… we must unite the movement. We are appealing to all of you, let us rebuild the ANC,” said Magashule.

Photo: ANC Secretary-General Ace Magashule speaks at a memorial service for Madikizela-Mandela at the Regina Mundi Catholic Church in Rockville, Soweto. Photo: Leila Dougan

He said Winnie was a “unique leader” during apartheid and that Struggle icons should be honoured and celebrated while they are still alive.

“As the ANC we must forgive each other [because] we belong to one family,” he said.

Dlamini Zuma continued in the same vane: “If all of us vote ANC, the ANC will win [the 2019 elections].”

She called for women to be at the forefront of “rebuilding ANC structures”.

Photo: MP Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma speaks at the Regina Mundi Catholic Church in Rockville, Soweto. Photo: Leila Dougan

Dlamini Zuma said jobs must be created and unemployment eradicated. She stressed that no young person should be denied education, and violence against women must be fought against.

“If we do these things we will say that we are celebrating Winnie. Fighting patriarchy means celebrating her life,” she said.

Photo: Tony Yengeni, ANC national executive committee member, at the Regina Mundi Catholic Church in Rockville, Soweto. Photo: Leila Dougan

Yengeni spoke about the need to implement radical economic transformation and free education. He also said that “white men who steal billions” must be imprisoned. He said Madikizela-Mandela is a “hero to many” and that her role in Umkhonto weSizwe must be recognised.

Thandi Moraka, deputy leader of the ANC Youth League, called for Collen Maine, ANC Youth League president, to resign with immediate effect. She also insisted that instead of the SABC showing Generations, they should be screening the Winnie documentary.

“We need to know the truth as a country, we need to know what really happened at the TRC,” she said, adding that the Madikizela family is owed an apology and that land must be handed over so that “black people can participate in the economy”.

“Queen Mother” Dr Delois Blakely, a former Roman Catholic nun and unofficial honourary mayor of Harlem, New York, gave a short speech in which she talked about how she came to Soweto during the height of apartheid in search of Winnie and how the slave trade unites black people across the world.

Photo: Thandi Moraka, deputy of the ANC Youth League, and Bathabile Dlamini, ANC Women’s League president, at a memorial service for the late struggle icon Winnie Madikizela-Mandela at the Regina Mundi Catholic Church in Rockville, Soweto. Photo: Leila Dougan

Towards the end of the service, Bathabile Dlamini emphasised women’s emancipation.

“You are going to fight patriarchy inside and outside the ANC,” she said. DM

Photo: Mourners gather at a memorial service for the late struggle icon Winnie Madikizela-Mandela at the Regina Mundi Catholic Church in Rockville, Soweto. The event was organised by the ANC Women’s League on Thursday 12 April 2018. Photo: Leila Dougan

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