The funeral of Winnie Madikizela-Mandela was turned into a political playground as some old rivalries were brought together to pay tribute to the mother of the nation.
The special state official funeral was held at the Orlando Stadium in Soweto on Saturday, following the 81-year old’s passing in hospital on April 2.
From the very start of the official programme, some of the people who filled the 40 000 capacity stadium made their views known – booing former presidents Thabo Mbeki and Jacob Zuma when their presence was announced at the funeral.
Ramaphosa with Zenani Mandela-Dlamini and Zindzi Mandela at Winnie Madikizela-Mandela’s funeral
Although only a few booed Mbeki, loud and drawn out booing was reserved for Zuma, who stepped down as the country’s head of state in February.
Most of the EFF supporters left the stadium following a blistering tribute to the liberation hero by their commander in chief, Julius Malema.
Earlier, Malema’s speech opened up all wounds when he directly addressed the fallen hero and said, “Mama, there are sell-outs here”.
“Equally, big Mama, some of those who sold you [out] to the regime are here and are crying louder than all of us who stood by you,” said Malema.
He mentioned the United Democratic Front distancing itself from Madikizela-Mandela over the killing of young Stompie Seipei, the ANC Women’s League national executive committee members who resigned en-masse after the struggle hero was convicted of fraud and theft, saying that they claimed they could not be led by a criminal.
The EFF leader, who once described Madikizela-Mandela as the”brick the builders rejected”, berated the liberation movement for not allowing the struggle hero to speak when then president of the ANC youth league, Peter Mokaba, died.
“You [Madikizela-Mandela] trusted that your mission of putting the country first was embraced by an organisation that you loved; but Mama, you did not know that your organisation had been rendered incapable of loving you back,” said Malema.
And even though he lauded President Cyril Ramaphosa at the start of his address, Malema later hit out at him, without mentioning his name, over the killing of striking mineworkers in the North West’s Marikana tragedy in 2012.
“Mama, the widows of Marikana are still in tears. What do I tell them; what about those who killed their husbands for selfish gains? What do we do with them? Give us a sign Mama,” said Malema.
Ramaphosa, who delivered the eulogy, not only acknowledged some of the accusations levelled by Malema against the ANC but also apologised for the party having failed to honour the iconic political activist and long-time party member while she was still alive.
“She bandaged our wounds. We did not do the same for her,” Ramaphosa said.
He said he would ask the ANC’s national executive committee to award her the highest honour awarded to stalwarts in the party, called Isithwalandwe or Seaparankoe.
Ramaphosa, who had been promised to be taken to Marikana by Madikizela-Mandela to formally apologise to the widows of the 34 miners who were killed, said that although she passed on before it could happen, he would honour her wishes.
“I am going to go to Marikana without you, but I will be guided by your spirit. I know that Julius [Malema] will come with me so that we can heal the wounds of those in Marikana,” said Ramaphosa
Madikizela-Mandela’s own daughters gave a tribute to their mother, with ambassador Zenani Mandela-Dlamini defending the legacy of a “woman who dared one of the most evil and powerful regimes of the past century and triumphed”.
She slammed those who came out following Madikizela-Mandela’s death about the apartheid regime’s propaganda machine aimed at tarnishing the icon’s name, specifically mentioning the former police commissioner George Fivaz.
“Why have they sat on the truth and waited until my mother’s death to tell it? It is so disappointing to see how they withheld their words during my mother’s lifetime, knowing very well what they would have meant to her,” said Mandela-Dlamini.
She said those who vilified her mother should not for one moment think that the family would forget that.
“Praising her now shows us what hypocrites you are!
“The pain inflicted on her lives on in us.”
She also questioned why men in the struggle weren’t subjected to the same scrutiny, and said, “double standards obscure the immense efforts of women” in the struggle.
“The battle for our freedom wasn’t some polite picnic to which you came armed with your best behaviour.”
As the event drew to a close, a sombre mood returned to the stadium.
The heavens opened, and a thunderous downpour drenched the mourners with some crying as they escorted their beloved “mother of the nation” to her final resting place.