Thabo Mbeki Foundation recalls Winnie Madikizela-Mandela's abhorrence of patriarchy

03 April 2018 - 12:05 By Timeslive
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Former South African President Thabo Mbeki. File photo.
Former South African President Thabo Mbeki. File photo.
Image: Gallo Images / Sunday Times / Alaister Russell

Former president Thabo Mbeki and his foundation said Nomzamo Winnie Madikizela Mandela was much revered and an outstanding militant‚ in a tribute to the struggle veteran who died in hospital in Johannesburg on Easter Monday.

On a personal note‚ Mbeki said she was viewed by many as "a loving and caring person‚ a shoulder to cry on".

Outlining her political credentials‚ the foundation noted: "Her common touch was always primary for her. She had a very definite view about the distinctive role of women in the struggle‚ which role they did not owe to the benevolence of the men. She denounced patriarchy in the Movement‚ as much as she had a profound disdain for a movement that was distant from the daily travails of the poor."

"For all of that‚ she was a leader of the ANC of a special kind. There are not many who were like her. The women and men within the ANC and beyond have much to learn from her.

"The Patron of the Thabo Mbeki Foundation‚ the Board of Trustees‚ the CEO and staff send our condolences to the Madikizela and the Mandela Families‚ to her daughters Zenani‚ and Zinzi (sic)‚ and share their grief at this hour of bereavement. To all of them we say our prayers are with you. May the great militant and leader rest in peace."

The comments by Mbeki and the foundation come as Anglican Archbishop Emeritus Njongonkulu Ndungane recalled how Madikizela-Mandela had stood up to Mbeki during his presidency.

The church leader recounted this anecdote:

“I have abundant memories of her forthright personality and her determination to protect the marginalised of society. So it was that Mama Madikizela-Mandela played a leading role in the 13th International Aids Conference in 2000 in Durban‚ at the height of the Aids denialist movement.

“Not long before President Thabo Mbeki had scolded delegates for closing their minds to questions about HIV and Aids‚ Mama appeared in an ‘HIV-positive’ T-shirt‚ demanding treatment for the 4‚2 million South Africans living with the virus.

“Mama Madikizela-Mandela was never afraid to be controversial in her advocacy for the vulnerable‚ describing the annual death from HIV/Aids at the time as a ‘social holocaust’‚ and accusing the government of betraying the people who had voted it into power‚ and of becoming obedient servants to multinational pharmaceutical companies.

“Following the 2000 conference‚ she then joined me and a number of other civil society leaders in marching through the streets of Durban to publicise the cause of HIV/Aids‚” said Ndungane.

Madikizela-Mandela’s relationship with Mbeki started off relatively well and she campaigned for him to be elected president of the ANC. But relations soured during his term of office and he publicly rebuffed her at a June 16 rally in Soweto in 2001. It is not known if they privately reconciled in their retirement years.

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