Home News #WinnieMandela Hamba Kahle to a powerful figure

#WinnieMandela Hamba Kahle to a powerful figure

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The world reacted with sadness to the news and many praised her for her efforts in the Struggle against apartheid.

9/26/14 Former Nelson Mandela's wife Winnie Madikizela-Mandela joins guests as they toasted in celebration of her 78th birthday party held at Vilakazi's street in Soweto. Picture:Paballo Thekiso

As news of Winnie Madikizela-Mandela’s death broke, many high-profile personalities and organisations from South Africa and across the world reacted with sadness to the news and many of them praised her for her efforts in the Struggle against apartheid.

Cosatu national spokesperson Sizwe Pamla said while many ANC leaders wanted praise for being incarcerated or going to exile during the fight against apartheid oppression, Madikizela-Mandela led and sustained the battle for liberation in the country.

“We mourn the death of Mama Winnie. If there is one thing we all agree on in this country, it is that we are all indebted to her. This is the person who, when everyone had been chased out of the country, when all our political parties were going to exile, kept the fires burning and kept the international community aware of the atrocities of apartheid, and she never wavered,” Pamla said.

SACP national spokesperson Alex Mashilo said Madikizela-Mandela’s death had dealt a huge blow to the institutional memory of the liberation movement as she was one of the few senior stalwarts left.

“It leaves South Africa poorer without her because we are now losing the institutional memory of our history, our Struggle and the story of how we arrived where we are as a country,” Mashilo said.

The ANC Women’s League said the Struggle could never have been what it became without the “undying zeal and passion” of Mam’ Winnie, both for our country and for our people.

“As a woman she kept the family and the hopes of all black people alive,” the league said.

IFP leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi said he had hoped that Madikizela-Mandela would pull through and recover from her ill-health, which had been troubling her for some years. 

He said Madikizela-Mandela liked “to tell the truth for the sake of speaking the truth.We have lost a real freedom fighter, a leader of our generation who is one of the few who still existed in our country.”

He said she was not only respected because she was married to an icon, “but she was an icon in her own right because she has her own liberation Struggle credentials. She really suffered for the liberation of our country, because in various ways the apartheid regime really persecuted her. 

“She was jailed, she was detained, she was restricted, she was even exiled to Brandfort in the Free State.”

United Democratic Movement leader Bantu Holomisa said Madikizela-Mandela would be remembered as a feisty and vocal freedom fighter who did not hesitate to speak her mind.

“She sometimes made for a controversial figure, and whether one agreed with her views or not, one must admire the fact that she never lacked the courage of her convictions. She was strong, passionate, articulate and charismatic. She did not shirk confrontation, but also had a sense of humour and a light-hearted side,” Holomisa said.

DA leader Mmusi Maimane said: “She was truly an incredible Struggle hero. She played her role in the liberation of South Africa. Indeed may her soul rest in peace. She finished the course, ran the race.”

EFF deputy president Floyd Shivambu said Madikizela-Mandela agreed with the party’s pursuit of economic freedom and that she was one of those who was never ashamed to be seen with the leadership of the EFF.

On the international front, US civil rights activist Rev Jesse Jackson was among those who took to Twitter to pay tribute to Winnie. 

“In the darkest hours of the struggle to free South Africa, with Nelson Mandela in prison, the face of hope and courage was Winnie Mandela. May she forever rest in power,” he tweeted.

AU Commission chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat said she would be remembered as a global icon, a fearless campaigner who sacrificed much of her life for freedom in South Africa and for women everywhere. 

US politician Maxine Waters, who had worked closely with Madikizela-Mandela, said: “Today I mourn the loss of my dear friend and one of the greatest leaders and activists in the world: Winnie Mandela. We should all pay tribute to Winnie’s persistence in the face of injustice and racism.”

The UN’s Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women) also paid tribute in a tweet, saying: “Despite all odds, Winnie Mandela fought courageously against all forms of oppression. Today, we carry the torch and continue to work towards a more equal and just world. R.I.P. Winnie Mandela.”