At a vigil on Saturday night in Mthatha, it was clear that for the ANC, life after Madiba presented an opportunity for rebirth.
Public viewing areas in Qunu were on Sunday filling up with visitors from all over the country gathering to watch Nelson Mandela’s funeral, which is taking place in the village.
The viewing area overlooking the Mandela household on the edges of the Nelson Mandela Museum in Qunu was said to be just as good as being at the Mandela home, according to Mthatha resident Veliswa Mhlathuzana, who said she had made it to the venue using back roads that went through the village of Payne. The main roads have been restricted to people who are accredited to attend the funeral.
At a vigil on Saturday night at the Walter Sisulu University (WSU) in Mthatha, it was clear that for the ANC, life after Madiba presented an opportunity for rebirth and a rewriting of the ANC’s legacy.
Former Nelson Mandela Bay deputy mayor Nancy Sihlwayi said Mandela was a prophet who at a conference in Tanzania had predicted the ANC would one day stand accused of "the negation of liberation through self-interest and self-enrichment".
She said that Mandela had been aware that state bureaucracy was by its nature corruptible and therefore "corruption should not be attributable to individuals within the members of the ANC".
She said the ANC had a strategy for remedying this situation, although she did not elaborate in her speech.
Much of the ceremony included veiled threats against the Economic Freedom Fighters, with speakers such as former presidential spokesperson Zizi Kodwa extolling Madiba's virtues as a counterpoint to the recent problems experienced within the ranks of the youth league, such as those that led to the expulsion of Julius Malema.
"Mandela did not develop these leadership qualities in jail," he said from the podium to an audience of at least 2 000 people, many among them WSU students. "It was as a member of the youth league. You must be loyal to the youth league because if you jump stages, you will see yourself as bigger than the ANC ... you will fall prey to amageza [madmen] who are not part of the ANC. You must be a leader among these madmen."
He added that economic freedom had been part of the constitution of the ANC since 1943 and that the 1949 programme of action dealt with the issue of nationalisation.
Eastern Cape education MEC Mandla Makhuphula spoke self-consciously of an ANC infiltrated and beset by exploitative capitalists. It seemed a moment of introspection mixed with some electioneering as he vowed the party would wrestle with the struggle for economic freedom in the wake of Madiba's death.