What Winnie would have said to Wits (if they’d let her talk)

If police had not stopped Winnie Mandela from speaking at the University of the Witwatersrand this week, she would have told white voters that although this week’s election was a non-issue, “each vote cast by white South African opposition will be a vote of hope, a vote to save the country from the Nationalist political quagmire”.

A copy of Mandela’s speech was given to the Weekly Mail after the meeting had been banned and she was prevented from speaking.

She would also have responded to reports that she has been breaking the rent boycott, praised First National Bank’s MD, Chris Ball, and replied to recent criticism of the house she is building for her husband, Nelson Mandela. In the written speech, Mandela said the elections were “only an issue insofar as they reflect white political trends — the only way we have to measure to what degree the volk is finally falling apart”.

She said by making the oppressed people and the African National Congress an issue in these elections, the Nationalists had finally admitted that the real opposition to the government was the ANC. She also said that “nothing was further from the truth” than the allegations that she had been pay her rent in the face of the boycott of such payments.

“Soweto people will not pay rent because Mandela’s wife is said to have done so. I was the first to defy the concept of rent payment in May 1977 when I was exiled to Brandfort. “In the nine years I tolerated that place, I never paid rent,” she said.

She sharply criticised and threatened legal action against Nelson Botile the mayor of Soweto, for claiming that she had paid rent. She said the family lawyer, Ismail Ayob, started paying her rent when “we had the house reinstated to the family after its police occupation.

Ayob continued to do so up to the period of the launching of the rent boycott.” She also sharply attacked Frontline magazine and the author of its recent report on the “palace” she is building for her husband.

Mandela said the house was being built with royalties from her book Part of My Soul. “There are concerned fellow South Africans who believe that our leaders deserve even better than what I have done for Mandela. They formed a trust which has built Mandela’s house.” These men, she said, included Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Allan Boesak and Prince Thembumzi Dlamini.

She said “enemies of the people” were trying to drive a wedge between herself and United Democratic Front leader Albertina Sisulu. Mandela also said there was “no greater patriot” than Chris Ball, the MD of First National Bank.

She described the Munnik Commission report that found Ball had known an overdraft he authorised was intended to pay for an advertisement calling for the unbanning of the ANC as a “desperate bid to attack the country’s white business community by crucifying’ Ball.

Winnie regretted being denied the opportunity to testify before the Munnik Commission. “I would have gladly testified before it if I had been called to do so. Mr Ball has done nothing and he knew nothing about the ANC advert.”

She said white South Africa had been “hoodwinked” into believing that all was well in the township ghettoes and that the government was in complete control of the prevailing unrest.

“The killing of opponents of apartheid has become a way of life in South Africa, the security forces are running amok in the townships, shielded by the State of Emergency, they harass black communities daily, monitoring black lives for 24 hours a day, running funerals of their victims, assaulting bereaved families at graveyards as was witnessed recently at the funeral of the Matabane brothers of the Ventersdorp shoot-out with the security forces,” she said.

Mandela also charged that the police had taken control of the country. “Tragically the minority regime has lost control of the most important portfolio of any government, the police, who have taken over control of the land. There has been a quiet and subtlecoup d’état by the police. We are formally governed by a police state in which the police are a law unto themselves.

“No democratic country in the world designate such powers as those vested in the hands of the present commissioner of the South African police, Johan Coetzee. The real State President of the land, PW Botha, is merely his master’s voice”, she said.

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Mono Badela
Guest Author

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