ANC Youth League national executive committee member Magdalene Moonsamy has penned a letter on behalf of her female colleagues to Deputy Communications Minister Stella Ndabeni, charging that her "irresponsible remarks" about Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, on Facebook this week, was an "indictment on the future of young women in South Africa".
On Sunday Ndabeni took to the social networking site to express her thoughts on Madikizela-Mandela who had recently attacked President Jacob Zuma's lifestyle choices and leadership of the ANC and publically voiced her support for her "grandson" Julius Malema.
It was a short status, but loaded.
Ndabeni's comment was widely perceived as her questioning the integrity of the ANC stalwart in defence of Zuma, whom she firmly backs.
She said: "Life can be interesting, Dali Mpofu represented Julius Malema in the national disciplinary committee hearings. Mama Winnie has always seen a great leader like Madiba in Julius and now the mother of our nation sees immorality in Zuma … Who is a saint between the two of them? [President Zuma or Mama Winnie]".
Ndabeni was referring to the fact that, "interestingly", both Mpofu and Madikizela-Mandela were staunch political allies of Malema who was expelled from the ANC earlier this year.
But her comments were understood to have been in reference to Madikizela-Mandela and Mpofu's romantic relationship, while her ex-husband, former president Nelson Mandela, was imprisoned on Robben Island, which many perceived to be a direct attack on the ANC veteran.
Opening the floodgates
On Tuesday Ndabeni refused to comment to the Mail & Guardian.
Her Facebook comment comes after Madikizela-Mandela reportedly told MTV during an interview to be broadcasted next month: "How do you go out there and tell the youth, to preach the idea of one partner, when our president's culture is that he can spring up another fiancé".
Ndabeni's status opened the floodgates, with hundreds of commentators slamming Madikizela-Mandela.
But Moonsamy in the open letter to Ndabeni said: "It was the calibre of women like Mama Winnie who stood against all odds to fight for this political liberation and allow you to enjoy gender equality."
"How dare you attempt to diminish the rich legacy of Mama who has never retreated from freeing our people politically and economically?
"She is the culmination of the life of a woman who has never backed down from principle and commitment not only to the masses of South Africa but the oppressed peoples the world over," said Moonsamy.
Moonsamy said she would not have taken the time to respond to her remarks but that, as a young woman in South Africa, "I was disturbed to have found that your comments found expression in national newspapers and I believe it is extremely necessary to set the record straight on your distasteful utterances that find expression in the public domain".
"To make such irresponsible remarks as a deputy minister, especially as a young woman who represents the aspirations and dreams of millions who still live in dire poverty, remain unemployed and face the dungeons of our economic inequality is an indictment on the future of young women in South Africa," said Moonsamy.
She questioned Ndabeni's judgment in making the remark during the month in which the world celebrated Mandela's birthday. But instead Ndabeni through her comment sought to "degrade the Nelson Mandela family".
"It is especially at this time that we ought to praise the efforts of Mama for having been the backbone of a struggle that kept a nation united under the most hostile conditions had it not have been for the strength of Mama," she continued.
"Is this not actually the task of a young woman like yourself to set aside your personal persuasions in the interest of the masses?" questioned Moonsamy.
Moonsamy encouraged Ndabeni to "initiate yourself on the life of a woman who was banned, detained and imprisoned; yet her stature and resilience resonated to the world and the most apathetic to freedom".
"A woman who never sold out the mandate of her generation and the generation following her, one who never abandoned the revolution in the quest for fame and fortune and one who above all has an unrequited love for principle," said Moonsamy.
Zuma appointed Ndabeni to his executive during his second Cabinet reshuffle in October last year. The move was widely viewed as Zuma rewarding members of the youth league who dissented from the core who supported Malema, which includes Moonsamy. Ndabeni was expelled from the youth league after she broke ranks with Malema's collective in 2010.