Deputy secretary-general of the ANC Jessie Duarte and Deputy President David Mabuza paid tribute to Winnie Madikizela-Mandela at Orlando Stadium in Soweto on Wednesday.
Both political leaders recalled her contribution to the struggle and her desire to see unity within the governing ANC.
“She was an unselfish woman … She wished for the unity of the ANC. For the petty struggles to disappear. She wanted people within the party to understand that without the party, we are nothing,” said Duarte.
Mabuza also honoured the values Mam Winnie stood for: “She valued collective leadership. She stood for the truth. She fought against factionalism and personality camps … She always sought solutions to unite our people.”
Both recognised the need for Madikizela-Mandela’s example to be followed. Mabuza called for more social workers to adopt her attitude, while Duarte implored the country to continue with the plan to expropriate land without compensation.
Duarte told the crowd, the country was already beginning to meet one of Madikizela-Mandela’s dreams – free education.
“Know that there is no walking away from the truth, from Mam Winnie’s life’s work that the land must be returned to the people,” said Duarte.
“This is our heroine. We know her worth,” said Duarte.
The deputy president said she joins “the gallery of South Africans whose struggle for victory led them to achieve great things.”
“In you, Mam Winnie, we have learnt to forgive in your unending love. … You struck terror in the hearts of racial discrimination and you have set the bar high for those who follow you,” said Mabuza.
“In letting you go, we surrender you to the universe, letting the ancestors wipe the tears that you refused to shed in life,” he continued.
AZAPO leader Strike Thokoane also paid tribute to Madikizela-Mandela, calling on AZAPO and the ANC’s shared struggle for the end of apartheid, even though the parties had different political ideologies.
“We are heartened when we hear that the struggle needs to continue. … Every inch of the land that is arable must be taken back. … Our job, as Azania, is to continue with the struggle until Freedom Day comes,” said Thokoane.