READ: De Lille’s tribute to Mam' Winnie at the EFF's memorial

De Lille: "Winnie was the flower of the nation, our flower of the nations and our mother of the nation." (Gallo Images)

De Lille: "Winnie was the flower of the nation, our flower of the nations and our mother of the nation." (Gallo Images)

You know what I learned from Mama Winnie? That politics is not for sissies. Politics is not for sissies. That when you are in politics, there’s no rules for men, there’s no rules for women, there’s just the rules and she played by the rules and she played the game better than most of them.

She wasn’t the kind of politician that when you hit her on the one cheek she keeps the other cheek, she klaps you back.
She wasn’t that kind of politician. But what do we have today? Today you have a lot of plastic politicians who are there for their stomach, who are not there for the people of our country.

I will remember Mama Winnie that she remained principled. She always stayed with the principles. But where nobody could beat Mama Winnie she remained firm with the principles but flexible with tactic and strategy. That’s where Mama Winnie beat the apartheid regime, time and time again, because she understood what is tactics and strategy. So there’s a lot that we could learn from Mama.

There are many memories that I want to share with you, but let me tell you one memory and I can say it today because it’s safe to say so. I used to sit with Mama Winnie in Parliament and we used to work at questions that I will ask in parliament. And one of the questions that I asked in parliament led to my suspension out of parliament. For 15 days they suspended me, of course the court overruled them.

So Comrade Malema I was the first one to be chucked out of parliament without a hearing. But mama was so clever. Mama said to me, “Now you go in there my sister and you don’t accuse them. Just ask the question, “Can you confirm or deny that you were spies during the apartheid years?” 

And Mama gave me those names and I rambled off the names and of course I got suspended. Mama I will always remember that moment and all the many other questions that we shared together.

In 2000 in Durban, when we had a government led by then president Thabo Mbeki who believed that HIV/AIDS did not exist, we marched together in Durban with Mama Winnie to demand ARVs for our people. I said to Thabo Mbeki in parliament, “You say ARVs are toxic. Why is it not toxic for some of the members of parliament that are sitting here that are using ARVs but it’s toxic for the poor?”

So lastly, comrades, you know what? I’ve lost a dear friend. The last time she phoned me was in December and she says, “Hi man.’ You know that giggle in that husky voice. She said ‘what are those boys doing to you man? Those boys don’t know who are they dealing with.” 

And then she laughed and laughed and laughed. And I assured that “Mama Winnie I got it under control but thank you for your support.”

Last night, I played my favorite song, but I thought it is also a favorite song for mama Winnie. Because she was not only the mother of the nation, she was the flower of the nation. Listen to Jonas Gwangwa. Winnie was the flower of the nation, our flower of the nations and our mother of the nation.

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