JOHANNESBURG, April 14 – President Cyril Ramaphosa promised on Saturday that he would visit Marikana in the North West to honour one of Winnie Madikizela-Mandela’s wishes, and also apologised on behalf of the African National Congress to her and her family for failing to give her the honour she deserved.
Ramaphosa has not set foot in Marikana since 34 people, mostly mine workers, were shot dead by police on August 16, 2012 during a violent wildcat strike over wages at Lonmin’s platinum mine, of which Ramaphosa was a non-executive director at the time.
“Mama, you are gone now. We were still supposed to do a lot of things together. I am going to go to Marikana without you, but I will be guided by your spirit. I know that Julius [Malema, Economic Freedom Fighters leader] will come with me so that we can heal the wounds of those in Marikana,” Ramaphosa said at Madikizela-Mandela’s funeral in Soweto, Johannesburg.
Ramaphosa said he would move a motion in the ANC for the party to bestow Madikizela-Mandela with the highest honour in its ranks. He said that shortly before Madikizela-Mandela’s death they had a conversation about her concerns where she spoke of a desire for unity within the ANC.
“As we bid her farewell, we are forced to admit that too often as she rose, she rose alone. Too often, we were not there for her. She had been left to tend her wounds on her own for most of her life. Left alone to fend for herself only caused her more pain. But she touched our wounds all the time. Mama, I am sorry that your organisation delayed in giving you your honour.
“As president of the African National Congress I will be proposing to the national executive committee that the ANC award you the highest honour of our movement, Isithwalandwe. You deserve to be awarded the Seaparankoe,” Ramahosa said.
Maya Angelo’s poem ”Still I rise” could have easily been written to describe the life of anti-apartheid struggle icon Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, said President Cyril Ramaphosa.
He read out the poem to thousands of mourners gathered for the funeral at Orlando Stadium in Soweto, Johannesburg before describing Madikizela-Mandela’s resilience at the height of the apartheid regime, decrying her pain as she held the fort when her former husband Nelson Mandela and other African National Congress leaders were in prison and some in exile.
”They sought to denigrate her with bitter and twisted lies, but still she rose. They wanted to see her broken, with bowed head and lowered eyes, and weakened by soulful cries, but still she rose,” he said as he delivered the eulogy for Madikizela-Mandela.
Her own party, the ANC, was not there for her when she rose during those tumultuous times, he said. ”As we bid her farewell, we are forced to admit that too often as she rose, she rose alone. The day after she died, the ANC’s top six leaders went to her home to pay our condolences to her family. [Eldest daughter] Zenani Mandela, reflecting on her mother’s life and overcome by emotion, said ‘My mother suffered. She had a very difficult life’. Then she burst into tears. ‘That statement and those tears have stayed with me since that day,” Ramaphosa said.
Madikizela-Mandela had been left to tend to her own pain alone. ”Left alone to fend for herself only caused her more pain. But she touched our wounds all the time. When we lost our loved ones, when people were in pain, overcome with anger, prone to violence, she came to touch our wounds. She bore witness to our suffering. She bandaged our wounds… we did not do the same for her,” Ramaphosa said.