Winnie was our voice: VP

Mama Winnie Madikizela-Mandela was a symbol of the liberation movement and a voice for the oppressed people of the region, Vice-President Dr Constantino Chiwenga has said.

In a telephone interview with The Sunday Mail after a farewell service for Mama Madikizela-Mandela at Orlando Stadium in Soweto, VP Chiwenga said her courage had been an inspiration for many.

The Vice-President was among scores of dignitaries who joined thousands of people to pay their last respects to the ANC Women’s League former leader.

Mama Madikizela-Mandela died aged 81 on April 2 and was buried yesterday at Fourways Memorial Park north of Johannesburg.

Said VP Chiwenga: “She was not just for South Africa; she became a symbol of the revolution for all those who were fighting for their independence in the Southern African region.

“When her husband, Nelson Mandela, was incarcerated at Robben Island, she became the voice of the liberation movement, the voice of the ANC in South Africa and for all liberation movements.

“Her courage encouraged girls, women and men as well to pick up guns and go and fight for their liberation.”

He added: “Mama Winnie’s voice reverberated across the whole world, and that is why we had to come to pay our final respects as the Government of Zimbabwe and representing the people of Zimbabwe.

“If there was any voice that made the world understand what South Africa’s struggle was about and what Africans were fighting for, it was the voice of Mama Winnie.

“That is why she became the Mother of the Nation; and that is also why she was villified and accused of doing all sorts of things that she did not do.”

VP Chiwenga said Zimbabwe was happy that South Africans recognised the role she played and would honour her in a fitting manner.

In his eulogy, South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa said Mama Madikizela-Mandela was a visionary who championed reconciliation.

“We gather here not only to pay our final respects to a great African woman, but to affirm the common humanity that, through her life, she revealed in us,” he said.

‘’She was the Mother of the Nation because she cared for all and hated corruption. The title of Mother of Nation was more befitting and she carried it with respect and honour.’’

President Ramaphosa said Mama Madikizela-Mandela had undergone extreme torture and humiliation but never surrendered.

“In death, she has brought us all together, from near and far, across many nations and continents, to mourn, to pay homage, to remember and to fondly reminisce.

“In death, she has demonstrated that our many differences along political party and racial lines and the numerous disputes we may have are eclipsed by our shared desire to follow her lead in building a just, equitable and caring society,” he said.

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