Former cabinet minister Trevor Manuel on Thursday night, gave an emotional account of the fortitude and warmth of his “mummy”, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, but also did not hold back as he laid into an African National Congress (ANC) leader during a memorial service in Cape Town.
Speaking at St. George’s Cathedral, which was packed for the memorial, Manuel expressed his irritation over the inability of the Free State government, and in particular its former premier and now ruling ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule, to honour its promise of restoring the house in Brandfort to which Mam’ Winnie was banished to in 1977 and turning it into a museum.
The house remains dilapidated with little to no work having been done, and has been dogged by allegations of corruption.
Manuel said given how quickly Magashule had approved the Estina dairy project in the Free State, from which the Gupta family is alleged to have laundered millions of rands, he did not accept that it took 11 years for the Brandfort house project to take off.
“He now informed us this minuscule project to restore the house to which our mother was banished has taken 11 years….where is the money that was budgeted?” Manuel asked.
“We must be able to take our children and our public servants there and remind them of the words of Madiba at his inauguration that ‘never, never and never again’…we must call it out for what it is and we must say no to it and we must assert that that house in Brandfort be a memory to the pain and suffering of Mam’ Winnie.”
Manuel recalled driving from Cape Town to Brandfort in the 80s to visit Madikizela-Mandela.
“When I arrived there she held me for very long and I think that crazy act created this bond between us,” he said.
The former cabinet minister also recalled how when his wife was having a tough time when appointed chief executive of South Africa’s state-owned freight and logistics company, Transnet, because people treat state-owned enterprises as “their inheritance”, Madikizela-Mandela had called Maria Ramos for lunch.
“And after lunch Mam’ Winnie said to Maria, I want you to watch this. She put her arm around Maria and walked from office to office and said to the occupants of the offices: ‘ This is my daughter, mess with her you mess with her mother’. Peace was immediately established at Transnet.”
Manuel said he visited his mummy in hospital last year and was greeted with her signature giggle.
“And when we went in, and [stood] on either side of the bed touched her hands, she opened her eyes and giggled and said I knew you would come.”
Madikizela-Mandela remained loyal to the ANC to the bitter end, said Manuel, but during the hospital visit, it was clear she was not happy with the direction the party was headed at the time.
“She said this ANC is such a disappointment. It has become the den of thieves. I’m sure your father is turning in his grave,” Manuel quoted her as saying.
He then conceded he had not done much fix what was happening, adding it was time for people to rededicated themselves to Mam’ Winnie’s “spirit of no compromise”.
“In that admission and in spirit of mam’ Winnie, we must all recommit to aluta continua [the struggle continues].”