Malema to speak at Winnie’s funeral despite ANC qualms
Disquiet among some ANC leaders about Malema ‘hijacking’ the event
EFF leader Julius Malema is billed to speak at Winnie Madikizela-Mandela’s funeral on Saturday after a special request from her family.
There have been behind-the-scenes negotiations on the issue due to disquiet among some ANC leaders about Malema “hijacking” the event.
Government spokesperson Phumla Williams confirmed on Wednesday night that Malema was scheduled to speak as per “the last programme I saw”.
But EFF spokesman Mbuyiseni Ndlozi said he could not confirm whether Malema would address the funeral.The special official funeral is being arranged by the state in consultation with the ANC and Madikizela-Mandela’s family. It is understood the family requested that Malema speak because of the special relationship the two shared.
But some ANC leaders are apparently worried that Malema will use the platform to “claim” Madikizela-Mandela from her party or attack the ANC.
At the EFF’s memorial service in Brandfort on Wednesday, Malema launched a blistering attack on ANC chairperson Gwede Mantashe over comments he made at an earlier memorial service that there would be “chaos” at Madikizela-Mandela’s funeral.
“That’s Winnie's character‚ it was chaos,” Mantashe said in Brandfort on Monday.
Malema hit back, saying: “Winnie Mandela’s funeral will never be chaos … I forgive Gwede. He joined the ANC in 1992. He is not qualified to talk about Winnie Mandela. He is an ant, he is a nobody,” said Malema.
Malema also condemned President Cyril Ramaphosa for dancing during the mourning period at the celebration ceremony of the Balobedu rain queen in Limpopo.But an ANC national executive committee member said the request for Malema to speak at Madikizela-Mandela’s funeral had to be considered as it was “a reality that they are very close”.
“Mama loved Julius. As the ANC we can’t say no because he is coming from another party,” he said.
The ANC NEC member said there had been an overall spirit of unity and co-operation across society since Madikizela-Mandela’s passing and at her memorial services that should be carried through to her funeral on Saturday.
Wednesday’s official memorial service at Orlando Stadium and the EFF memorial service in Brandfort (where she had been banished by the apartheid regime) integrated speakers from various political parties.
ANC NEC member Siyabonga Cwele received a standing ovation when he spoke at the EFF event, particularly when he called for unity over the land issue.
“Let us unite to ensure that the land which was dispossessed from the majority is returned to the majority,” Cwele said.EFF national chairman Dali Mpofu, who chaired the service, said this was the first time the ANC had shared the stage with the EFF.
“It took Winnie Mandela for this to happen,” Mpofu said.
Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille delivered a particularly poignant address and wept after speaking about her relationship with Madikizela-Mandela and their collaboration over fiery questions De Lille asked in parliament.
She also spoke of the support she received from Madikizela-Mandela, including in her current troubles with the DA.
De Lille revealed that she had received a call from Madikizela-Mandela in December asking: “What are those boys doing to you?”
‘A UNIFIER AND VISIONARY’
“I said Mam’ uWinnie, I’ve got it under control, but thanks for your support. She was not the kind of a politician that when you hit her on one cheek, she gives you the other cheek; she klapped you back,” said De Lille.
EFF deputy leader Floyd Shivambu attended the government memorial service at Orlando Stadium which was addressed by among others IFP leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi.
Deputy President David Mabuza said in his address that Madikizela-Mandela was “a unifier and a visionary of note. In the past few days, Mama Winnie’s sense of universalism was echoed by millions across the world, and the visits to her home by various leaders and people from different political persuasions is a testimony to her status as a global freedom fighter,” said Mabuza.