The ANC marked the one-year anniversary of the death of liberation stalwart Winnie Madikizela-Mandela. Picture: Ayanda Ndamane/African News agency/ANA

Cape Town - The ruling African National Congress (ANC) on Tuesday marked the one-year anniversary of the death of liberation stalwart Winnie Madikizela-Mandela.

Madikizela-Mandela, or Mama Winnie as she was fondly known, died in Johannesburg last year following a period of ill health. She was 81.

In a statement, the ANC, of which Madikizela-Mandela was a long-standing luminary, said: "As we mark the anniversary of the passing of an icon of our generation, Mama Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, we celebrate her life and what she came to represent.  

"She was the indomitable spirit of the poor, the oppressed and those without a voice, wherever they may be in the world. She was the champion of their cause, stood up for them when their knees were too wary (sic) to stand any longer, spoke for them when their voices were silenced.  Her spirit lives on the women of Palestine, the Saharawi Republic, Venezuela, Syria, Cuba, Libya, the Rohingya Muslims of Myanmar, and everywhere else in the world where their voices are silenced by patriarchy and brutal oppression."

The ANC said Madikizela-Mandela had been "a voice of courage, hope, encouragement and a deep love of our country and all its people, left us a year ago".  

"It has been a year of commissions of enquiry to look into the dark roots of all things corrupt. It has been a year of change and renewal for the ANC as it faced the probing eyes of the country. It has been a year of remembering the great strides of progress we achieved in a short 25 years, a truly remarkable feat. Free education became a reality for millions in our institutions of learning. Freedom of speech, freedom to live anywhere we wish became the norm, rather than an exception. However, true equality in the eyes of the law and economic freedom remain elusive and work in progress, despite great strides to realise these. Mama Winnie was complex, yet kind. Her true love was all of us and we miss her dearly."

Earlier this year, President Cyril Ramaphosa conferred on Madikizela-Mandela the ANC’s highest honour for a life of dedication to the liberation of her people.  

"Her name is permanently inscribed in the ANC’s Hall of Fame alongside those of the giants of our struggle such as Father Trevor Huddlestone, Oliver Tambo, Nelson Mandela, Charlotte Maxeke, Lilian Ngoyi, Ray Alexander Simons and many others whose legacy continues to define the character of the ANC."

The ANC said Mama Winnie had dedicated her life to serving the poor in every part of the country and she was known for her bravery and uncompromising fight for the freedom of all South Africans.  

"After the Rivonia trial and sentencing of the high command of the ANC and MK, she was singled out by the apartheid regime, banned and placed under house arrest, detained without trial and banished from her Soweto home to Brandfort," the statement added. "No amount of vilification, torture, imprisonment, having her every move shadowed by the apartheid regime, diminished her spirit. She stood tall, a colossus against the raging winds of patriarchy and repression and raised her fist in defiance against injustice."

African News Agency (ANA)