Jacob Zuma remembers Struggle stalwart Andrew Mlangeni as a wonderful comrade
Durban - Former President Jacob Zuma has described late Struggle stalwart Andrew Mlangeni as a gentleman and wonderful comrade who was easy going and with whom he loved discussing politics during their imprisonment on Robben Island.
Mlangeni, who was the last surviving Rivonia trialist, died aged 95, at the 1 Military Hospital in Pretoria on Wednesday.
Zuma said on Friday, during an ANC memorial for the veteran, that Mlangeni had been at the forefront of numerous stages of the Struggle for liberation, including the Defiance Campaign and the formation of Umkhonto We Sizwe as the ANC intensified its struggle against apartheid.
He said that as the ANC waged its Struggle for liberation, Mlangeni belonged to a group who “came at the right time into the ANC.”
“I would say we have time, let us discuss politics and so we would discuss issue to issue and he was very helpful to help us understand politics. We developed a friendship with comrade Mlangeni, my leader,” he said.
Zuma said Mlangeni had joined the ANC at the beginning of the 1950s, when it was changing from a stance of being an organisation that was clear in what it was looking for in determination to liberate the South African people at all costs, but determined to do it in a manner that was reasonable, understandable and that everybody should feel part of a new country that would emerge.
“In the 1940s, the ANC Youth League that had emerged had very clearly indicated that they cannot continue like the old leadership was. They wanted action.
“In their conference of 1949, they took a decision to recommend a programme of action to the mother body and indeed the mother body adopted that position from the ANC Youth League which talked about the need to undertake a number of actions to move away from just statements and one of the recommendations was the matter of undermining the racist laws called the defiance campaign,” said Zuma.
He said that it was during that period that people like Mlangeni, who had been in the trade unions and participated in strikes, had come to the fore as activists as a part of the Youth League that had coined the term “Freedom in our lifetime.”
“When Mlangeni came in, he became part of the volunteers and the volunteer core and therefore in the changing of the ANC, Mlangeni was part of it and many other comrades,” said Zuma.
He further stated that this period had shaped the ANC differently from other political parties in South Africa and the continent as a whole.