Johannesburg - Former police minister and now African National Congress head of elections Fikile Mbalula on Saturday urged the breakaway Economic Freedom Fighters to "come back home" to the ANC, saying it was struggle icon Winnie Madikizela-Mandela's wish for EFF leader Julius Malema to rejoin the ANC.
"It was mama Winnie's wish for Malema and the EFF to come back to the ANC. We will continue to beg them to come back home mama," Mbalula said at Madikizela-Mandela's funeral at the Orlando Stadium in Soweto, Johannesburg.
Mbalula said he and other young people had felt the brunt of repression under the apartheid regime, being arrested as the youth in their teens. "It was mama Mandela and others who were at the forefront of exposing that. Her love for young people of this country must embolden us to work harder for jobs and education," he said.
ANC national chairman Gwede Mantashe took exception to Malema's scathing criticism of the ANC's "failure" to properly honour and celebrate Madikizela-Mandela.
"We are here to celebrate and mourn, not open up old wounds. If we are going to do that, we are going to open up old wounds on the day of departure of mama Winnie. It could be a worse thing to do to use funerals to fight battles. Funerals are about celebrating the lives of those who departed," Mantashe said.
"We are here to celebrate the life of a great leader of the ANC. We are sending off a leader of the people, a friend of the workers. The commander of the people who was in the belly of the beast. She commanded the ground. She was there all the time. The spirit of mama Winnie must unite the ANC."
Mantashe said the ANC would now honour her legacy where it had failed to do so, especially in building a museum at the Free State house to which she was banished during apartheid. "We must commit that we have not honoured our commitment. We will now honour. I'm talking about the house in Brandfort," Mantashe said.
ANC Women's League president Bathabile Dlamini said the women in the ANC had not done enough to uplift Madikizela-Mandela. "Mam Winnie, we must confess we allowed patriarchy to oppress you," she said.
Dlamini concluded by requesting the government to name a "Winnie Mandela Day", and said the honour of Isithwalandwe should be bestowed on Madikizela-Mandela posthumously.
African News Agency/ANA