Johannesburg - Johannesburg mayor Kabelo Gwamanda and Gauteng Premier Panyaza Lesufi led the renaming of William Nicol Drive to Winnie Mandela Drive yesterday.
Gwamanda praised Madikizela-Mandela for her bravery and resilience which characterised her fight against apartheid.
The renaming coincided with what would have been Madikizela-Mandela’s 87th birthday. She died in April 2018.
Gwamanda said her legacy of courage in the fight against apartheid would continue to be the cornerstone of what made her one of the leading figures in the country’s Struggle for freedom.
“This symbol marks not just the life of a heroine but a beacon of hope on which our history was defined. It is, however, in my view that South Africa was denied the opportunity to have the first female president on the African continent.
“An opportunity that could have united the nation in a cause that is unambiguous where the redistribution of land and wealth reform is central to service delivery in the form of restitution. Instead, we grapple with cognitive dissonance all while losing the confidence of the nation as a result of legislative limitations and constitutional impediments,” the mayor said.
The renaming came a day after the death of Madikizela-Mandela’s granddaughter, Zoleka Mandela, who died on Monday evening after a long battle with cancer.
Lesufi praised Madikizela-Mandela, saying the occasion was more than just a name change.
“This street is not about Mama Winnie Nomzamo Madikizela-Mandela. This street is about all of us. She is just a symbol of who we are and where we come from. If we had a choice, this street would carry the names of all our leaders, especially women who led our Struggle against apartheid,” Lesufi said.
The ANC said in 2018 that it had successfully put forward a motion in the Johannesburg City Council to rename William Nicol Drive to Winnie Mandela Drive.
“This proposal reflected a broader effort to encourage social cohesion as a critical fabric of our society through the celebration of the country’s heritage and history,” the party said.