Malema joins Winnie to honour icon Mandela
MADIBA'S former wife, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, yesterday sang the praises of expelled ANC Youth League leader Julius Malema, who formed part of her entourage during Mandela Day celebrations in Qunu.
Madikizela-Mandela and her daughter Zindzi arrived with Malema and suspended youth leaders Sandiso Magaqa and Floyd Shivambu to officially open a block of rooms at the Mzontsha Child Care Centre at Ngqeleni as part of celebrating former president Nelson Mandela's birthday.
The home was donated by the Mandela family.
Madikizela-Mandela's endorsement of Malema comes hot on the heels of her refusal to attend a Mandela Lecture delivered by President Jacob Zuma in Limpopo. In a letter she lambasted the ANC for "hurting" the Mandela family.
Malema's supporters had tried to disrupt the lecture.
Madikizela-Mandela also applauded Malema for leading the fight for economic freedom to ensure that all South Africans benefited.
She was to have opened the home with Madiba's wife, Graça Machel, but Machel left before she arrived.
They were due to open the block together after they had jointly initiated the project on Madiba's birthday last year.
Machel, who had waited for about an hour, apologised to the Mzontsha Child Care Centre that she had to go.
"I will leave the opening of the building to Mama [Madikizela-Mandela]. She is delayed, but will definitely be here. Madiba is waiting and this is his day, please forgive me," said Machel.
As soon as Machel had left, Madikizela-Mandela's entourage arrived.
Madikizela-Mandela was told by the home board chairman Mveleli Saliwa that Machel had just left and looked disappointed.
"It is a pity that my little sister Graça left," she said.
After opening the home, Madikizela-Mandela said Malema's efforts to economically liberate the country were noticed.
She referred to Malema as her grandson, saying: "Thank you very much for making us see in our lifetime that it is possible to liberate our people economically and better their lives.
"Thank you very much for leading that campaign because it is as a result of your emphasis, the youth league's emphasis, on the role we should be playing as freedom fighters."
The family was to later join Mandela for his birthday lunch at his home in Qunu, but Sowetan could not establish if Malema had joined thefamily.
Madikizela-Mandela said that "our country is in deep trouble as we make promises, and the promises are notfulfilled".
"The children [here] are lucky we made promises and the promises have been kept.
"We see our people today in the streets demonstrating against us ... it is one of the most painful things to observe that 18 years down the line we still have people who say we have failed them," said Madikizela-Mandela.
She said the leaders of the country as they celebrated the 94th birthday of Madiba should remind themselves of his legacy and the role of the ANC in bettering the lives of people.