'We never said the airport shouldn't be named after Mama Winnie': Mbalula defends ANC

ANC elections head Fikile Mbalula.
ANC elections head Fikile Mbalula.
Image: IHSAAN HAFFEJEE

Fikile Mbalula, the ANC's elections head, defended the party on Tuesday after tweeps slammed him and the ANC for "rejecting" Winnie Madikizela-Mandela's name in the process of renaming Cape Town International Airport.

This as scores of South Africans celebrated the life of the late struggle icon, who died a year ago, on April 2. Tributes and messages of remembrance flooded social media platforms as ordinary South Africans and politicians shared their fondest memories of Madikizela-Mandela.

Mbalula, who was among the politicians who shared their memories, received backlash as tweeps accused him of being a member of a party and system that "erased" the contributions made by Madikizela-Mandela in the struggle for freedom.

On March 5, the EFF proposed in parliament that Madikizela-Mandela's name be considered in the renaming of the airport.

EFF leader Julius Malema lamented the exclusion of women who contributed in the struggle against apartheid. He said women like Madikizela-Mandela were not just the wives and backers of male activists, but freedom fighters too.

This proposal was shot down by the ANC. Citing the reasons for this, the party, through its chief whip, Jackson Mthembu, said the decision to include Madikizela-Mandela's name on the list was not theirs to make, but that of Airports Company South Africa (Acsa).

During the same sitting of parliament, the party's Dikeledi Magadzi said the ANC was of the view that the multi-award-winning airport should be named after someone with "substance and virtue", someone who had been "tried and tested". 

Her utterances stirred emotions among social media users at the time, as people accused the ANC of insulting Madikizela-Mandela.

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