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EFF 'would not exist' if Winnie Madikizela-Mandela had been ANC president: Lindiwe Sisulu

The late Winnie Mandela and EFF leader Julius Malema. File photo.
The late Winnie Mandela and EFF leader Julius Malema. File photo.
Image: Siyabulela Duda

Human settlements minister Lindiwe Sisulu said that if Winnie Madikizela-Mandela had become president of the ANC after former president Thabo Mbeki, patriarchy in the ANC and in society would have been dealt with.

And, she said, the EFF would not exist today.

Sisulu was addressing a commemorative event in honour of Madikizela-Mandela in Ngqamakhwe, in the Eastern Cape, on Thursday.

“Let us re-imagine her impact on South African politics if, after Mbeki, she had become the president - and perhaps [Jacob] Zuma after her. I am certain that the patriarchal tendencies in society and in the organisation would have been attended to. She would not have allowed us to be where we are right now,” Sisulu said.

The ANC stalwart, who died last year, would have turned 83 on September 26.

In her prepared speech, Sisulu said EFF leader Julius Malema would have not formed his own party had Madikizela-Mandela been president of the ANC.

She reflected on the ANC’s 1997 Mafikeng conference where Madikizela-Mandela was to contest Jacob Zuma for the deputy presidency of the ANC.

“When the IEC put the question to Winnie there was a tense moment, should she accept the nomination and if so what would she do if she lost against comrade Zuma? A painful moment for all who were there and she finally declined. Imagine if she had agreed and won. That would have been the first elected female deputy president of the ANC,” she said.

Sisulu evoked Madikizela-Mandela’s legacy as a feminist who was firmly against patriarchy, saying the scourge of femicide and abuse against women would have been dealt with.

“The one thing I am certain of is that the main pillar of her presidency would have dealt with these power relations that have so distorted society,” the minister said.

Lindiwe Sisulu. File photo.
Lindiwe Sisulu. File photo.
Image: Gallo Images / Lauren Mulligan

Sisulu said Madikizela-Mandela’s presidency would have aimed at protecting women.

“I am putting this across to you to indicate that we would have gained so much more, had Mam' Winnie been given the opportunity and it would have taken nothing from anybody. Imagine how much more caring we would be as a society,” she said.

Reflecting on the expulsion of Malema from the ANC and his subsequent formation of the EFF, Sisulu said it would have not happened under Madikizela-Mandela.

“Imagine further, if she was the president of the ANC, would there have been the creation of the EFF? Not that I begrudge them the right to exist, but I am certain that with Mam' Winnie at the helm of the leadership of the ANC, they would not have created their own organisation,” she said.

Sisulu said the EFF policies are “just a radical expression of our own policies”, and yet they helped in the ANC’s loss of three key metros.

“We have mismanaged the potential that we had and I wish it had worked out differently,” she added.

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