Today's political leaders not fit even to tie Mama Winnie's shoelaces

Winnie Mandela circa 1977 in Brandfort, the Free State town she was banished to by the apartheid regime.
Winnie Mandela circa 1977 in Brandfort, the Free State town she was banished to by the apartheid regime.
Image: Tiso Blackstar Archives

The goal of all life is death, said Sigmund Freud. Indeed, the process of dying begins the moment we are born.

What is important is what we do with the fleeting gift of life. These weighty questions are worth pondering as the country mourns the passing of Struggle icon, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela.

Dealt a bad hand by the cruel apartheid regime at the prime of her life, Mama Winnie did not choose the easy way out but chose instead to fight the system with all her might.

The more they persecuted her, the harder she resisted.

She must be smiling from the heavens as her heroism was replayed over the past two weeks since her death.

The cacophony of those who would rather tarnish her memory without interrogating what it felt like to walk in her shoes has been muted by her undoubted indomitable spirit.

South Africans have given her a fitting farewell even as politicians disgraced themselves trying to score political points on her grave.

The failure by Free State to build her a museum at her old house in Brandfort where she was banished must rank as the height of hypocrisy by her political party, the ANC.

The same people who failed to build the museum in her honour, notably the former premier of that province, Ace Magashule - now secretary-general of the ANC - , saw nothing wrong in rushing to her house to pay their respects.

Magashule was brave enough to tell the cameras that he was not ashamed that the museum was yet to be built 11 years since it was planned. This is the man who only a week before Mama Winnie's death, saw nothing wrong in spending R20-million on his farewell as premier.

Surely his conscience should nudge him to bow his head in shame. But such is the calibre of today's politicians that accountability has become foreign in the higher echelons of leadership.

It beggars belief that he would use government funds to entertain his supporters while he could not deliver the museum at a fraction of the cost of a farewell party.

Mama Winnie's dilapidated house in Brandfort does not need millions of rands to restore since its heritage value lies in preserving it to its original state.

To hear politicians eulogise her now that she's gone while they failed her while she was alive shows a shocking moral ineptitude.

This issue of the phantom museum ranks along the millions of rands that were squandered by Eastern Cape politicians after Nelson Mandela died. Under the pretext of organising events around his death, they looted the state coffers for their own enrichment even as the country was in mourning.

Mama Winnie's museum needs to happen soon.

That's the least she deserves for the role she played in freeing her people from the bondage of oppression.