Winnie Madikizela-Mandela: Tributes by parties and state

ANC says she will be remembered for having stood at the forefront of the struggle for women’s rights in SA



2 April 2018

Comrades and Friends,

The Madikizela and Mandela families,

Members of the African National Congress,

Fellow South Africans,

The African National Congress (ANC) and the nation today mourns the passing of a titan of the liberation struggle, a revolutionary, and a stalwart of our glorious movement – Mama Nomzamo Winifred Madikizela-Mandela. The ANC lowers  its revolutionary banner in honour of the memory of this great woman who was so loved and revered, whose name will forever be inscribed in history as having played a formative role in the history of South Africa.

Mama Winnie, as she was popularly known, would have celebrated the rich age of 82 years in September this year, but it was not meant to be. We mourn the passing of this great patriot and Pan Africanist, whose resilience and courage inspired freedom struggles not only in South Africa, but across Africa and her diaspora. Comrade Madikizela-Mandela dedicated her life to the betterment of her people and she worked for this realization right until the end of her life.

She was an inspiration to both young and old who shared her vision of an egalitarian, prosperous and free South Africa – and generations of activists not just in South Africa but around the world today deeply mourn her as we do. Such was her impact as an activist and revolutionary around the world, that until the very end of her life, she was lauded and acknowledged for her contribution to the struggles of all oppressed peoples of the world. Not so long ago, she was conferred with an honorary Doctorate of Laws by the prestigious and internationally renowned Makere University.

The life of Mama Winnie epitomized selflessness, humility, and fortitude: characteristics that she embodied throughout her life. Hers was a life where she faced the harshest of tribulations and struggles as punishment for her dedication to the liberation struggle. As her name Nomzamo testifies, she faced and underwent trials that would have broken the spirit of any human being. But hers was an extraordinary spirit that would not be quelled no matter what the hardship.

Her early exposure to apartheid in the Village of Mbongweni, Bizana in the Transkei, where she was born to Columbus and Nomathamsanqa Mzaidume Madikizela, on 26 September 1936, inspired in her a lifelong hatred of injustice and racism. It was this early exposure, and later as a young social worker in Johannesburg, that set her on a lifelong path, joining the ranks of celebrated freedom fighters of the African National Congress and the broad liberation movement in the 1950s. She counted amongst her friends and inspiration at the time the likes of Lilian Ngoyi, Helen Joseph, Ma Albertina Sisulu; Florence Matomela, Frances Baard, Kate Molale, Ruth Mompati, Hilda Berstein and Ruth First. She had a deep and passionate aversion to injustice in all its forms and it was through her social work at the then Baragwanath Hospital in Soweto that she became moved by the plight and living conditions of the black majority. This motivated her to use her learning and skills to uplift them.

Imprisonment, banning, harassment, house arrest, solitary confinement and having her husband and father of her children, Isithwalandwe Tata Nelson Mandela, imprisoned for 27 years did not break Mama Winnie’s fighting spirit. Due to her unwavering leadership her home became a pilgrimage site for many leaders and members of various communities. We can without any doubt of contradiction that her entire life was lived selflessly and in servitude. This led to her kids being victims at an early age. She became a widow and single parent while her husband lived and was incarcerated at Robben Island.

During this period Winnie embodied the values that her then husband Nelson Mandela stood and suffered for. Having passed on, the ANC commits to intensify the struggle that became her life. We will ensure that her spirit & resolve stay with us. She tirelessly campaigned for the release of Nelson Mandela and other political prisoners, gave refuge to those running from the police, harboured combatants of Umkhonto we Sizwe returning to or leaving the country, always an active part of whichever community she found herself in.

Comrade Madikizela-Mandela was an activist in her own right, and will be remembered for having stood at the forefront of the struggle for women’s rights in South Africa – taking part in a number of demonstrations against the unjust pass laws. When the ANC was banned in South Africa and the mere mention of the organisation’s name could result in imprisonment – Mama Winnie and countless other dedicated activists kept the flames of resistance burning; speaking out against apartheid, against detentions without trial, against the pass laws, and against the brutality of the apartheid regime. For this she paid a heavy price.

She was first incarcerated in 1958 and over the years would face many more such detentions and banishment including solitary confinement. Despite all these attempts to break her spirit, she remained steadfast and refused to cease with her political activism, displaying exemplary courage that made her a role model for many young women activists in South Africa.

In the advent of unbanning Mama Winnie played a crucial role as the NEC member of the ANC , a position she held for 26 years and as the President of the ANCWL. During this period she became a consistent voice of reason and a champion of the voiceless. She also embraced her role as a government Minister and member of Parliament with tenacity. Mama Winnie will be remembered for her unwavering belief in the unity of the African National Congress; and her advancing years did not prevent her from remaining an active member of the ANC.

As a veteran of the movement and the struggle she never hesitated to speak out whenever she saw the ANC going off course. At the same time, and despite her immense stature as an icon - she did so with humility and in acknowledgement of the many challenges still facing the movement and the country. We remember her qualities as an activist and a leader, and also her revolutionary discipline and commitment to the founding principles and values of the ANC. She lived and ended her life as a cadre of the ANC.

To the Madikizela-Mandela family, we share this incomprehensible loss of an icon of our struggle. Your loss and pain runs through our structures for Winnie belonged to greater family of the African National Congress and the formations of the liberation movement. We are grateful to her for having bequeathed us a lasting legacy and inspiration to serve our people. Be comforted by the knowledge that the name of this great daughter of South Africa will forever be illuminated. Go well, loyal and trusted servant of the Most High.

The African National Congress will be meeting with her family to plan the sending off of this giant of our revolution.

Lala kahle Qhawekazi! You will never, ever be forgotten.

Cde Ace Magashule,
ANC Secretary General



02 April 2018


The African National Congress (ANC) in Parliament joins South Africans in mourning the sad passing of ANC stalwart and liberation icon, comrade Mama Nomzamo Winifred Zanyiwe Madikizela-Mandela.

The Mother of Our Nation, as she was affectionately known, sacrificed her life for the liberation of our people. At the time of her passing, she was serving the people of South Africa as an ANC Member of Parliament. She had previously served as South Africa's first Deputy Minister of Arts and Culture, Science and Technology in 1994 in the first democratic government under the leadership of Tata Nelson Mandela. 

As the ANC in Parliament, though we submitted numerous motions for leave of absence on her behalf owing to her ill-health, which parliament gladly granted; we remained hopeful and optimistic that she would come back and continue to lead us in Parliament. 

The ANC and the people of South Africa have greatly imbibed from her leadership & wisdom, her selfless sacrifice and her tenacity against all odds that the Apartheid regime threw at her. She defied Apartheid banishment, detentions without trial and the pain of being a mother and father to her children because of her husband's incarceration. 

It is her undying love for her people, her commitment to the freedom of our nation, and her sacrifices in the struggle that endeared her to all South Africans, black and white.

Even though, she was an ANC MP, she remained a leader in her own right. She served the ANC and her nation until the very end. We owe our freedom to her and many other heroines and heroes like her. 

We dip our revolutionary flag in celebration of one of the greatest and most cherished daughters of the soil.   

Parliament will honour her with a condolence motion that will be debated in the National Assembly as it is customary. Lala ngoxolo Mama Winnie, mother of the nation. 

Office of the ANC Chief Whip
Hon Jackson Mthembu.




The African National Congress Women’s League (ANCWL) is shocked and devastated by the untimely passing of the ANCWL and African National Congress (ANC) greatest struggle icon and stalwart, Mam Winnie Nomzamo Madikizela Mandela.

The epitome of the struggle against inequalities, unemployment and poverty is no more.  One of the prolific women leaders our country has had is gone but will never be forgotten. She will forever remain one of the astounding activists and embodiment of ANCWL values that we will always refer to in the struggle against emancipation of women. She will forever remain an encouraging figure in the fight against patriarchy and male chauvinism in and outside politics. A selfless fighter of the unjust laws of oppression against the poor and the working class who earned herself a title of “Mother of the Nation” through her selflessness and love for all.

She endured physical and emotional torture under the apartheid regime and never thought of quitting the struggle to follow her career as a professional social worker. Because of her love of the people she remained committed to the struggle for better live for all until her last day on earth. The ANCWL takes this moment to send our deepest and most heartfelt condolences to both the Madikizela and the Mandela families. We take this moment to send our deepest and most heartfelt condolences to both the Madikizela and Mandela families as we mourn the mother of the ANCWL who led the ANCWL during the most difficult times of our country and ANC most trying times of our country when all the odds were against her.

The struggle could never have been what it became without the undying zeal and passion of Mam' Winnie both for the country and our people. The Mandela name we revere today was kept alive by her through the most difficult times. As a woman she kept the family and the hopes of all black people alive.  It's a very sad loss to women emancipation. 

Issued by Secretary General of the ANCWL

Meokgo Matuba



COSATU statement on the passing away of Mama Winnie Madikizela-Mandela

The Congress of South African Trade Unions mourns the death of the ANC struggle stalwart and Mother of the Nation -Mama Nomzamo Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, who passed away earlier this afternoon. We send our heartfelt condolences to her family, the ANC and all of her friends.

Mama Winnie Madikizela-Mandela will be remembered as one of the liberation stalwarts and heroines of the 20th Century and also for her firm devotion and sacrifices during the fight against the evil apartheid regime.

She stared down the evil apartheid regime, fearlessly fought it and ultimately outlived it. Throughout her life she remained a warrior for social justice and never shied away from speaking truth to power, even after the 1994 democratic breakthrough.

She was a fearless voice and a staunch defender of the working class interests and spoke out against the perpetuation of apartheid separate development, growing inequality and deepening poverty. She championed economic transformation without fear of favour and spoke out consistently against social injustice.

She departs at a very difficult time for the working class, when her brand of fearless leadership and selflessness is very much needed. She spoke forcefully against the excesses of the successive post 1994 democratic administrations and was disappointed by what she considered as their betrayal of the poor majority. She earned the title of the Mother of the Nation and the title of being a revolutionary, through her work amongst the people and she never allowed herself to be co-opted by the system.

The working class and the poor have lost a steadfast leader and a fearless voice. We shall forever remain indebted to her and her family that supported her during the dark days of apartheid. The best way to honour and preserve her legacy will be to continue the fight against the growing inequality and deepening poverty that continue to afflict millions of South Africans.

Lala Ngoxolo Mama WeSizwe!



A Great South African has passed

The Democratic Alliance (DA) is profoundly saddened at the news of the passing of Ma Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, who left us peacefully this afternoon. We join the African continent and freedom lovers all over the world in mourning the passing of a true freedom fighter and an iconic South African.

Affectionately known as the mother of our nation, Ma Winnie made an indelible contribution to our country.  Winnie was married to Nelson Mandela for the full duration of his 27-year incarceration, during which she kept the struggle for liberation alive during the most trying of times.

She stands as a bright light that shone a way forward for many others. Even while she opposed the apartheid government, she stood for principle, and her values outlast the struggle and apply to this day.

Throughout the struggle, she sacrificed much, constantly finding herself harassed by the apartheid state, banned, arrested, detained in solitary confinement and restricted to Brandfort – all of which failed to break her spirit and commitment to realising the dream of a united, democratic, and non-racial South Africa.

In 1985 she became the recipient of the Robert F. Kennedy Humans Rights Award, alongside Beyers Naude and Allen Boesak, for her contribution to the struggle for freedom in South Africa.

Ma Winnie, you will always be remembered for your selfless and steadfast commitment to our democracy. May your spirit live on, and we thank you for your service.

Mmusi Maimane
Leader of the Democratic Alliance




Monday, April 2, 2018

The EFF sends its revolutionary condolences on the passing of Mama Winnie Mandela. We send our heartfelt condolences to the family, the ANC, South Africans and all peoples of the world.

Mama Winnie Mandela is the stone that the builders rejected. She is the first black female president South Africa was deprived of. Her irreplaceable contribution to the liberation of our people was a subject of both Patriarchal and white minority suppression; her well deserved, tried and tested, rise into the highest seat in the country was only suppressed by the patriarchally dominated liberation movement and its complicity with white minority establishment. They hated her because she was a black woman with her own mind and who enjoyed the collective popular confidence of masses of our people. They hated her because she never compromised her message of radical black emancipation.

For denying us Winnie Mandela as the president of the Republic South Africa,  the liberation movement must bury its head in shame in this painful hour of loss.

There is no doubt that in the last two decades of the liberation struggle Winnie Mandela carried the revolutionary aspirations of black communities on her shoulders. When silence, despondency, fear and political apathy triumphed over the collective spirit of emancipation following the exile of the liberation movement and the imprisonment of its leadership. It is Winnie Mandela who exhumed this collective spirit, inspiring every street, every township, every village, every town, every City and every country in the world to brave the murderous apartheid regime and once more demand the unconditional freedom of a black child.

From Soweto to Selma, London to Sidney, scores of students, youth, workers and all peoples of the world joined the international anti-apartheid movement inspired by her tenacity, perseverance, bravery, daring and infectious love. From Morogoro to Lusaka many young men and women signed up in the ranks of Mkhonto WeSizwe inspired by her fighting spirit. She affirmed both the love and anger of black people; always committed to their right to defend their lives even in arms in the face of a deadly apartheid evil.

We bit her farewell as the stone that the builders rejected. Her memory will live long and one day a better society, free from the patriarchal hatred that suppressed her rise to be a president, will embrace a talent black woman to lead our nation. In her name we vow to accelerate and deepens the fight against patriarchy, within our own ranks and in society in general.

In her name we vow to bestow upon this land an era of economic freedom in our lifetime. One that she believed in, encouraged and commended the EFF for declaring and pursuing it. In our eyes, she is the perfect image of the Devine: she taught us to love ourselves, our country and continue the struggle for the total emancipation of our people and continent.

Hamba Kahle MaNgutyana! Hamba Kahle Mkhonto We Sizwe!

We will carry on with the revolution in your glorious and heroic name. 



Condolences on the passing of Winnie Madikizela-Mandela

The Ahmed Kathrada Foundation extends its condolences to the family, friends and comrades of            ` Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, who passed away this afternoon.

“It is with sadness that we received the news of Comrade Winnie’s passing after a period of illness that saw her in and out of hospital,” said the Foundation’s Executive Director, Neeshan Balton.

“We wish her family and friends strength during this trying time and trust that they will bear this difficult period with courage,” Balton said.

“News of her passing comes just a few days after the one year death anniversary of Ahmed Kathrada, and a few months after the passing of Laloo Chiba and Eddie Daniels. It deepens the sense of realisation that with their passing, we lose not only liberation activists, but sources of history that cannot be replaced,” he stated.

“Comrade Winnie and Ahmed Kathrada shared a strong sense of camaraderie and friendship that extended from before Kathrada’s imprisonment, when he became close to both the Sisulu and Mandela families,” said the Foundation’s Chairperson, Derek Hanekom.

“For the broader South African public, Comrade Winnie became an iconic symbol against apartheid, and especially so at a time when the ANC and other liberation organisations were almost crushed. Her militancy, courage and defiance kept the struggle against apartheid alive.

“In particular, she came to represent the struggle of black women against a system that saw them bearing the burden of a repressive regime.

“She inspired not only activists of her own generation, but those that succeeded her as well,” Hanekom added.

“Like with other iconic figures who contributed to our liberation struggle, the totality of her history and legacy will have to be reflected upon over time.”



Nelson Mandela Foundation mourns the passing away of Mama Winnie

Mama Winnie Madikizela-Mandela’s passing away is a hard blow for the Foundation. She travelled a very long road together with our Founder, Nelson Mandela. She was a member of a generation of leaders which survived the most brutal period of state terror in apartheid South Africa. And she was a friend of the Foundation.

“All South Africans are indebted to Mama Winnie, whether they acknowledge it or not,” said Foundation Chairman Professor Njabulo Ndebele. “From the witness of her life, we knew we could stand tall; we knew also we could falter and stumble. Either condition was an affirmation of life. Her cry was our cry, and in 2018 we can say we did triumph.”

We will miss her. And our country will miss her. Hamba kahle Mama.



Presiding Officers shocked and saddened at the passing of the Mother of the Nation

Parliament, Monday 2 April 2018 - The Presiding Officers of Parliament, National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete and National Council of Provinces Chairperson Thandi Modise, have expressed shock and collective grief at the passing-on of a veteran Member of Parliament and struggle icon Winnie Madikizela-Mandela today. uMam’uMadikizela-Mandela, affectionately and widely known as Mother of the Nation, passed on at the age of 81 at the Milpark Hospital in Johannesburg after a long illness.

Speaker Mbete and Chairperson Modise said as a struggle icon in her own right during years of colonial and apartheid repression, Ms Madikizela-Mandela curved her niche role in shaping the struggle for freedom and in efforts to realize the new free and democratic South Africa. She defied the repressive laws and associated patriarchy, embodied a brave character of an unflinching woman in the wake of all odds against her throughout her life. She was a solid rock, a defender of the vulnerable and defenceless.

Together with many contemporaries of her time, she was a torch bearer to gender mainstreaming, and an inspiration to millions of down-trodden women across the length and breadth of the country, across the continent and the world. She was one of her generation of struggle stalwarts that survived to be Founding Members of the democratic Parliament of South Africa in 1994. As one of the pioneer Members of Parliament and our parliamentary democracy, Ma-Winnie, as she was affectionately known, paved the way for what Parliament of South Africa has since become. Her vibrancy, unending inner and outer beauty, her passionate connection with ordinary citizens, and her witty and critical mind had contributed in keeping the critical solidarity of the women of South Africa in every facet of life. 

Our Mother has not died, she has just passed-on the baton to us, both men and women in Parliament, in government, and in the society at large, so that the ideals she lived and struggle for, can be realized in our lifetime. The challenges of poverty, inequality from a gender and race perspective, under development and many societal ills facing South Africa today, are problems she fought tirelessly eradicate, as a contribution to building a truly socially just country where all people can enjoy a great quality of life. 

She will be greatly missed, and Parliament trusts that together we will cherish and celebrate her life. Today we have indeed lost a great leader, a champion of freedom and development, a people’s hero, and a Mother, and a defender of the down-trodden.

May her soul rest in peace.



Statement by President Cyril Ramaphosa on the passing of Winnie Madikizela-Mandela

2 April 2018

It is with a profound sense of loss and deep sadness that we have learnt of the passing away of Mam’ Winnie Madikizela-Mandela. 

Even at the darkest moments of our struggle for liberation, Mam’ Winnie was an abiding symbol of the desire of our people to be free. 

In the midst of repression, she was a voice of defiance and resistance. 

In the face of exploitation, she was a champion of justice and equality. 

Throughout her life she made an everlasting contribution to the struggle through sacrifice and her unyielding determination. Her dedication to the plight of her people gained her the love and the respect of the nation. 

For many years, she bore the brunt of the senseless brutality of the apartheid state with stoicism and fortitude. Despite the hardships she faced, she never doubted that the struggle for freedom and democracy would succeed. 

She remained throughout her life a tireless advocate for the dispossessed and the marginalised. She was a voice for the voiceless. 

In the coming days, as we mourn the passing of this heroine of our struggle, let us reflect on her rich, remarkable and meaningful life. 

Let us draw inspiration from the struggles that she fought and the dream of a better society to which she dedicated her life. 

Today we have lost a mother, a grandmother, a friend, a comrade, a leader and an icon. 

As South Africans we collectively pass our condolences to the Madikizela and Mandela families. Your loss is our loss as well. 

May her soul rest in peace. 



SACP conveys its heartfelt condolences to Comrade Winnie Madikizela-Mandela’s family

The South African Communist Party conveys its heartfelt condolences to the family of Nomzamo Winifred Madikizela-Mandela, our entire national liberation alliance and South Africans in general. Madikizela Mandela, 81, passed away on Monday, 2 April 2018. Comrade Winnie as she was fondly addressed was a stalwart of our struggle for liberation. She was a resolute gender transformation activist and national democratic revolutionary. Her departure from the world of the living has left South Africa poorer without her. The SACP is deeply worried that the South African revolution is losing the veterans who contributed immensely to our struggle against colonial oppression.

In memory of Comrade Winnie, the African National Congress, the SACP and the whole of South Africa’s liberation movement, as well as the government should document the institutional memory that South Africa would lose without a detailed historical account of the contribution and sacrifices made by each one of our veterans to the course of freedom. This is extremely important both for young people and our future generations.  An accurate account of where our society comes from is crucial to our national vision for a non-racial, non-sexist, democratic and prosperous South Africa based on social emancipation.

The contribution that Comrade Winnie made to the South African revolution, her sacrifices to the course, and on the other hand the reactionary, repressive and torturous responses she endured from the apartheid regime, can produce volumes of history, humanities and social science books. Highlighting a few aspects could produce an unintended consequence of narrowing the colossal contribution and great sacrifices.

The SACP reiterates its perspective, in memory of Comrade Winnie, for the forging of a progressive women’s movement. The movement should, taking its cue from her revolutionary life and times, dedicate its focus towards ending patriarchy in our society and resolving the systemic problems of class, national and gender inequalities, unemployment, poverty and social insecurity. The working class, in particular women, are on the receiving end of the capitalist system. The movement, and indeed all peace loving South Africans, should pick up the spear, advance and deepen the second radical phase of our transition from colonialism and its legacy.

The SACP says:

Hamba Kahle Mkhonto!


SAFTU mourns passing of Comrade Winnie Mandela

The South African Federation of Trade Unions lowers its flags in honour of Comrade Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, one of the great revolutionary icons of the struggle for freedom and democracy.

Nomzamo Winifred Madikizela-Mandela was a tireless fighter against apartheid. Although thrust into the spotlight partly as a result of her 38-year marriage to Nelson Mandela, she was always a struggle leader in her own right, who fearlessly confronted the apartheid regime.

She was detained for 18 months in solitary confinement in a condemned cell at Pretoria Central Prison before being charged under the Suppression of Communism Act of 1950. 

In 1969‚ she became one of the first detainees under Section 6 of the Terrorism Act of 1967 and later she was placed under house arrest for many years in Brandfort‚ a small town in the Free State.

After the first democratic election in 1994‚ Winnie Mandela became an MP and briefly served as deputy minister of arts, culture, science and technology. She however remained an MP ever since.

She was a woman revolutionary, who was never prepared to be just Nelson’s wife but a fearless fighter, moulded in the struggle against apartheid and and a role model for women today. She will always be an inspiration for future generator of women revolutionaries.

At a time when so many leaders on the once proud African Nation Congress have been corrupted by the lure of personal wealth, it is more important then ever to remember the veterans of the past like Winnie Mandela who refused to bend under the yoke of the racist tyranny.

As shown by her experience of jail, persecution and trauma at the hands of the apartheid security apparatus and racist capitalists, she was made of a mould that will not easily be broken!

We have lost a gallant fighter in our people’s struggle of for their emancipation! Mama was no angel, just like everyone else, but she will always have a very special place in the hearts of millions. We love you mama! 

Zwelinzima Vavi, SAFTU General Secretary