Plans are under way to name a street in honour of Winnie Madikizela-Mandela as per President Hage Geingob’s directive in 2015, Swapo Party Women’s Council (SPWC) secretary Eunice Ipinge told New Era yesterday.
Madikizela-Mandela, the hero of the anti-apartheid struggle in South Africa and ex-wife of that country’s first democratically-elected president Nelson Mandela, died in Johannesburg on Monday after a persistent illness. She was 81.
South Africa’s new president, Cyril Ramaphosa yesterday confirmed that the former first
lady will be honoured with a state funeral.
Ipinge said the gesture to name a street after Madikizela-Mandela was long overdue.
According to media reports from 2015, President Geingob had promised the late Madikizela-Mandela during a dinner before the Africa Union Summit in South Africa that year that he would invite her to Namibia to honour her for her contribution to Namibia’s liberation struggle. It was not stated then what the honour would be.
Ipinge yesterday told New Era that plans are afoot at the City of Windhoek to name a street after the deceased, dubbed as “Mother of the Nation” in South Africa.
Ipinge described the late Madikizela-Mandela as a freedom fighter, a voice of defiance and resistance and a champion of justice and equality, who dedicated her life to democracy and to free South Africa and other African countries from oppression.
“As Swapo Party Women’s Council we share the same sorrow with the sister party (South Africa’s ruling ANC) and South Africa in general for the loss of the liberation freedom fighter who dedicated her life for the liberation of her country and other African countries,” Ipinge said. Ipinge said the last time she met Madikizela-Mandela was in 2002 when she visited Namibia on invitation by SPWC.
Also joining the rest of the world in paying tribute to Madikizela-Mandela yesterday was Speaker of the National Assembly Professor Peter Katjavivi.
“We join our South African colleagues in paying tribute to this courageous woman who joined the ranks of many other freedom fighters both here and in South Africa, who defied and rejected the oppressive apartheid system till the very end,” he said.
South African-based Namibian political analyst Udo Froese, who once served as driver for the Mandela family while attending the Namibia Independence Anniversary in 1990, described the deceased as a strong, sincere, no-nonsense woman, who stood for what she believed to be right.
“She was highly intelligent with a razorblade sharpness. I always felt so proud having had her as a good and enduring friend,” said Froese, who worked as Madikizela-Mandela’s spokesperson for eight years in the 1990s.
Froese says he was driver for Winnie and Nelson Mandela from 20 March 1990 to 22 March 1990, when the couple joined the country for its independence from apartheid South Africa.
“Late former president Nelson Mandela had just been set free from Victor Verster Prison. Again, I felt so proud. Our car took forever to get from point A to point B as Namibians were so excited to see the Mandelas. Namibians touched the car, sang and danced with joy. The ANC delegation experienced Namibia’s warmth and hospitality. Mama Winnie showed how touched she felt by such overwhelming happiness. She was full of compliments,” he said.
Froese said in September 2006 Madikizela-Mandela and her daughter Zindziswa travelled to Windhoek for the funeral of his (Froese’s) mother.
“It was special. [Former] President Dr Sam Nujoma hosted her at his home in Windhoek on the eve of my mother’s funeral. It was indeed special, if not historic. I wish Mama we Sizwe, Cde Winnie Mandela to rest in peace. You have served your nation well,” Froese grieved.