Zimbabwe’s acting president Constantino Chiwenga yesterday sent his condolences to South Africa President Cyril Ramaphosa on the death of stalwart Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, who died on Monday after a long illness.
Madikizela-Mandela died peacefully surrounded by her family following a long illness that kept her in and out of hospital since the start of the year, family spokesperson Victor Dlamini said in a statement.
“It was with deep shock and profound sorrow, that I received the sad news of the passing on of liberation struggle icon and veteran stalwart of the African National Congress (ANC), Nomzamo Winifred Madikizela-Mandela,” Chiwenga said in a statement.
“On behalf of the government and people of Zimbabwe, Zanu PF party and on my own behalf, I wish to express our deepest condolences to Your Excellency and through you to the government and people of the Republic of South Africa, the ANC as well as the Madikizela and Mandela families on the loss of this legendary heroine.”
Chiwenga, who is acting president in the absence of President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who is on his first State visit to China since he seized power last year, saluted her for her tireless and unwavering commitment to the freedom of her people and their liberation from racism and bondage and said there can be no doubt that she shortened the road to liberation in SA.
“The late Madikizela-Mandela will forever be remembered for her bravery and the numerous sacrifices she made in the epic struggle against the apartheid system, a struggle for which she suffered personal humiliation, house arrests, banishment, solitary confinement and prolonged disruption of family life.
“In spite of all these brutal attempts by the apartheid regime to break her resistance, she remained strong and resolute. She became the leader and personification of the internal opposition to apartheid,” Chiwenga said.
“In … Madikizela-Mandela, we in Zimbabwe had a friend and comrade in arms we could rely upon. We are consoled by the fact that she lived to witness the realisation of her dream of a free, democratic and non-racial South Africa.
“We are confident that South Africans, the ANC and her family find solace in the rich legacy that she has generously bequeathed to all of them as well as to those still fighting for liberation against the forces of oppression,” Chiwenga said.
Madikizela-Mandela will be given a State funeral at a stadium in Soweto on April 14, Ramaphosa’s office said in a statement declaring national days of mourning between April 3 and 14.