Economic Freedom Fighters leader Julius Malema on Wednesday called for the respect of all women, both in politics and at home.
He was speaking at a memorial service held at the Majwemasweu Stadium in Deeplevel Brandfort, directly opposite the house which Winnie Madikizela-Mandela and her children occupied when she was banished by the apartheid police in 1977.
“[Women] are capable of doing what men can do. They can operate an AK47. Winnie Mandela is such an example that women can carry an AK47.”
He said Madikizela-Mandela, who died on April 2 after a long illness, was proof that women could do better than men.
“The first female president must come from the EFF to demonstrate that we are not scared of women. We see them as equals. We do not see them as the ANC, as a tool to be used in the bedroom.”
Malema told his members to see women leaders as soldiers who were equal to their male counterparts.
‘Shine of an African rural woman’
He accused African National Congress leaders of ordering that Madikizela-Mandela should never be celebrated and added that the party “could not embrace the shine of an African rural woman”.
“He (OR Tambo) might have not used a tyre and a box of matches, [but] he used an automatic rifle shooting at those who were regarded as sell-outs and impimpis.
“But when an African woman says: ‘Let’s do that which they are doing in exile,’ it is wrong.
“Why is nobody reminding us of what Joe Modise did, [or] Chris Hani, [or] OR Tambo, but we are reminded of what a woman has done because a woman has done that which should have been done by men.”
Malema added that if a man was alleged to have killed Stompie Sepei: “That man would man would have been celebrated and given all kinds of positions.”
Malema said Madikizela-Mandela wanted to become the deputy president in 1997, but her male counterparts went to the apartheid police commissioner and requested that she be investigated for murder.
“All because she must be found guilty of murder so that she does not qualify [to be] deputy president. People say here that you were given [former president [Jacob] Zuma by Malema. Zuma became deputy president of the ANC in 1997 in Mafikeng when Winnie Mandela was prevented from contesting.”
If Madikizela-Mandela was allowed to contest in 1997: “We would have not have had Zuma today. They gave us Zuma in 1997.”
He pointed out that negative criticism of Madikizela-Mandela emerged since her death and added: “We want to say to the leadership of the EFF, you must never be like this leadership of patriarchal men of the ANC and treat women of the EFF the way the ANC treated an African woman.”
Comparing Madikizela-Mandela to a tree that had fallen he said: “We gather today with our hearts filled with painful sorrow in this dark hour of our people’s loss.
“A gigantic tree of the people under whose comforting shades many generations sat and were embraced by its millions of branches during moments of despondency, directionless, tragedy and distress.
“It was the tree that grows out of the grass of so much pain and sorrow. The pain of human suffering perpetrated by those that wage the gardens of hatred, unethical oppression and mass murder.”
He said that despite heavy winds meant to imprison, torture and break down the tree, it still blossomed into flowers of love and tenacity.
“It was the tree which was home to many freedom birds because they were residents of its million branches.
“Today, this tree has fallen.”