The sleepy town of Brandfort has been buzzing this past week with hundreds of people going to the town to pay homage to arguably one of the fiercest fighters against Apartheid, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela.
On Wednesday, the EFF invited other political parties such as the African National Congress (ANC), the Democratic Alliance (DA) and others to its memorial service in the town.
Famous social and political figures attending were the ANC FS’s William Bulwane, Patricia Kopane of the DA, and media personality, Mapaseka Mokwele, who was also the programme director.
The EFF’s musical line-up was a dynamic one that showcased South Africa’s wealth in Arts and Culture – a ministry Madikizela-Mandela once served as Deputy Minister before she resigned from the office in May 2003. There were performances from renowned artists like Dr Tumi, Simphiwe Dana and Siphokazi, among a few others.
On Monday, the ANC also held its own powerful memorial lecture at the Majwemasweu Community Hall in Brandfort, where ANC chairperson and minister of Mineral Resources, Gwede Mantashe, was the main speaker.
Speaking to a crowd of hundreds, Mantashe addressed the issue of the controversial museum that was meant to be built in Madikizela-Mandela’s honour by the Free State provincial government. Mantashe said that it was important to apologise for the fact that Madikizela-Mandela died before the monument could be erected.
“We dragged our feet on this matter and we owe the people of Brandfort an apology. The fact that it has not been erected is a mistake,”
Mantashe said in his address.
He further stated that the house would be restored as a heritage site and the national department of Arts and Culture must ensure that the house eventually represents the era Madikizela-Mandela lived in.
Earlier on Monday at a press briefing held at the Majwemasweu Library, Bulwane refuted statements that the provincial government failed to erect this structure owing to allegations of corruption. He stated that the project, which was conceptualised in 2007 with R3 million allocated for the museum, close to R205 000 went towards the museum’s plans and designs. The remainder of the money was redirected to towards the Waaihoek Wesleyan Church in Batho. The church had been identified as a national heritage site and the ANC was allegedly under pressure to restore it owing to the centenary celebrations which were held in 2012.
Video Credit: Eyewitness News
Meanwhile, the national Department of Arts and Culture (DAC) issued a statement on Wednesday, confirming Bulwane’s utterances. In the statement, the department states that it became involved with the Winnie Mandela House Museum in 2012 and was in consultative talks with Madikizela-Mandela and her family in the months leading up to her death. It further revealed that it was working with a new contractor, Risimati Consulting Engineers, with whom it signed a Service Level Agreement with on 13 March 2018.
Local government said that work on the museum should begin in April and it expects to complete its work on this project in 2019.
Madikizela Mandela will be laid to rest on Saturday 14 April in Johannesburg.