Pretoria – After weeks of pre-birthday celebrations, struggle icon Winne Madikizela-Mandela turns 80 today.
President Jacob Zuma has paid tribute to the former wife of Nelson Mandela, saying she dedicated her life to the struggle for liberation.
In a statement, President Zuma said Madikizela-Mandela sacrificed life’s comforts, flying the flag for freedom and fighting repression, injustice and inequality.
The President said she raised children single-handedly with Tata Mandela in prison, facing bannings, banishments, imprisonment and ongoing harassment by the security police.
“Your resilience and tenacity of spirit in the face of this most brutal onslaught on your person and family, including demonisation by the apartheid regime will always serve as a reminder, especially to the young members of our nation, that the freedom that we enjoy today was not free,” the President said.
He thanked Madikizela-Mandela for remaining unwavering in the quest for a better society, a free, united, non-sexist, non-racial, democratic and prosperous South Africa.
“Thank you for remaining unwavering in standing with the poor and downtrodden at all times. We are grateful for the gift of your life. We wish you a happy, warm and enjoyable birthday today. May you have many more and continue to serve as an inspiration to the whole nation, especially the youth,” President Zuma said.