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Bemused and disconcerted, the female activist has finally broken her silence on the deep rot in the country’s heart. Former anti-apartheid activist Winnie Madikizela-Mandela says she doesn’t recognise the African National Congress (ANC) anymore.

In an exclusive interview with HuffPost SA, Madikizela-Mandela said that corruption in the ruling party is not part of the ANC she fought for during the the anti-apartheid struggle.

“The ANC of our forebears has disappeared,” she said. “Every day you open a newspaper, there are stories about this corruption, capture of the state, the ANC is also captured … This is the news we read today about my ANC.”

Madikizela-Mandela (80) says the ANC has “serious problems”.

“Not even a fool can pretend that we don’t have problems,” she said. “We have very, very serious problems. The ANC is haemorrhaging. We are in trouble.”

Madikizela-Mandela said she took the current corruption allegations against the party personally. “Hopefully, after bleeding and haemorrhaging as it does, somewhere we are going to find an antidote,” she said. “We’ll bring it back to its former glory.”

Madikizela-Mandela said she told the party’s leadership at the Codesa negotiating table in the 1990s that things were going awry, adding that these problems were to be expected. “There are human beings who are doing [this] to the ANC,” she said. “This is what happens to revolutionary movements … and I warned about that 23 years ago.”

Perhaps emboldened in a new documentary on her life that is more sympathetic to her character than previous stories about her choices, Madikizela-Mandela said she imagined an ANC and South Africa that was led by Chris Hani. Hani, who had a more social political ideological leaning than other leaders of the ANC, was assassinated in 1993.

“Tragically, I think we will be lucky if we ever get to the bottom of it. Chris Hani was not assassinated by the right wing. There were more sinister forces than Janusz [Waluś],” she told HuffPost SA.

As part of a radical block within the ruling party, she was forced to work as a soldier on the ground in Soweto during her ex-husband Nelson Mandela’s incarceration. Because of her unparalleled popularity with the public, she was banished from her marital home and pushed to the sidelines by the apartheid government.

But Madikizela-Mandela ended off with a message of hope to South Africans.

“We are aware of the grave challenges today,” she said.

“I wish [to give South Africans] a message of encouragement, and tell them that not all is lost in the African National Congress. We are hoping, us remnants left of the original African National Congress, that we will be able to restore it to its dignity, to its former glory.”