Winnie Madikizela-Mandela  is a South African activist and politician who has held several government positions and headed the African National Congress Women’s League. She is a member of the ANC’s National Executive Committee. She was born Nomzamo Winifred Zanyiwe Madikizela on 26 September 1936.

She was married to Nelson Mandela for 38 years, including 27 years during which he was imprisoned. Although they were still married at the time of his becoming president of South Africa in May 1994, the couple had separated two years earlier. Their divorce was finalised on 19 March 1996. Winnie Mandela continued to be a presence in Mandela’s life in later years despite his remarriage in 1998.

Winnie has called for the African National Congress (ANC) to undergo serious introspection championed by “fresh leadership combined with the elders”, in a bid to figure out where it has gone wrong.

“The kind of introspection we need, will need a whole layer of fresh leadership combined with the elders who are still left in the organisation to revisit the whole question of the Freedom Charter, what has happened since 1994, and to go through all of the various stages of the presidents and find out where did we go so wrong,” Madikizela-Mandela told journalists at her old home in Vilakazi Street in Soweto.

Making a rare public appearance following her 80th birthday celebrations last week, Madikizela-Mandela spoke very briefly on the current state of the African National Congress.

“I am not the one to pronounce on the leadership in this country. I am one of them, you are asking me to self-critique. I am in the national executive committee of the ANC and look at the country today. I am the ANC, what is left of the ANC. We cannot pretend that we do not have problems, we cannot pretend things are not wrong in our country,” she said in response to a question on the current leadership of the ANC and how it had handled recent issues.


Bemoaning corruption, Winnie said that it was a great concern for her and others and that only the ruling party could find a way to quell it.

“And you need to get the governing party to perhaps go into retreat for a month and find answers about all the wrongs that we have done. We cannot pretend there is nothing wrong, there is a lot wrong and we are all worried.”