South Africa –Trade unionists in Africa have urged African leaders to immortalize the memory of the late Winnie Madikizela Mandela, an anti-apartheid freedom fighter and former wife of Nelson Mandela who was laid to rest at a massively attended funeral at the week end in her township of Soweto. Winnie Madikizela Mandela died at Easter at the age of 81 in South Africa.
Addressing the eighth African Regional Executive Committee, in Dakar, Senegal last Thursday, the Vice President (Africa) of the Geneva-based Industriall global union, Comrade Issa Aremu said sustaining the legacies of Winnie Madikizela Mandela amounts to “throwing apartheid permanently into the dust-bin of history”, failing which he said “Africa risks resurrection of the evil of apartheid which Winnie courageously confronted at immeasurable costs”. Comrade Aremu who addressed the 8th Regional Executive Council meeting of the global union in Senegal described the iconic heroine of South African liberation as “the mother of the modern democratic South African Nation and the Continent, Africa!”
The Nigerian Labour leader who is also NEC member of NLC recalled that together with her late husband, Nelson Mandela Winnie epitomized remarkable sacrifices for the freedom of all of us against the tyranny of apartheid. “Lest we forget, not long ago racist South Africa shamelessly separated the beautiful peoples of that great country on account of their God-given colors. Apartheid South Africa even callously separated young handsome husband – Mandela from his beautiful wife; Winnie for 27 years! Winnie courageously joined the millions who fought and defeated apartheid.”
The labour leader urged trade unionists especially female unionists in Africa to learn from the leadership example of Mama Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, adding that as a stateswoman, “She was labour friendly, a working class stalwart who favored minimum wage and decent work for the workers.” “She combined rare multiple roles of a woman: a mother, grand mother, freedom fighter, party organizer and a parliamentarian among others. She was a good woman who exhibited unconditional love for others”.
According to the labour leader, Winnie Mandela’s quotable quotes, include: “women should rise up to the challenge of their marginalization in male-dominated society”, “women are their own liberators” and “Nothing about us without us”.
Comrade Aremu hailed what he called consolidation of democratic process in Africa citing the new development in Zimbabwe and successful swearing-in of President, Cyril Ramaphosa as the 5th President of the Republic of South Africa following the resignation of former President Jacob Zuma. He hailed Senegal as “a symbol of Democracy in Africa” adding that while “many countries in the West Africa sub-region had witnessed anti-democratic military coups, Senegal has always been governed by constitutionalism”
On the recently signed continental controversial African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) signed by Forty-four (44) African countries recently, comrade Aremu urged all African leaders to “show the proof that AfCFTA is not another top-down deal signed behind the legitimate aspirations of African peoples for a common wealth, not just common market”. He therefore asked for mass consultation with all the relevant stakeholders including trade unionists on the new trade pact. AfCFTA’s main objective is promotion of continental trade liberalization leading to a Continental Customs Union (CSU) by 2022 and the creation of an African Economic Community by 2028!
The labour leader condemned the recent sentencing of the Former Brazilian president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva for 12 years on account of what he called “trumped up corruption charges just to prevent him from standing for the October presidential elections”. According to him “the development in Brazil shows that democracy is not guaranteed worldwide unless democratic forces are vigilant to defend it.”