The Mandela family in Qunu yesterday postponed the newly elected ANC national executive committee’s (NEC)’s visit to Nelson Mandela’s burial site until next month so that Xhosa grave-visiting practices are properly observed.
While Mandela’s grandson, Mandla Mandela, announced that the family had “opened” their doors to the ANC’s top brass in Qunu, 30km from Umtata, the family requested time to make the necessary preparations for the leadership to commemorate Mandela’s life at his grave site.
The visit will coincide with Mandela’s February 11, 1990, release date from Victor Verster prison in Paarl.
“Traditionally there are things that we have to adhere to before we go and take them to the grave.
“Particularly, the first step was to call the Mandela family and inform them that there was a request made by the ANC, which the family has welcomed,” Mandela said.
“And we therefore need to go and inform Madiba in his place of rest that in a meeting that was held, we collectively with the ANC leadership and the family have identified the 11th of February as the day that we will go to his grave.
“As you know, on February 11, 1990, Madiba was released and he came out a free man. Therefore the request made by the family is that if the ANC leadership can allow us to be able to attend to these traditions.”
The visits to various burial sites of ANC “legends” form part of the ANC’s build-up towards its 106th anniversary set for Buffalo City in East London today.
Flanked by ANC deputy secretary-general Jessie Duarte and Small Business Development Minister Lindiwe Zulu, ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule said the visit to Mandela’s grave site next month would underscore the ANC’s pledge towards internal party renewal.
“We have declared this year as the year of renewal and reconnecting with our people, our history, our ancestors – reconnecting to our roots.
“We then decided that it is in order for us to come back and thoroughly prepare so that when we celebrate 100 years of Mandela’s life, we do this across the entire Eastern Cape, as we recognise the Eastern Cape as a province with one of the legends,” Magashule said.
The ANC concluded its special NEC meeting on Wednesday ahead of its birthday celebrations today, having doused speculation of a President Jacob Zuma recall by stating that no such talks would be held at the meeting.