William Nicol drive officially renamed Winnie Mandela Drive
The event coincided with what would have been Winnie Madikizela-Mandela's 87th birthday
The symbolism of overturning apartheid-era structures was commemorated on Tuesday with the renaming of Johannesburg’s William Nicol Drive to Winnie Mandela Drive.
It was the culmination of an initiative the city council embarked on in 2018 after her death to pay tribute to the liberation stalwart.
Attendees included First Lady Tshepo Motsepe, transport minister Sindisiwe Chikunga, minister for women, youth and people with disabilities Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma and politicians from different parties.
The event coincided with what would have been Winnie Madikizela-Mandela's 87th birthday. It also came at a time of loss for the Mandela family with the country waking to the announcement that her granddaughter, author Zoleka Mandela, died on Monday night after a long battle with cancer.
Mayor Kabelo Gwamanda said the event was a moment of understanding the history of SA and that freedom was not handed over on a silver platter.
“It is a significant moment in our history that champions and pilots our transformation, and corrective measures that are going to demolish the symbolic structures of oppression and apartheid that we still inherit today,” he said.
“For me as executive mayor, it is a proud moment. It is a moment that has brought a multitude of political parties at one event to celebrate and take ownership and look to championing a future as a collective.”
Madikizela-Mandela died in April 2018 and the decision to rename William Nicol Drive in her honour was reached in October that year by the Johannesburg council and welcomed by late former mayor Geoffrey Makhubo.
Meanwhile the EFF believes it deserves credit for the renaming, with the party’s deputy leader, Floyd Shivambu, going as far as accusing the ANC of celebrating the EFF’s “achievements and courageous victories”.
Amid criticism that the government funding should be better spent, Gauteng premier Panyaza Lesufi said monuments named after heroes should reflect the legacy of that person.
Lesufi called for respect to be shown towards struggle heroes and the infrastructure named in their honour.
“Mama, you might not be with us but today our children and our children’s children will know you are with us,” he said.
“As we name this street, let’s do so by learning from our past renaming experiences. If we rename a hospital after Chris Hani, its services must truly represent Chris Hani. If we rename an airport after Oliver Tambo, nothing must be faulty about that airport as Oliver Tambo was never faulty to us.
“This road must be under our care and must be the way we want other roads to be. This street is not just about Mama Winnie Nomzamo Madikizela-Mandela, this street is about all of us. She is a symbol of who we are and where we come from.”
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