OPINION

What ANC said about Winnie, MUFC and Stompie at the time

Organisation says she refused to disband club despite it being infiltrated by enemy agents (21 Feb 1989)

ANC STATEMENT ON WINNIE MANDELA AND THE ''MANDELA FOOTBALL CLUB''

Recently there has been serious developments pertaining to the activities of the group known as the Mandela Football Club, which have raised great concern within the mass democratic movement and the struggling people as a whole. The ANC shares the concern of the people and has all the time tried to intervene to find an amicable solution to the problem.

In the light of reports about its activities in the recent past, our organisation, complementing the initiatives of leading personalities of the mass democratic movement, tried to use its influence to bring about the disbanding of the group.

Unfortunately our counsel was not heeded by Comrade Winnie Mandela. The situation has been further complicated by the fact that she did not belong to any structures and, therefore, did not benefit from the discipline, counselling and collectivity of the mass democratic movement. Under these circumstances, she was left open and vulnerable to committing mistakes, which the enemy exploited.

One such instance relates to the so-called Mandela Football Club. In the course of time, the club engaged in unbecoming activities which have angered the community. We fully understand the anger of the people and their organisations towards this club. We have every reason to believe that the club was infiltrated by the enemy and that most of its activities were guided by the hands of the enemy for the purpose of causing disunity within the community and discrediting the name of Nelson Mandela and the organisation of which he is the leader. Our people should not allow this.

The ANC calls on our people to close ranks and exercise maximum vigilance against the vile machinations of the enemy. Our position is that the problem arising from the activities of the Mandela Football Club can and must be solved within the ambit of the democratic movement as a whole, both at local and national levels. This must be done in the shortest possible time. To realise this, it is necessary that Comrade Winnie Mandela is helped to find her way into the structures and discipline of the mass democratic movement. It will be of paramount importance that she co-operates with all those involved in the resolution of the problem. We are confident that the mass democratic movement will open its doors to her in the interests of our people and the struggle.

There is a need to create a climate in which all problems facing the community, including the unfortunate death of Stompie Moeketsi Seipei, a committed young lion, who has made an immense contribution [unclear] to foster unity rather than let the enemy use them to achieve its ends.

The ANC takes this opportunity to convey its heartfelt condolences to the parents, relatives and community of Stompie Moeketsi Seipei. It is with a feeling of terrible sadness that we consider it necessary to express our reservations about Winnie Mandela's judgement in relation to the Mandela Football Club.

But we should not forget that Comrade Winnie Mandela has gone through have had immense contribution to the liberation struggle. She has not only suffered the anguish of over a quarter of a century of separation from her husband but has also experienced unending persecution at the hands of the regime such as banishment, imprisonment, torture and sustained harassment over a period of more than two decades. Bearing the name of Mandela [unclear], she increasingly became one of the symbols of resistance to racist tyranny both at home and abroad.

We firmly believe, without prejudging all the issues which have been raised in relation to the problem, that whatever mistakes were made should be viewed against the background of her overall contribution of the one hand and the activities of the enemy on the other. Viewed in this light, we consider it important that the movement as a whole adopt a balanced approach to the problems that have arisen. The ANC, for its part, will continue to work for the unity of our people and we have no doubt that all those who have participated in the attempts to solve this problem have done so in the best interests of our struggle.

Statement issued by the ANC over Radio Freedom, 21 February 1989