Winnie Madikizela-Mandela could have been the country’s first female president, but she was rejected because of patriarchy within the African National Congress (ANC), Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) leader Julius Malema said on Monday at the stalwart’s family home.

“Winnie was a stone that was rejected by the builder. The president we did not have.

“Winnie was supposed to be a president of South Africa but the men in the ANC were threatened by a woman and the whites were threatened by an African woman. And that is why they did everything to destroy her,” he said.

Malema lambasted the media for what he said was an attempt to “assassinate her character”.

He told EFF supporters who had accompanied him to the Madikizela-Mandela home and had camped outside the gates that those in the pockets of white minority control had joined a white minority to destroy her, even when she wanted to liberate them.

Denying his involvement in the elevation of former president Jacob Zuma, Malema placed the blame on the ANC.

He said it was the ANC of the Thabo Mbeki era that had elected Zuma instead of Madikizela-Mandela for the position of party deputy president, during the 1997 Mafikeng conference.

“She wanted to stand against Zuma in Mafikeng, that is when they destroyed Winnie, that is how Zuma came to be the president.

“Zuma was brought by men who were scared by a woman in Mafikeng. Had they allowed Winnie to stand as deputy president, Zuma would not have been the president. We would have not known an animal called Zuma.”

He encouraged EFF supporters to get along with the supporters of other political parties who would be attending the memorial service and funeral of the struggle veteran.

Malema also said those who sought to disrupt the burial process must be isolated.

“Come and give support, let us do so with tolerance. There will be different political parties here; we must coexist because that is who mama was.

“She was a unifier. When we come here, we come here to display discipline and support and the highest form of tolerance,” said Malema.

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