Mlangeni Foundation doesn’t want his legacy drawn into ‘noise’ over Zuma’s part in memorial

The family of anti-apartheid veteran Andrew Mlangeni has seemingly distanced itself from the announcement by the ANC that former president Jacob Zuma will be speaking at a “virtual reflection” on the life and times of the Rivonia Trialist on Friday, saying the involvement of those he was critical of won’t redefine what he stood for.

Speaking at a media briefing on Friday on the arrangements for Mlangeni’s funeral next week, Malose Kekana, a trustee of the June and Andrew Mlangeni Foundation, said the family had little control over particulars of the ceremony

“Our involvement as a family is limited to the memorial and the funeral, all other extra-ordinary activities to honour Ntate Mlangeni are not at the behest of the family, we’ve got no control over that,” Kekana said.

He added, “that is something that the ANC and other comrades have arranged, but it’s not an initiative that is driven by the family”.

The virtual ceremony has been planned by the ANC, in conjunction with family.

However, Kekana added that the ceremony should not overshadow the memory of Mlangeni.

The politician was a “man of honour” and had expressed reservations around state capture, Kekana said.

“Those things are publicly known, but what we would not like to do is take this event of giving Ntate Mlangeni an honourable funeral to be mired in controversy due to current affairs.

“I think as Africans it is a duty for us not use Ntate Mlangeni’s funeral as a point of sowing divisions within the ANC,” he said.

While there may be disapproval around Zuma’s involvement in the ANC event, the family’s role is limited, Kekana added.

“My plea would be that we respect his memory and not try and draw his legacy into a noise that is not constructive, but of course we do know what he stood for”.

The chairperson of the foundation, Deputy Minister in the Presidency for Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities Hlengiwe Mkhize, added that Mlangeni’s integrity should be preserved “as defined by him”.

“We just have to make sure we don’t confuse the involvement of some people who Ntate Mlangeni might have been critical of as a condonation of what Ntate stood for. It’s the nature of this kind of death that you can’t control who comes in, so it becomes bigger than any one person,” Mkhize said.

She emphasised that the decision would not redefine or distract from who Mlangeni was or what he did and what he stood for.

Mkhize explained that Mlangeni was not afraid to be critical of anyone.

“I know he meet anyone of us and if he was critical of what you have done, he would tell you… but also he strongly believed in defending the unity of the organisation [the ANC]”.

She added that Mlangeni was always clear in his stance on corruption, and he used to say “it is the battle he has to fight”.

Cause of death

Kekana said Mlangeni had been suffering with problems in his leg for a while, which had affected his abdomen.

“At the advanced age of 95, he just didn’t have the power or the energy anymore to withstand the pain. He suffered for a while with a lot of pain.

“He died peacefully, and we feel that he had fulfilled his role.I think to hold onto him would be selfish. He had done everything that any man could do”.

President Cyril Ramaphosa has declared a Category One funeral for Mlangeni on Wednesday.

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