April 16, 1995 in Nation/World

Mandela Creates Stir At Speech After Firing Day After Leaving Cabinet, She Unexpectedly Attends Ceremony

Associated Press

A day after being fired from her husband’s Cabinet for a second time, Winnie Mandela demonstrated Saturday that she’s not about to leave the limelight.

The scene was the unveiling of a marble tombstone at the grave of Chris Hani, a popular South African Communist Party leader shot April 10, 1993. Hani played a key role in negotiating South Africa’s transition from white-minority rule to democracy.

President Nelson Mandela arrived, smiling, and embraced Hani’s widow and daughters. A priest praised Hani as Mandela sat quietly.

Then Winnie Mandela arrived as she often does - unexpected, late and garishly dressed. She wore a Cleopatra-style wig, bulky jewelry and a gold-embroidered black robe.

Standing a few minutes to one side of the VIP podium, Winnie Mandela ignited a barrage of camera flashes and reporters’ questions. She ignored them.

Then she strode to the podium and took an empty seat behind Adelaide Tambo, widow of former African National Congress leader Oliver Tambo. The two exchanged remarks, but their relations have scarcely been friendly of late: Adelaide Tambo led half the ANC Women’s League directors in resigning to protest Winnie Mandela’s high-handed leadership.

She and her estranged husband didn’t trade words, exchange glances, or acknowledge each other’s presence.

“I’m surprised she came,” said Shirish Jasmath, a longtime Communist who spent 10 years in prison. “She got here late as usual. There’s something wrong with her. It’s got to be hard on Mandela.”

Winnie Mandela looked away or signed autographs during the president’s speech.

© Copyright 1995 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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