Former president Thabo Mbeki says he regrets that he and other members of the ANC leadership were not around to stop Winnie Madikizela-Mandela from doing wrong things.

Mbeki was paying tribute to Madikizela-Mandela.

“The period when she got involved with the Mandela Football Club… I’m saying one would regret that because of the distance, the physical distance, because off the conditions at the time, we were not immediately around to ensure that she doesn’t do wrong things,” says Mbeki.

He says Madikizela-Mandela’s legacy suffered from her involvement with the football club.

“For a person like that who had made a very important contribution by showing the need and possibility to stand up, to say no to oppression, it doesn’t matter how many times they get detained, it doesn’t matter what happens, the struggle must continue, to spoil that kind of role by getting involved with things like that was not right.”

Mbeki says the “wrong things” Madikizela-Mandela did were because of her passion for the freedom of black South Africans.

“She was very brave and courageous, activists as opposed to a philosopher or theorist…She was not an observer who would think or theorise…Some of that activity would even be verge on recklessness, for instance this incident where she said something to the effect that, with our matches and necklaces we will liberate the country. That was wrong.”

Mbeki says even though this was wrong, it was an indication of Madikizela-Mandela’s commitment to the freedom of black South Africans.

Asked how the country and the world should celebrate Madikizela-Mandela’s life, Mbeki says people should stop individualising the struggle.

“It’s not as though Winnie worked alone. They were in the struggle, they were a collective…When you talk about people engaged in the struggle ready to sacrifice, sure, she was part of that… I think in celebrating her, we need to talk in those terms.”

Watch the full interview here: