Monday, April 20, 2009

Whatever happened to Winnie Mandela?

Mrs Winnie Nomzamo MADIKIZELA-MANDELA, dubbed by the British Broadcasting Corporation as 'Africa's Evita' was wife to former South African president Nelson Mandela.

Born September 26th 1936 in Bizana South Africa, Winnie married Nelson in 1958 despite her father's objections. When Nelson who was head of the ANC was arrested, she actively continued the fight against apatheid and for the release if her husband. The former First Lady was popular among her supporters who fondly referred to her as 'Mother of the Nation'

After Mr Mandela's release in 1990, relations between the couple gradually cooled and they divorced in 1996 on the grounds of her adultery. She appeared before the Truth and Reconciliation Committee in 1997, where she had to defend herself against allegations of murder and assault of 14-year-old activist, Stompei Seipei Moketsi, who was kidnapped by her guards and later found murdered. Initially, she was convicted and given six years in jail, but she appealed and was given a suspended sentence and given a fine.

In May / June 2008, Winnie criticized the anti-immigrant violence that began in Johannesburg and spread throughout the country, and blamed the government's lack of suitable housing provisions for the sentiments behind the riots. She also apologized to the victims of the riots and visited the Alexandra township.

She also offered her home as a shelter for an immigrant family from the Democratic Republic of the Congo. She warned that the perpetrators of the violence could strike at the Gauteng train system

In March 2009, the Independent Electoral Commission ruled that Winnie Mandela, who was selected as an ANC candidate, can run in the South African general election, 2009, despite having a fraud conviction. She secured fifth place on the ANC's electoral list for the South African general election, 2009, behind party president Jacob Zuma, current President of South Africa Kgalema Motlanthe, Deputy President of South Africa Baleka Mbete and finance minister Trevor Manuel. An article in The Observer' suggested than her position near the top of the list indicated that the party's leadership saw her as a valuable asset in the election with regard to solidifying support among the party's grassroots and the poor

The elections take place on April 22nd 2009.

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