Winnie Mandela ranks among leading candidates; S. Africa Cabinet post likely despite allegations of human rights violations


JOHANNESBURG, South Africa -- Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, implicated last year in apartheid-era killings, kidnappings and torture, was named yesterday as one of the ruling African National Congress' top 10 candidates for this year's election.

The former wife of President Nelson Mandela was listed ninth among 200 party candidates for the national legislature. Her high ranking provoked speculation here that she could be in line for a Cabinet position in the country's second black majority government.

The new Cabinet will almost certainly be selected by Thabo Mbeki, Mandela's deputy and heir apparent, after the general elections expected in May.

Mbeki headed the candidates' list, which included Communists and trade union leaders, the ANC's partners in the governing alliance. One-third of the candidates were women, reflecting the ANC's commitment to gender integration.

Madikizela-Mandela is president of the ANC's Women's League and has a nearly fanatical following, based on her record as an anti-apartheid activist and a post-apartheid advocate of accelerated social change.

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission, looking into the misdeeds of both sides in the apartheid era, last year found her "politically and morally accountable for the gross human rights violations" committed by a vigilante group she controlled in the black township of Soweto.

The commission found that the group operated from Madikizela-Mandela's house and was involved in killings, torture, assaults and arson. It said she was aware of the crimes and the "disquiet" they caused in the community, but "chose not to address" them.

The commission recommended that the government consider prosecuting those found guilty of human rights violations who had not been granted amnesty. Madikizela-Mandela did not seek amnesty, which the TRC offered in return for full disclosure of politically motivated crimes.

No prosecutions of those indicted by the TRC have been announced. ANC officials said yesterday that the party views Madikizela-Mandela's apartheid-era activities as political, not criminal.

Pub Date: 2/16/99

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