Mandela tops list of ANC candidates estranged wife Winnie is dropped to No. 31

January 22, 1994|By Michael Hill | Michael Hill,Johannesburg Bureau

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa -- The African National Congress has released the names of many of those it hopes will make up the country's new National Assembly after the April 27 elections.

As expected, Nelson Mandela tops the list, followed by Cyril Ramaphosa, the ANC's chief negotiator, and Thabo Mbeki, the head of its foreign affairs section.

Those three represent a classic triad of the decades-long struggle against apartheid. One of them went to jail (Mr. Mandela served 27 years); one worked inside the country (Mr. Ramaphosa headed the black mine workers union) and one worked in exile (Mr. Mbeki traveled the world from his base in Lusaka, Zambia).

After those three on the list is Joe Slovo, head of the South African Communist Party, a white immensely popular with the country's black population. Another prominent white Communist, Ronnie Kasrils, is No. 8.

Also in the top 10 are Pallo Jordan, one of the ANC's top intellectuals and now the party's official spokesman, and Jay Naidoo, who also came up in the labor union ranks and who is the highest-ranking Asian on the list.

No. 10 is Albertina Sisulu, wife of longtime ANC official Walter Sisulu, the top woman on the list.

Surprising by her absence from the uppermost ranks was Winnie Mandela, Mr. Mandela's estranged wife.

Though known to have tallied the fifth-highest number of votes at last weekend's ANC convention, she was given the 31st position.

Mrs. Mandela has been a controversial figure since her conviction for kidnapping amid widespread charges that she directed a brutal gang that terrorized the black township of Soweto.

Though she has made a recent comeback, getting elected head of the ANC Women's League, the ruling National Party is already making an issue of her presence in top ANC ranks.

Pushing her down the list was clearly an attempt to defuse that criticism. The 66 women on the list also include Adelaide Tambo, widow of ANC leader Oliver Tambo, singer Miriam Makeba and Melanie Verwoerd, the wife of the grandson of one-time Prime Minister Hendrik Verwoerd, the man called the architect of apartheid.

In its response to this list, the National Party focused on the number of avowed Communists whom the ANC plans to place in the National Assembly.

"This list represents a grave danger to South Africa," a party statement said. "The South African Communist Party has succeeded in its aim to get a stranglehold on the ANC's list."

The National Party claimed that 27 of the top 50 names on the list are members of the Communist Party, a figure that cannot be confirmed, since the ANC does not require members to disclose other memberships.

Under the formula in the interim constitution that will govern South Africa for the next five years, the 400-members of the National Assembly will be chosen on the basis of the percentage of votes a party gets.

If a party gets 50 percent of the vote, it gets 200 seats. And those 200 will be filled by taking the top 200 names on that party's list of candidates.

Half the names will come from the national list, while the other half will come from lists drawn up in each of nine new regions.

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