People packed a stadium in Johannesburg's Soweto township to hear the ANC president, Thabo Mbeki, kick off the campaign with a promise to accelerate change. Halfway into his speech he was drowned out by cheers for Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, who walked slowly across the pitch separating Mr Mbeki from the crowd. "Viva the president of the African National Congress Women's League," Mr Mbeki said.
Mr Mandela divorced his wife in 1996, citing infidelities, and married Graca Machel on his 80th birthday last July. But Ms Madikizela-Mandela has remained powerful in the ANC. She was the highest-placed candidate on the ANC's election list who was not already a cabinet member. The placings constitute a pre-election popularity contest that Mr Mbeki will find difficult to ignore when he allocates cabinet seats.
Mr Mandela, who retires after the election, did not greet his former wife. He praised Mr Mbeki, his deputy since the 1994 election that swept away apartheid: "Follow the leadership of our president, Thabo Mbeki As I retire to my country village, I know the [ANC] organisation is in good hands."
Mr Mbeki, 56, presented the election manifesto unveiled at a supper with party leaders, diplomats and businessmen on Saturday.
It pledges faster delivery of jobs, housing, water, electricity and social services and includes promises of tighter gun control and measures to promote investment. (Reuters)Reuse content