South African Election: Election Notebook

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The Independent Online
IN HOW many countries would 70,000 people turn out to see a politician? Nelson Mandela's victory rally on Saturday did not quite fill the furthest, most nose-bleeding corners of the FNB soccer stadium on the edge of Soweto. Some ANC officials were disappointed with the turnout. But the occasion was startling enough: an entire stadium full of young, ecstatic African faces.

On the eastern side, about 120 rows back, there was a solitary white spectator in stylish sunglasses, looking as though he was waiting for a rock concert to begin. As a Nigerian journalist pointed out, to witness the concentration of so many politicised youthful, black people was to grasp physically - not just intellectually - why apartheid caved in so abruptly.

The neo-Nazi leader Eugene Terreblanche - ET to his fans - held a rally at Brits, north of Pretoria, on the same day to declare war (again) on the new South Africa. About 200 people came along.

MANDELA, frail in a smart, rust-red shirt, has extraordinary presence. But he is no orator. ('We are upfront in nation building.') He was out-demagogued by his interpreter, who translated chunks of Mandela's off-the-cuff English into Zulu and the ANC leader's mild tones into something more rabble-rousing.

When Mandela rose to speak, the more excitable members of the crowd loosed off their revolvers and AK47s. At least three people were injured when the bullets returned to earth. Mandela furiously denounced the shooters ('criminal elements') and his security guards, who had been instructed to allow no guns into the stadium. He threatened to expel from the ANC anyone who had 'come here today, shooting indiscriminately, frightening a lot of people and causing anxiety on the part of the minority community.'

THE collapse of Bophutatswana, the erstwhile so-called homeland, may cause a glut on the second-hand car market. Pretoria has taken possession of most of the 29 cars that belonged to the ousted, puppet president, Lucas Mangope. They include seven bakkies (pick-up trucks), used to carry milk and chickens on the presidential farms, a Nissan, a Mazda 626, a Toyota Cressida, a Buick and a wide selection of BMWs. Mr Mangope, still unpopular with his former subjects, has been allowed to hold on to his two bullet-proofed cars, a Mercedes 420SE1 and a BMW 750i. The new South African government must decide what to do with Mangope's modest collection of foreign properties: an pounds 800,000 house in Holland Park, London; a pounds 500,000 country home in Buckinghamshire; a residence in Paris which used to belong to Prince Rainier; a villa in the south of France; and - mysteriously - an office in Kiev.

The intriguing question arises: was Mr Mangope exporting his chickens to Kiev?

THE Inkatha Freedom Party, with only days left to campaign, took out five full-page ads in yesterday's Johannesburg Sunday Times. One was a mock ballot paper, showing its supporters where to put their X. Mysteriously, the African National Congress was nowhere to be found on the ballot paper. To find the ANC, you have to turn to their own similar advertisement on a different page. Believe it or not, the ANC ballot paper clean forgets to mention Inkatha.

NELSON and Winnie are estranged, so who will be First Lady? No one, Mr Mandela says. 'If you give me the opportunity by matching me with an attractive lady, I might consider that. But a man of 75 has very little ambition in that direction.'