South African Elections: Election notebook

NELSON MANDELA, the youthful 75-year-old leader of the ANC, began his transition yesterday from party politician to international statesman. 'Youthful' may seem an odd word to use. The years, including the 27 spent in jail, are carved on Mandela's face; rumours continue to circulate about his health. But there is something unnaturally young about this old man, as if he feels that life is just beginning.

At his last campaign press conference at the Carlton Hotel in Johannesburg, most of the questions came from foreign journalists (there are at least 3,000 here). He was asked a series of questions about the new South Africa's relations with the world: China, South America, Israel, the rest of Africa. He handled them with a Bill Clinton-like grasp of detail when detail was appropriate and an un-Clinton-like brevity when it was not.

Finally, Mandela was asked about South Africa's future relations with Ireland. After reminiscing about the warm reception he received on his two visits to Ireland, he said: 'There are many Irish heroes who have influenced our struggle.' His favourite Irishman, he said, was George Bernard Shaw. 'I love Bernard Shaw.'

Shaw, who lived to be 94, wrote in Back to Methuselah: 'Life is a disease; and the only difference between one man and another is the stage of the disease at which he lives.'

IN THE Inkatha Freedom Party's candidates' list for today's national elections, five of the top eight places are given to whites. Inkatha says that this proves that the party is a genuinely all-race, all-South Africa movement. But the Inkatha leader, Chief Mangosuthu Buthelezi, has spent most of his energy recently arguing for constitutional changes which would give more power to the provinces and show more respect for traditional tribal leaders and values.

Chief Buthelezi heads the Inkatha national list but whites are in positions three, five, six, seven and eight. Traditional Zulu values will be represented in Cape Town by, amongst others, Chief Buthelezi's right-wing political guru, Walter Felgate, and three former members of the apartheid-administering National Party, Koos van der Merwe, Jurie Mentz and Hennie Bekker.

MORE political graffiti:

'Nationalised crime] Make sure it doesn't pay.'

'I've a bad case of the Buthelezi Blues, or is it post- Natal depression?

And: 'Get the Third Force before the Third Force ge. . .'

THE MYSTERY of why the purist, hardline, Pan Africanist Congress - slogan 'One settler, one bullet' - agreed to take part in the election may have been solved. They needed the money, according to an informed source. Outstanding bills included telephone, 100,000 rand ( pounds 20,000), hotels, R100,000 and foreign travel, R100,000. The taxpayer-funded Independent Electoral Commission (IEC), which is subsidising all parties contesting the election, has now come to the rescue. 'IEC? That'll do nicely, sir.'

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