Winnie Mandela inquiry: ANC investigates fraud allegations against former welfare chief

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The Independent Online
WINNIE Mandela is in trouble again. The Cape Times newspaper has obtained an African National Congress document that alleges Mrs Mandela filched hundreds of thousands of rands from the liberation movement's coffers between February 1991 and March 1992.

ANC officials admitted yesterday that the document, based on the findings of an internal commission of inquiry, was authentic. They said the ANC was investigating fraud charges against Mrs Mandela.

Clearly the ANC had sought to suppress the document. Its findings were based on the work of an internal commission which sat more than a year ago.

The revelations come at a damaging time for the ANC, with South Africa's first democratic elections less than three weeks away, but they do not come entirely as a surprise.

Mrs Mandela was fired as head of the ANC's department of social welfare in March 1992 after allegations that she and the deputy head of the department, her young lover Dali Mpofu, had misappropriated in the region of 400,000 rands ( pounds 80,000).

During the next month her world collapsed. She was stripped of all her official ANC titles, including president of the Women's League. And then Nelson Mandela announced their separation.

But at the end of last year she was re-elected head of the Women's League and then in January she was placed 31st in the ANC's electoral list. Under the new system of proportional representation that will come into effect in the coming election, she was guaranteed a seat in parliament. What the Cape Times report indicates is that when the ANC drew up their original list of electoral candidates in December last year they chose to turn a blind eye to her misdemeanours.

The document obtained by the Cape Times alleged that, among other things, Mrs Mandela and Mr Mpofu had failed to declare or deposit donations received during a trip together to the United States in 1991; that she deposited a donation of R474,000 into her personal account and subsequently transferred only R434,000 to the ANC; that she had pocketed the interest on ANC funds she had placed into her own account; that she paid R350,000 for a farm for returning ANC exiles which was worth only R160,000, with the implication that the outstanding R190,000 went into her own pocket.

The document said Mrs Mandela had refused to testify before the commission, but acknowledged she owed the ANC R74,000. Mrs Mandela has not returned any of the money to the ANC yet.

The allegations against Mrs Mandela are a godsend for President F W de Klerk's National Party. They will be asking why the ANC sought to suppress the findings of their investigation. The scandal is not of such magnitude that it is going to cost the ANC the election. But it will have an effect on the floating voter population.

Nowhere is this bigger or more important than in Cape Town, where the ANC document was evidently leaked. The Western Cape, of which Cape Town is the capital, is the one province in South Africa where the polls indicate that the ANC may not win a majority. It would be a surprise now if the National Party did not clinch control of the provincial parliament.

(Photograph omitted)