South Africa\’s elections have seen the scrappiest, personality-driven election campaign in 15 years of democracy.
With Jacob Zuma a presidential shoo-in, the ruling African National Congress (ANC) is offering voters a familiar surname worth ballot gold – anti-apartheid icon Nelson Mandela\’s grandson and former wife are both on the party\’s candidate list.
Under South Africa\’s voting system, a high rank on the party lists indicates greater likelihood of a choice spot in cabinet or parliament.
Here\’s a brief overview of some of the leaders:
Chief Mandla Mandela
Nelson Mandela\’s grandson, the first Mandela to become a traditional leader in some 70 years, is on the party\’s list to become a member of parliament.
The young Mandela holds a degree in political science and has twice campaigned publicly for Zuma at his grandfather\’s side, giving the party a welcome moral boost.
Nelson Mandela\’s hugely popular former wife, known as the “Mother of the Nation”, is number five on the ANC\’s national list despite a fraud conviction.
Banished, jailed and tortured by the apartheid state, the fiery anti-apartheid heroine\’s reputation was clouded by a guilty verdict in 1991 for the kidnapping of a young activist who was later found murdered. A prison sentence was reduced to a fine on appeal.
She remains one of the country\’s most popular figures despite not being involved in formal politics since 2003.
One of the country\’s longest-serving ministers, Manuel\’s steering of the finance portfolio has earned him international kudos and he is seen by investors as vital to a stable economy.
Speculation of the finance chief\’s resignation in the wake of former president Thabo Mbeki\’s axing sent shockwaves through the markets.
Manuel is number four on the ANC national list after Zuma, current President Kgalema Motlanthe and Deputy President Baleka Mbete.
An Mbeki loyalist, the former health minister\’s leadership of the country\’s AIDS crisis saw HIV infections balloon to the world\’s highest. She is 24 on the ANC party list.
Tshabalala-Msimang was dubbed “Dr Beetroot” for proposing lemon juice, olive oil, garlic and beetroot over anti-retrovirals as treatments. Lack of the critical drugs has been blamed for more than 300,000 premature deaths.
Leader of the official opposition and mayor of Cape Town, Zille has campaigned relentlessly to win black voters and ditch the party\’s dogged image as being elitist and white.
Zille is the Democratic Alliance\’s candidate for premiership of the Western Cape which the party is expected to win.
A former political journalist, Zille exposed the details of the police-custody death of Black Consciousness leader Steve Biko.
A surprise presidential candidate for the Congress of the People (COPE) whose breakaway was hailed as the ANC\’s biggest election challenge, the little-known Dandala is a former bishop of Methodist Church in Southern Africa.
Dandala, who married Nelson Mandela and Graca Machel in 1998, has impressive anti-apartheid and peace resolution credentials and is seen as trustworthy.
But questions remain if he has the political aggression to woo voters from Zuma\’s charisma and the ANC\’s unchallenged dominance in post-apartheid South Africa.