Mandela's Ex Poised for Return to Power

Critics none too pleased by new role for ex-convict Winnie
By Matt Cantor,  Newser User
Posted Mar 1, 2009 9:34 AM CST
In this August 8, 1986 photo, Winnie Mandela, left, then wife of then-imprisoned African National Congress leader Nelson Mandela, speaks with then Progressive Federal Party member Helen Suzman.   (AP Photo/File)
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(Newser) – Placed high on her party’s list of future MPs, Nelson Mandela’s ex-wife Winnie Madikizela-Mandela is set to return to a central role in South Africa’s government, the Guardian reports. Such a position is already sparking controversy surrounding Madikizela-Mandela's past—including a 2003 fraud conviction when she was deputy arts minister, and a 1991 kidnapping conviction and accessory role in a 14-year-old’s death.

Some argue, meanwhile, that a constitutional rule on convicts bars Madikizela-Mandela from taking elected office after April’s vote. But “Winnie has an iconic status in the townships," said an expert. "She will help the ANC gain votes from the poor—those who are fed up with the lack of service delivery and who might otherwise stop supporting the ANC."