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Wednesday, December 17, 1997 Published at 07:54 GMT


Winnie bids for power as Nelson bows out
image: [ Winnie Madikezela-Mandela has support among ANC members ]
Winnie Madikezela-Mandela has support among ANC members

Winnie Madikezela-Mandela is battling to become deputy leader of the African National Congress as the party continues its 50th anniversary conference in South Africa.

Six of the ANC's top posts are up for election with the results due to be announced on Thursday.

South Africa's Deputy President, Thabo Mbeki, is expected to be the sole candidate to replace party leader Nelson Mandela.

But Mrs Mandela, the president's former wife and a fierce critic of the current leadership, is likely to bid to become his number two.

So far only one candidate for the deputy position has been nominated, Jacob Zuma.

Although Mr Mandela is standing down as party leader, he will continue as president of the country until elections in 1999.

He has endorsed Mr Mbeki as his successor, describing him as a man of "exceptional quality".

Mrs Mandela, the self-declared "Mother of the Nation", is popular among rank-and-file ANC members.

This support remains strong despite her recent appearance before South Africa's Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

Over the last month a succession of Mrs Madikezela-Mandela's former colleagues have given evidence to the commission, directly implicating her in a series of murders, kidnappings and other human rights abuses during the years of struggle against the apartheid regime.

However, if Mrs Madikezela-Mandela is to stand a chance of running for the deputy leadership she must achieve substantial backing on the floor of the conference.

BBC correspondents say there are plans pending to make that more difficult.

She may win the nomination but her chances of outright victory in the contest are believed to be slim.


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