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Wednesday, December 17, 1997 Published at 14:01 GMT


Winnie pulls out of leadership race
image: [ Winnie Mandela is not seeking high office, for now ]
Winnie Mandela is not seeking high office, for now

Winnie Mandela has abandoned plans to challenge for the deputy presidency of South Africa's ruling African National Congress party.

Jacob Zuma, the ANC's leader in KwaZulu-Natal province was elected unopposed, when Winnie Mandela decided against fighting for the position.

The BBC's Peter Biles reports from the ANC conference. (Dur 2:18)
The controversial former wife of ANC leader, Nelson Mandela, had been expected to use grass roots support to win a nomination for the deputy presidency despite being isolated from the leadership.

The upper echelons of the party had refused to nominate her for the job but she was mobbed by supporters when she arrived at the ANC conference hall in Mafikeng.

She has courted grass roots support with outspoken criticism of the widening gap between rich and poor blacks.

But it is only three weeks since she appeared before the Truth and Reconciliation Committee, where she had to defend herself against allegations of murder and assault.

[ image: Winnie Mandela has won popularity highlighting the gap between rich and poor blacks]
Winnie Mandela has won popularity highlighting the gap between rich and poor blacks
Her outspoken stance, speaking up for poor blacks, further alienated her from the leadership. She argues the ANC is out of touch with its grass roots while senior ANC figures have referred to her as a "charlatan and a liar."

To have been nominated from the conference floor Winnie Mandela needed 25% of the 3,000 delegates to support her if she was to have the chance of challenging for the deputy president's job.


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