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Last Updated: Friday, 15 October, 2004, 12:03 GMT 13:03 UK
'Great South Africans' show axed
Former South African president Nelson Mandela
Nelson Mandela was nominated the greatest South African by viewers
Public pressure has forced a South African television show off the air in which viewers were asked to vote for the 100 greatest South Africans.

The high rating of apartheid leaders alongside former President Nelson Mandela, already voted the greatest South African, caused an outcry.

Former leader Hendrik Verwoerd, the architect of apartheid, is placed 19th.

"We're going back to the drawing board on this one," said television boss Peter Matlare.

'No comparison'

Golf star Gary Player tops the list to come second to Mr Mandela, with Indian nationalist Mahatma Gandhi, who fought for equal rights in South Africa, coming in second, while current President Thabo Mbeki is ranked seventh.

1: Nelson Mandela
2: Gary Player
Golf player
3: Mahatma Gandhi
Rights activist
4: Dr Christiaan Barnard
Heart surgeon
5: F W de Klerk
Last white president
6: Jan Smuts
Former statesman

"There should have been different categories. You can't compare a politician and an old apartheid general," opposition politician Patricia de Lille - who is 22nd in the poll - told South Africa's Star newspaper.

Great South Africans is broadcast on SABC3 , a channel aimed at affluent English speakers, Reuters news agency reports.

Peter Matlare acknowledged that the national broadcaster needed broader participation in the programme.

"We need to ensure that each and every South Africa knows about the initiative and plays an active role in defining the outcome," he said.

On the positive side, the programme had sparked a national debate about this issue, he said.

"In line with our mandate of creating unity among South Africans, we would like to see a national debate around this issue."

SA TV summoned over 'poll bias'
15 Jan 04 |  Africa
Country profile: South Africa
21 Jul 04 |  Country profiles

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