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Will Mandela effect help ANC?

April 20, 2009

Nelson Mandela, a global symbol of reconciliation after the end of apartheid in 1994, appeared at the ruling ANC’s last election rally before Wednesday’s vote, delivering a last minute campaign boost for party leader Jacob Zuma.

Wearing a Zuma t-shirt, he sat beside the ANC leader, who has been fighting corruption allegations for eight years. The case was just dropped on a technicality and some South Africans still question his innocence.

It’s the second time Mandela has appeared at an ANC rally in the run up to the election, seen as the ANC’s toughest test since it came to power – it is still set to win by a big margin, but perhaps by not as big a margin as before.

After the first campaign appearance, some of the ANC’s foes suggested Mandela had been unfairly exploited and even that his health had been put at risk. But he certainly looked happy enough on Sunday – if as frail as might be expected for a 90 year-old.

Was Mandela’s appearance a desperate last attempt by the ANC to gather votes and divert attention from enduring troubles such as poverty, crime and AIDS?

Or was it just a sign of the faith that Mandela still has in Africa’s oldest liberation movement?

Fifteen years after the end of apartheid, is South Africa still seen a model of democracy on a continent where freedom is lacking? Or is it headed in the wrong direction?


A strong ruling party is a good thing but even more important is a strong opposition – which is a government in waiting!

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