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Contributor: Anonymous

In South Africa, elected officials have recently publicly declared their assets and the gifts which they received over the past year. The publication of the latest list has occasioned much comment, particularly about one gift received by Winnie Madikizela-Mandela. Last year, Madikizela-Mandela received US$40,000 from American boxer and convicted rapist Mike Tyson. The gift has received widespread publicity because it is the most valuable single gift given to a South African politician. Mrs Madikizela-Mandela, who is president of the ANC Women?s League, has taken a strong and very vocal stand on the issue of rape, which is the one crime still on the increase in South Africa. Many South Africans are now asking why she would accept any gift, and particularly such a large one, from a convicted rapist.
Not unexpectedly, Winnie?s former husband, President Mandela, did not have sufficient room on the standard form to list all his gifts. He submitted a separate list. But he did report ownership of three homes - two in Johannesburg and one in the rural village of Qunu, in the eastern Cape province.
Deputy President Thabo Mbeki also received numerous gifts which he listed meticulously, from a sculpted silver and gold ball to some Korean tea. Mr. Mbeki, widely known to derive great pleasure in smoking a pipe, received a pipe in a leather pouch from a Saudi Arabian official. Politicians were only required to list gifts valued in excess of US$70, but many listed all gifts - such as one tray of canned goods, reported by Environment and Tourism Minister Pallo Jordan. Communications Minister Jay Naidoo also listed every gift he received, including a card holder valued at US$6.
Some gifts caused much amusement. Water Affairs minister Kader Asmal received a wooden carved lizard, and Labour Minister Tito Mboweni, a cartoon of himself from the Pretoria press club. Other revelations were the impressive share portfolio owned by Ben and Mary Turok of the Communist Party. Catholic Priest Smangaliso Mkatshwa owned a few shares and catholic nun, Bernard Ncube, owned a home.
The practice of declaring assets and revealing gifts was adopted by the new South African government in 1994, and this is the second time the list has been published since then. It is published periodically with the aim of ensuring that elected officials do not accept gifts, buy shares, or acquire property that will cause a conflict of interest in the execution of their public duties.
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