South Africa's Mandela votes early in local polls

AP News
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Posted: May 16, 2011 2:24 PM
South Africa's Mandela votes early in local polls

Former President Nelson Mandela cast an early ballot in local elections and is looking "healthy and handsome," South Africa's top election official said Monday.

Independent Elections Commission Chairman Brigalia Bam said the 92-year-old statesman and Nobel Peace Prize laureate voted at his Johannesburg home. Mandela has retired from public life and has not been seen in public since he was briefly hospitalized in January with a respiratory infection.

South African election rules allow for those who are unable to travel to voting stations because of ill health to vote at their homes. The general voting will take place Wednesday across South Africa for seats on municipal councils.

A video later surfaced on YouTube showing Bam and other officials, including one holding a ballot box, with Mandela. Mandela sits stiffly at a desk as several people shake his hand.

The video's appearance on YouTube was unusual, raising questions about whether Mandela knew he was being filmed.

Kate Bapela, a spokeswoman for the elections commission, said she did not know who made the video. Sello Hatang, a spokesman for Mandela's office, referred questions about the video to the government's information service, whose leader, Jimmy Manyi, did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Mandela became South Africa's first black president in 1994 after serving 27 years in prison for his fight against racist rule.