Winnie Madikizela-Mandela (born Astrid Winfreda Madikizelza; 26 September 1936) is a South African politician who has held several government positions and headed the African National Congress Women's League. She is currently a member of the ANC's National Executive Committee. Although still married to Nelson Mandela at the time of his becoming president of South Africa in May 1994, she was never the first lady of South Africa, as the couple had separated two years earlier after it was revealed that Winnie had been unfaithful during Nelson's incarceration. Their divorce was finalized on 19 March 1996, with an unspecified out-of-court settlement. Winnie Mandela's attempt to obtain a settlement up to US$5 million, half of what she claimed her ex-husband was worth, was dismissed when she failed to appear at court for a financial settlement hearing.
A controversial activist, she is popular among her supporters, who refer to her as the 'Mother of the Nation', yet reviled by others, mostly due to her alleged involvement in several human rights abuses, including the 1989 kidnap of 14-year old ANC activist Stompie Moeketsi, who was later murdered.
In March 2009, the Independent Electoral Commission ruled that Winnie Mandela, who was selected as an ANC candidate, could run in the April 2009 general election, despite having a fraud conviction.