Is he the next South African President?

CAPE TOWN – The head of the Methodist church of Southern Africa, Bishop Mvume Dandala, has been nominated as the presidential candidate for the Congress of the People (Cope), SABC news reports.

In its Thursday evening news bulletin, the public broadcaster announced that it had "reliably learnt" that Dandala came out on top of the party’s national list.

But party spokeswoman Palesa Morudu would not be drawn to verify this on Thursday night, saying "a formal announcement will probably be made on Friday".

"We really haven’t made a formal announcement. What we said is that we have agreed on the presidential candidate," she said.

It was initially thought that the race for the top position would be between party president Terror Lekota and his deputy, Mbhazima Shilowa.

But Dandala emerged victorious following Cope’s national committee meeting which discussed the party’s national and provincial nomination lists in Johannesburg on Thursday.

Dandala was recently involved in peace talks in Kenya following that country’s post-election violence. He also played a crucial role in talks in South Africa before the 1994 transition.

Dandala’s appointment may raise suspicions again about Mbeki’s involvement in the new party because Dandala and Mbeki are known to be on friendly terms.

Mbeki held a congratulatory speech at his inauguration as head of the AACC and bestowed on him the Silver Order of the Grand Counsellor of the Boabab, the second highest honour an ordinary citizen can receive.

Dandala, however, wrote a letter with others in 2003 urging Mbeki to make nevirapine available to young HIV-positive pregnant women.

Dandala received numerous awards for peace and humanitarian work and holds two doctorate degrees in theology at universities in the former Transkei and Cameroon and he obtained a masters degree from the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom.

One of Dandala’s former colleagues has reservations about his role as the face of Cope.

"Dandala did very well in the church and is highly respected. But I am not sure to what extent he will be able to operate in an oppositional relationship with the governing party. He is well-respected in the ranks of the ANC and definitely had the ear of the [former] president [Mbeki]. It will be a complicated relationship."

Dandala will however be able to secure the white affluent voters who are undecided, he says.

Dandala also has strong grassroots support in his home province, the Eastern Cape.

Full names- Bishop Hamilton Mvumelwano "Mvume" DANDALA
Synopsis Prior of the Order:- St John SA;
Date of Birth -26/10/1951
Place of Birth -Mount Ayliff, Eastern Cape
Country of Residence- South Africa
Nationality- South African
Father’s Name- Killion Dandala
Mother’s Name -Julia Boyce
Spouse’s Name -Ntombizodwa Ntukwana
Marriage Date -15/12/1973
Children -1 son(s) 1 daughter(s)
School -Ndamase High School, nr. Umtata, 1968
Recreational Activities -writing poetry

Degrees- Master of Arts (Cambridge University)