By Fienie Grobler

A reality TV star, a popular chicken restaurant chain and a die-hard apartheid supporter are providing South Africa with some entertaining moments in the run-up to next week's landmark elections.

These are some of the quirky players in South Africa's third elections since the end of apartheid which have also yielded a flurry of small but colourful parties doggedly campaigning against established heavyweights.

Most of them are long on election antics but short on substance.

Brad Wood, a boisterous former security consultant better known as "Bad Brad", the star of South Africa's version of the reality TV show Big Brother has set up his own crime-busting party, The Organisation Party (TOP).

Wood has launched a "shock" campaign with posters screaming: "Rapists, child molesters, murderers and violent criminals: This time we are fcuking you."

Meanwhile, the Nandos party, which stands for the New African National Democratic Organisation for Solidarity and is backed by chicken restaurant franchise Nandos, has promised to "ruffle some feathers".

"People are hungry for a party that will serve the people and grill the politicians, hungry for a party that is neither left 'wing' nor right 'wing', but rather for the whole chicken," Nandos co-founder Nicholas Hulley says.

Nandos has registered with election authorities but will not pay the required R150 000 fee to feature on the ballot.

"We just want to encourage people to have a bit of fun with this election and we are giving other parties a fighting chance," Hulley said.

While for some, campaigning may be a not-so-subtle attempt to grab headlines, for Willie Marais, the leader of the Afrikaner rightwing Herstigte Nasionale Party (HNP) or Reformed National Party and its estimated 10 000 paid-up members, it's no monkey business.

Marais was a member of parliament alongside former prime minister Hendrik Verwoerd, the architect of apartheid, which ended a decade ago.

For the third time, the HNP is calling for a boycott of the elections with posters that read: "Kies reg, bly weg", which is Afrikaans for "Make the right choice, don't vote".

"We have launched this campaign in every election since FW de Klerk gave this country away on a silver platter," says General Secretary Louis van der Schyff.

De Klerk, South Africa's last white president, scrapped apartheid laws and announced Nelson Mandela's release from jail in 1990.

The election commission said no fewer than 114 parties registered to run candidates, of which 37 paid the required fees to stand in the elections on either the provincial or national level.

Some one-issue parties are also in the running, such as the Abolition of Income Tax and Usury Party, the Pro-Death Penalty Party and the Peace and Justice Congress which advocates free health care and education.

Some candidates are campaigning for no particular reason and show an embarrassing lack of knowledge of the South African political system.

Leader Claire Emary of the Kiss party, which stands for "Keep It Straight and Simple", says "you do not need to know anything about politics" to run.

"I don't even know how many votes you need to get a seat in parliament. How many do you need?"

Entertaining electioneering indeed.