/ 12 March 2014

Mantashe questions minorities on ANC list

ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe.
ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe.

A blurb in the original version of this article implied that Mantashe disagreed with the ANC's inclusion of minority candidates on its election lists. This is inaccurate and was introduced during editing. We regret the error. However, we stand by the article itself which reflected and accurately captured Mantashe's comments. Listen to the podcast for the full speech and question and answer session, or a shorter extract of his comments.

Some of the ANC's National Assembly nominees did not deserve to be on the list, ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe said.

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Mantashe said the party included "minority" races on its candidate list for the 2014 general elections based on policy quotas rather than actually earning the nominations. 

"They sit back … they don't do work in their communities. They get rewarded because they are minorities. Why should we put them on the list? We reward them for doing nothing."

At a pre-election discussion on Tuesday, Mantashe talked about the ANC's nominations revealed earlier in the day; a collation of those whom the ruling party intends to send to Parliament and provincial legislatures after the 2014 elections. The list is peppered with Zuma loyalists and has been touted by some as a victory for those who sided with him at the party's elective conference in Mangaung in December 2012. 

He said he disagreed with the practice, and that if the candidates were not actively bringing people into the party, then they should not be nominated.

"People must work and earn their space in the list to Parliament, but when I see the situation we put them on the list [anyway]," said Mantashe, eliciting laughs from a receptive audience at Regenesys Business School in Sandton.

Despite poo-pooing the party's apparent obligatory "minority" nominations, Mantashe touted the party's gender quota as a point of pride.

"The candidates submitted [on Tuesday] are … not less than 50% women," said Mantashe. "It's a matter of policy in the ANC. We don't have a 50/50 policy, we have a policy of not less than 50% being women.

Of the voters registered for this year's elections, 59% are women, said Mantashe. "They can't stay oppressed for very long." 

ANC leadership
In his outline of the ANC's leadership at the address about "Twenty years of delivery and moving South Africa forward", Mantashe was defensive of quota-driven black economic empowerment policy, or at least of the narrow band of exorbitantly wealthy black businesspeople that many believe the programme has produced.

"I don't feel sick when I see [multi-millionaires such as] Patrice Motsepe and [Cyril] Ramaphosa. I don't feel sick. I think, 'We need more of them'," said the secretary general. "I don't think we should be apologetic about it."

Nevertheless, Mantashe said that South Africans should guard against an entitlement mentality. "The term 'delivery' is a [double-edged] sword," said the secretary general.

"The word delivery creates a passive society, that doesn't appreciate that freedom means hard work. It doesn't mean waiting for things to be delivered to you."

Despite this, Mantashe was fiercely defensive of the country's social grant programme, which he touted as one of the most progressive in the world. He cited a recent Goldman Sachs report, which found that 16% of South Africans lived in poverty. The report found that, were it not for the grants, the percentage would be higher, he said.

"Many people say social grants are creating a lazy nation without appreciating the contribution it makes in decreasing abject poverty."