Get more Mail & Guardian
Subscribe or Login

Either way, Mantashe to remain in ANC top six

ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe has emerged as a favourite of both of the party’s two main factions, with lobbyists for deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa and Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma moving to have him appear on their slates for the position of chairperson when the party goes to its elective conference in December.

Mantashe was earlier tipped for the deputy president position, but he has already declined attempts to persuade him to stand as Ramaphosa’s deputy, saying the ANC would not accept an all-male presidency.

This week, ANC Ekurhuleni chairperson Mzwandile Masina, known to be a close ally of President Jacob Zuma, announced that the regional executive committee had decided to endorse Mantashe for the position.

Masina’s deputy, Robert Mashego, told the Mail & Guardian this week that the work Mantashe had done as secretary general warranted his re-election into the party’s top six and that the Ekurhuleni region would communicate this to its branches.

“He [Mantashe] has not shown interest in the position, but it is our intention to persuade him and persuade branches to bring him up for nomination,” Mashego said. Ekurhuleni also endorsed Dlamini-Zuma as president and Gauteng ANC chairperson Paul Mashatile as treasurer general.

The endorsement by Ekurhuleni comes despite long-standing tensions between Mantashe and Zuma supporters, who believe the secretary general to be untrustworthy because of his often critical view of the president.

Mantashe was scathing in his criticism in 2013 when the Gupta family landed their private plane, full of wedding guests, at the Waterkloof airbase. He criticised former police minister Nathi Nhleko’s report on the Nkandla debacle and expressed unhappiness about the president’s midnight Cabinet reshuffle in March. He was also unhappy with Zuma’s decision to replace then finance minister Nhlanhla Nene with Des van Rooyen in late 2015.

Mantashe’s diagnostic organisational report, presented at the ANC’s national policy conference in July, attributed much of the party’s declining support to public concerns over Zuma’s actions.

Despite these differences, the influence Mantashe wields has been enough to convince both the pro-Dlamini-Zuma Ekurhuleni regional executive and the pro-Ramaphosa trade union federation Cosatu of his suitability to play a major role post-December.

Cosatu spokesperson Sizwe Pamla told the M&G this week that Mantashe possessed all the qualities the federation wanted in a leader.

“He brings a lot of experience. He has finished a decade as secretary general and that tells you a lot, and we as Cosatu believe there aren’t many with the secretary general’s grasp of the plight of the workers,” Pamla said. “You can accuse him of a lot of things, but he is not a populist. He has vices, yes, but he is one of the few people in the ANC that can resuscitate and unite the organisation and the alliance.”

In the lead-up to the ANC’s 2012 Mangaung conference, Mantashe appeared on the slates of two factions — one that wanted Zuma retained as president and another that wanted him replaced with his then deputy, Kgalema Motlanthe. In the end it was Zuma, Mantashe’s preferred candidate, who was elected to the position.

A firm favourite at the conference himself, Mantashe secured a landslide victory to become secretary general, securing 3 058 votes against Fikile Mbalula’s 908.

Mantashe’s broad appeal stems from the reach and access he has to ordinary party members. His position sees him regularly interacting with provincial and regional secretaries who have direct influence over branches, a factor that should allow him to draw big numbers.

The first general secretary of the South African Communist Party, Solly Mapaila, said that, despite some differences he had with Mantashe, he understood why opposing factions would tussle to have him on their side. “There are times when I disagree with him, but he always seeks to do what is best for the ANC — and that is why various structures of the ANC are fighting to ensure that his influence remains in the party’s top six,” Mapaila said.

“More than anyone else, he has vowed to represent the collective … even to the discomfort of some of us, in some instances. Based on that alone, his presence in the ANC’s top six will always be valuable and needed.”

University of the Witwatersrand political analyst Susan Booysen said, although Mantashe’s ambitions to be deputy president appeared to have died down, the ANC needed to retain him in its top six to make use of the influence and power he wielded.

“At some point, Gwede has acted as a de facto prime minister, making key decisions on policy, playing a big role in preserving the unity of the ANC and being one of the organisation’s strongest defenders,” she said.

Another political analyst, William Gumede, said the ball was now in Mantashe’s court to decide which faction would offer him the most.

“Both factions want to have Gwede in their top six because of the massive support he has in the party. They will want to keep him close because he will be able to get them some votes. But the problem then is what they would be able to offer Gwede.” 

Subscribe to the M&G

Thanks for enjoying the Mail & Guardian, we’re proud of our 36 year history, throughout which we have delivered to readers the most important, unbiased stories in South Africa. Good journalism costs, though, and right from our very first edition we’ve relied on reader subscriptions to protect our independence.

Digital subscribers get access to all of our award-winning journalism, including premium features, as well as exclusive events, newsletters, webinars and the cryptic crossword. Click here to find out how to join them.

Given Sigauqwe
Dineo Bendile
Dineo Bendile works from Johannesburg. Political reporter. BLACK. Dineo Bendile has over 2712 followers on Twitter.

Related stories


If you’re reading this, you clearly have great taste

If you haven’t already, you can subscribe to the Mail & Guardian for less than the cost of a cup of coffee a week, and get more great reads.

Already a subscriber? Sign in here


Subscribers only

RECAP: Mbeki tells ANC that land without compensation goes against...

‘This would be a very serious disincentive to investment,’ says Thabo Mbeki in a document arguing that the ANC should not proceed with the Constitutional amendment of section 25

R15m to rid Gauteng of dirty air

The World Bank is funding a plan to deal with air pollution in Ekurhuleni, Tshwane and Johannesburg

More top stories

South Africa Navy’s strike craft lands in Mozambique

We reveal details of the South African National Defence Force’s contribution to the Southern African Development Community’s military mission to rid Mozambique of insurgents

The 30-day rule: Why you have to wait for a...

Scientists know that people who have had Covid still benefit from getting vaccinated with at least one shot of the vaccine. But can you get vaccinated while you have Covid?

RECAP: Mbeki tells ANC that land without compensation goes against...

‘This would be a very serious disincentive to investment,’ says Thabo Mbeki in a document arguing that the ANC should not proceed with the Constitutional amendment of section 25

Malawi moves to Maggie Mkandawire’s beat

Empowering her people through music and education, Maggie Mkandawire fights the Covid-19 pandemic in her own unique way

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…