Secretary General Gwede Mantashe is one of the ruling ANC party’s most outspoken leaders; who is not afraid to lock horns with his critics.
As the ANC faces its worst testing times, Mantashe has made a strong appeal for unity in a party divided by faction and intrigue. He has been very critical of the fractions and groups who seem to be breaking away from the center which holds the party together; lambasting the veterans and stalwarts of the organization for bitterly chastising the movement from afar as counter forces, rather than playing a constructive role in rescuing the movement from sinking deeper into the ocean of crisis which threatens its stability.
He says that “factionalism is the cancer that eats organizations”.
Of course, as we are drawing nearer and nearer to December, Mantashe has attempted to take the responsibility of being the unifier of this organization, using his wisdom to articulate the constitution of the ANC to those who intend to read it upside down.
It is a role which he opportunistically uses to sustain his reputation as a good shepherd of the party and to firmly cement the impression that he is the restorer of morality. When in reality, he has failed to do justice to the politics of the ANC in terms of thinking and talking beyond just governing our country, he failed to take the problem seriously when years of corruption had ground the party down, and it is inconceivable that he was not aware of the seriousness of this problem. Accordingly, his sudden commitment in acting as a superglue of this organization under the pretext of restoring its reputation suggests, in more ways than one, that he is thirsty for recognition and aims that this will hopefully supplement his admiration when branches are electing their preferred leadership.
However, seeing his name in the ANC presidential hopeful Cyril Ramaphosa’s line-up team which he announced during a campaign rally in Limpopo last Saturday must have brought a big smile in his wrinkled face. Although pressure urged him to publicly denounce this declaration as unacceptable, Mantashe remains deeply enthused by the confidence bestowed upon him by Ramaphosa; he is silently overwhelmed and delighted to be picked because it is the realization of his greatest ambition. Politically speaking, Mantashe knew beforehand that his support for the succession of President Jacob Zuma by his Deputy Ramaphosa; would be his ticket of salvation to partake in the next leadership. Hence, the tone of his language about Zuma is slightly beginning to change lately; he is now embracing the idea of suggesting possible ways of removing Zuma using his political acumen, a long-awaited stand which he has been avoiding to take. In fact, his behavior is slowly boycotting Zuma although he avoids leaving himself open to charges of political bias.
In the midst of the political noise about the preparations for the 2019 elections, Mantashe’s relationship with Ramaphosa is growing healthier than his relationship with the ANC presidential hopeful Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, for many reasons. And one which stands out was when Dlamini-Zuma indirectly attacked Mantashe’s character saying that he is “not a true cadre of the ANC”, following Mantashe’s prophetic warning that, if President Zuma resists giving over the seat of presidency to his Deputy Cyril Ramaphosa, there will be a serious “crisis”.
Even though his prediction is quiet correct to Dlamini-Zuma, Mantashe will remain the false prophet.
Moreover, many people are uncertain about supporting Dlamini-Zuma not because she is a woman but because they are suspicious of her motives, and that she might be standing for everything that Zuma represents; she is perceived to be a political ashtray which Zuma hopes to use for the ashes of his wrongdoings. Some even go further to believe that if Dlamini-Zuma becomes the party’s next president, it is very possible that she will safeguard Zuma’s legacy, therefore exonerate and protect him from all the charges he faces, and that Zuma, himself, would directly interfere with the processes of governance.
If there is one thing which Gwede still needs to unlearn about his attitude going forward, it is to refrain from addressing issues only when they get out of hand or when it suits him, because this is the source of his fierce-arrogance which also puts the party in a state of deterioration. His interests must be informed by the tasks he needs to perform as a servant of the ANC and not by his pride of wisdom or experience.
Gwede is more than ready to fulfill his agenda of pushing his future president, Ramaphosa, to the political throne of power and therefore cannot wait to oust Zuma out of power, a traditional habit which is very common in the party politics.
And the question remains, what is he going to do and say next to show his readiness for Cyril?