ANC chairperson Gwede Mantashe believes he is under attack by various forces that are trying to drive a wedge between him and President Cyril Ramaphosa.
Mantashe’s extraordinary claim comes as the race for the ANC’s top six hots up, with the question of who will be Ramaphosa’s deputy if he gets a second term being the most contentious.
The mineral resources and energy minister seems to have fallen out of favour with Ramaphosa’s lobbyists, who are looking at candidates other than the ambitious Mantashe.
The tenacious Mantashe has found himself increasingly isolated in the party, and expectations that Ramaphosa’s #CR22 lobby will reward his “fellow trade unionist” loyalty with the keys to the second-highest office in Luthuli House are being opposed.
Insiders say Mantashe is being pipped by the likes Justice and Correctional Services Minister Ronald Lamola, Defence and Military Veterans Minister Thandi Modise and ANC treasurer-general Paul Mashatile.Paul Mashatile. Photo: Cornel van Heerden
OUT TO GET ME
Mantashe told City Press that he had no interest in becoming the country’s deputy president, arguing that this position should go to a younger person who would be in line to succeed Ramaphosa. He said there was a negative narrative regarding him driven by a foreign-funded campaign involving the “predominantly white liberal media”, research institutions and civil society groups intent on destabilising his department’s work and souring his relationship with Ramaphosa.
Yesterday, he said the campaign had failed, adding:I’m a minister appointed by the president and I have not been reshuffled. Leave the president out of it because [the campaign] is a foreign-funded programme that is run by institutions here.
Mantashe said his relationship with Ramaphosa was under the spotlight because “many in the media do not want to talk about mining because it is doing well and maybe it is making me look better”.
“I’m running [my portfolio] to the best of my ability. Many journalists and editors have created a picture of an isolated Gwede Mantashe. I’m running [the department of] mineral resources and energy. I’m not running renewable energy. I’m running mineral resources and energy.”
He said that through his work, “mining led the reconstruction and recovery of the economy and basically rescued the fiscus”.
In June, Ramaphosa strong-armed Mantashe into raising the threshold for embedded power generation projects from 1MW to 100MW to allow more room for companies to generate their own electricity and reduce the load on Eskom’s grid.
Mantashe had been steadfast that the threshold should be kept at 50MW, and he was taken by surprise when Ramaphosa made a different pronouncement.
More recently, the minister was a lone wolf in fighting for the continued use of coal in the country’s energy mix.
Sources said his troubles started at November’s UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow, Scotland, where South Africa was offered a loan to phase out its dependency on coal for the generation of electricity.
Evidently he and his Cabinet colleague, Forestry, Fisheries and Environmental Affairs Minister Barbara Creecy, are not reading from the same script.
Mantashe’s office has since then been wary of what it views to be a “coordinated media campaign” to isolate him and label him as the main obstacle in the country’s planned transition to clean energy.
MANTASHE POINTS FINGERS
The minister said his department was monitoring funds from the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation in the UK, “which is channelled to an institution based in the University of Cape Town [UCT], which funds a number of projects including aspects of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research [CSIR] and other civil society groups to destabilise the work of the department”.
“But because we are aware, we can confront it. The money is from the UK, goes through UCT – through an institution I will not name – which channels the money to the CSIR and civil society [organisations]. The fact that we are aware makes us able to actually deal with the reality that we are confronted with.”
He said the department was in possession of a detailed report from the CSIR, “which we got hold of and that outlines those details”.
“Don’t ask me how we got hold of that report,” he said.The CSIR has refused to talk to us, and we have tried many times. The CSIR has refused any meeting that we have asked for to discuss the issue of energy.
According to its website,the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation is the world’s largest philanthropic organisation that focuses specifically on improving children’s lives.
It describes itself thus: “We are an independent philanthropic organisation, with offices in Addis Ababa, Beijing, London, Nairobi and New Delhi. We work with a range of partners seeking to transform the lives of children and adolescents. Partnerships are critical, because it will take the combined efforts of many to tackle urgently the challenges faced by children and their families every day. We have no religious or political affiliation.”
CSIR spokesperson Tendani Tsedu said the organisation was unaware of the issues raised.
“As the CSIR, we have a good relationship with the department of mineral resources and energy. We have numerous engagements with the department around mining, climate change as well as energy.”
I’M NOT INTERESTED IN DEPUTY POSITION
Mantashe insisted that those who say he wants to be deputy are hallucinating because, “when in campaign mode, people tend to imagine things that do not exist. Anybody will know that I do not want to be the deputy president. I think the deputy president must be a younger and more energetic person who is also considered for succession.
“I’m old. When the president retires, if he takes another term, I will retire as well. So why should I chase a position for the sake of a position?”
But his opponents said that the findings in the Zondo commission’s upcoming reports would dent Mantashe’s chances of getting any position at all.
A source said:Gwede is out. He will be implicated by the commission’s report and will have to step aside.
The lobby for his Eastern Cape homeboy, Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana, for the same post is squeezing Mantashe’s lobby even further. Both would need the support of their back yard, the Chris Hani region, to boost their chances of featuring in the new ANC top six.
Yesterday, Mantashe would only say: “We cannot fight with Enoch on a campaign that does not exist.”
Godongwana could not be reached for comment because the ANC national executive committee (NEC) lekgotla has been sitting since Friday.
MABUZA FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL
However, during the ANC’s birthday celebrations in Limpopo last week, City Press learnt that a new #CR22 slate was doing the rounds, with Deputy President David Mabuza earmarked for the secretary-general position.
An NEC member said Mabuza had agreed to the suggestion, which would leave his position vacant.
“Mabuza believes that being the secretary-general gives him a better chance to become the future president, as the position deals with branches directly,” said an insider.
The person said Mantashe had allegedly confronted Godongwana and told him to stop telling party members that he is too old and is unavailable “for the party’s second-most powerful position”.
The person said Godongwana also lobbied the members to agree with Ramaphosa’s second-term campaign, as he had done a splendid job during his first term as party leader.
A CROWDED ROOM
Godongwana’s lobby is also stepping into a stampede, with the Umkhonto weSizwe faction in the #CR22 group already invested in Modise as its candidate.Thandi Modise. Photo: Deon Raath
The spokesperson for the ANC Veteran’s League in Limpopo, Thabiso Mampuru, who could not be reached for comment, was mentioned as one of the chief campaigners for Modise. However, another person in Modise’s camp said the name Mampuru was not familiar.
Lamola has made much of the need for a “generational mix” in the ANC’s top echelons. When interviewed by the SABC last week, he was again asked about his ANC ambitions.slide 1 of 1Ronald Lamola. Photo: GCIS
He replied:I will answer that question at the right time. I cannot answer it now; I will answer it when the election commission of the ANC asks me [whether he is prepared to stand as deputy president].
The 38-year-old is allegedly piggybacking on the drive by the so-called Venda faction in the #CR22 camp to elbow Mantashe out of the race, and is hoping to capitalise on that.
“Gwede is being pushed out by the Venda faction, and is cleaning everything and everyone in the NEC,” said a KwaZulu-Natal-based #CR22 campaigner.
A person favouring Lamola said: “There is no region or branch that is talking about Gwede. So far, we have not heard anything. I’m aware that he thinks he is ready, but it is not something anyone is considering.”
The person said ANC structures across the country were being led by people from the generation just before Lamola and those who served with him in the ANC Youth League.
“We speak about a generational mix and even Godongwana is out of the picture. For us to renew and revive the ANC, we need to give the young blood a chance. It is not about honouring people for their role in the struggle, but about taking the ANC forward.”