ANC’s Gwede Mantashe hits back at critics who say he’s too old for politics

ANC’s Gwede Mantashe hits back at critics who say he’s too old for politics

ANC’s Gwede Mantashe hits back at critics who say he’s too old for politics

With activists calling for his head in government and his own comrades saying he is too old to remain at the helm, the African National Congress (ANC)’s Gwede Mantashe will have to rely on a charm offensive if he wants to be re-elected as national chair of the party this month.

While Mantashe insists he is not ready to retire from political life, some in the ANC say it’s time for a change of guard.

The 67-year-old politician is also the minerals and energy minister.

He is one of three leaders who’ve made it onto the ballot ahead of the ANC’s 55th national conference but is trailing behind Limpopo’s Stan Mathabatha.

Though Mantashe is ahead of David Masondo, the third contender, some argue the much younger leader could be a necessary departure from the tradition of an elder being elected as chairperson.

Mantashe barely had any competition in 2017, when Nasrec 1 took place but he returns to the venue with a strong pushback for him to retire.

He’s dismissed such arguments, hitting back at those who say his time is up.

“Those people celebrated the return of Lulu da Silva as president of Brazil but when it is here, they begin to talk about age even where age is irrelevant.”

Mantashe is a mining man, with a communist background, who’s found it relatively easy to engage with different communities over the years.

He’s served as an official in the ANC since 2007, where he was elected secretary-general at the controversial Polokwane conference.

He was re-elected in 2012 and five years later he was back as an official but in a different capacity.

This time around Mantashe’s facing a hurdle called Stan Mathabatha, who’s got over 1,400 nominations.

Analyst Sandile Swana said that Mantashe had to go to the ground if he wanted to clinch support away from Mathabatha.

“So it’s a problem for Gwede. To correct these numbers, he needs to be supported by somebody who has a lot of support and those people are Paul Mashatile and Nomvula Mokonyane.”

The ANC will elect new leaders at its national conference which takes place between 16 and 20 December.

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