Gwede Mantashe ‘leads’ the ANC astray


“Truth, while never absolute, must be the badge of good leadership” - Barney Pityana

I do not know Mr Mantashe personally and I have never had the opportunity to use Psychological tools (e.g. inventories, interviews or Assessment Centres) to assess his leadership. I teach Organisational Behaviour at University, and as part of the course, I teach Leadership in organisations. Mr Mantashe took my interest and that of my students because he is a Leader of a political organisation (ANC), and in the ongoing debate in South Africa about decolonisation of our curriculum; watching him, reading about him, reviewing his party documents gives me some information that I could use in my leadership seminars to make some tentative conclusions about his leadership.

Organisational Behaviour as an applied behavioural science borrows from many social sciences including economics, anthropology, sociology, psychology (social), and most importantly, political sciences. We use some of the theories developed in these sciences to try and understand human behaviour in the workplace.

In a ‘post’-colonial/apartheid Africa, political leaders embody to some extent, the qualities of an African leader, and through studying them as case studies, we’ll be able to teach leadership theories that are informed by our context and our circumstances.

My analysis of Mr Gwede Mantashe is informed by that analysis of organisational behaviour—because his role is that of a leader in the ANC even though, he is viewed as ‘mere’ correspondent, Mr Mantashe is a leader of an organisation in his own right. In fact, subsection 16.7 of the Constitution of the ANC (2012) provides that; in the absence of the President and the Deputy President, the Secretary General shall assume the functions of the President.

Mr Mantashe represents in the media, with confidence the views and opinions of the ruling elite in the organisation; the National Executive and Working Committees.

The fate of any organization is largely a function of that organisation's leadership. As such, its leaders bear the brunt of any failure and collectively rejoice at any success the organisation attains.

Observing the recent events in the African National Congress (ANC), as an organisation, makes it even more interesting to teach organisational behaviour, especially, leadership and organisations.

Zooming into Mr Mantashe, as a leader on events leading to the 2016 local government elections

On the 31st march, 2016, the secretary general of the ANC, Mr Mantashe cautioned people against the argument to recall President Zuma. Mr Mantashe argued that such a move would destroy the organisation (ANC). I recall the recalling of former President Mbeki, Mantashe did not mince his words, he did not even consider the life of the party, he openly supported the move to dismiss Mbeki on party allegations that, Mbeki “misused power”, presumably, he has learned from the mistakes of the past, he is now concerned that the recalling of president Zuma would cause in the party, for something the party purports to have fought for, the Constitutional democracy.

Just before the local elections, Mr Mantashe insisted on having the chairperson of the ANC in the Western Cape, Mr Marius Franscman appear before his disciplinary committee on charges that had been dropped by the National Prosecuting Authority

This reminds me of how Mr Mantashe insisted on holding ‘disciplinary’ hearing on the former NUM branch chair, Mr Mathunjwa who is now the leader of NUM’s rival union, AMCU. Mr Mathunjwa at the time was the champion of underground mine workers’ issues. Mr Mantashe’s insistence on ‘disciplinary’ procedure against Mr Mathunjwa followed several NUM representatives who investigated Mathunjwa’s conduct and found nothing wrong—Mr Mantashe still felt, Mr Mathunjwa had put NUM in ‘disrepute’

Mr Fransman and Mathunjwa represented different constituencies in the Western Cape and in the platinum belt.

Recently, we’ve seen the province of Kwazulu natal ‘recall’ its premier, Mr Senzo Mchunu. The biggest branch of the ruling ANC is in KZN—meaning, their support base is largely based on that province, any political instability poses a threat of disturbalising the organisation. However, Mr Mantashe insisted that the ANC made a correct decision for removing Mchunu and followed the correct procedure. The unhappiness in the alliance partners was ‘confusing’ to Mr Mantashe Mr Mchunu also represents a constituency in KZN, in fact, any leadership instability will affect the party’s performance in the local elections.

Tracing Mr Mantashe’s leadership

In September 2012, the University of Fort Hare's African Renaissance Students Association invited the then Human Settlement Minister to give a speech under the topic; 'Legacies of the Forefathers and the Youth of the African Continent Today'. After disputes within the leadership of the students’ society to invite presidential hopeful, the then ANC Presidential contender, Sexwale, the organisation agreed to extend invitation to Mr Sexwale. There were other important speakers in the colloquium that were invited, including the late and first Vice Chancellor of the University of Fort Hare, Professor Mbulelo Mzamane and UNISA’s Professor Shadrack Gutto.

During his speech, Sexwale launched an offensive on the ANC leadership and off-script he attacked the ANC's Secretary General, Mr Gwede Mantashe. Sexwale commented that since Mantashe took over as SG of the ANC, he has been running the party like a shop-Steward running a 'shop'. Sexwale labelled Mantashe and the ANC leadership as dedicated to destroying the legacy of 'his' forefathers

Since Sexwale's speech in 2012, I've taken a critical look at Mr Mantashe's leadership, from afar. I've also read some history of where this man (Mr Mantashe) comes from and what qualifies him to be SG of the ruling party, what led to his election as SG of the ruling party.

Soon after he took over from Mr Motlante, Mantashe and other influential leaders in Mr Zuma’s NEC, resolved to expel Mr Julius Malema as an ANC Youth Leaders and member of the ANC. Warned by his predecessor, Kgalema Montlante, the ANC through its SG confidently defended its position. And the same dismissed Malema, just like Mr Mathunjwa to the NUM, is now an unavoidable pain in the ANC.

So I asked myself questions, why did the ANC deem Mr Mantashe 'appropriate' for the critical position of SG in the party?

I leaned that he graduated with a B.Com degree in the early 90s and an Honours degree early 2000s.

Did the ANC find him 'appropriate' because of his academic qualifications? I asked myself.

Or perhaps, is it based on his 'appointment' as one of the Directors a world mining giant, Samancor, a giant which supplies 30% of the world's ferrochrome?

Ok, maybe his leadership ‘skills’ mattered most in the Zuma led ANC.

Let’s break down some of the most obvious and glaring leadership personality characteristics of Mr Mantashe.

Two words; Narcissistic and Toxic.

In John Ayto’s book entitled: Movers and Shakers: Chronology of Words that shaped our age, traces the origins of the word to Paul Nacke in 1899 in Germany. Before Paul Nacke, the word was used by Havelock Ellis in the 18th century referring to a clinical condition of being perverse and self-love. This was after a Greek youth named Narcissus fell in love with his own self in a fountain (see John Ayto’s book).

The word came into the leadership debate with the question; is it good or bad for a leader to be narcissist?

And because the debate around the question was premised on the trait theory, it became necessary to point out some of the traits that would qualify one to be called a narcissistic leader.

Toxic leader

Theo Veldsman’s concept of ‘Toxic’ Leader could also fit Mr Mantashe, especially when one reads the word of former minister, Mr Toyko Sexwale. Very self-destructive and ultimately destructive and harmful to the organisation they lead

Professor Veldsman lists 7 factors that qualify one to be toxic leader. These are; grandiosity, arrogance, self-absorption, entitlement, fragile self-esteem and hostility. Mr Mantashe has all of these traits, perhaps with an exception of fragile self-esteem. His self eestem seems balanced all the time even if he is misleading the members of his party—he does it with outmost confidence—premised on grandiosity.

Majority of his leadership traits would suit a trade unionist in the early formation years of NUM, but for a ruling party, maybe these traits could lead to the downfall of that ruling party, because they make one vulnerable to critics due to their irrational comments, sometimes shockingly arrogant media presentations.

The ANC under Mr Mantshe resembles exactly what Mr Sexwale referred to in 2012 at the University of Fort Hare. The ANC under Mr Mantashe 'is' a mere 'shop' whose constituency is shackled on the main pole of the shop building, to be removed when the shop building gets bulldozed---but someone must remind him, the ANC's constituency especially the affluent middle and upper classes are not shackled--they see the arrogance and negligent behaviour exhibited by the SG, and this might harm the party, big time!

In fact, Mr Mantashe must be referred back to the leaked internal ANC report that he wrote in 2014. In his report, Mr Mantashe illustrated the fact that the organisation (ANC) might lose the support of the middle class and youth constituencies

Sadly, the event leading to the recent local government elections, the SG had forgotten all that.  If he remembered, he would have known the middle classes and the educated and political literate youth would point out the ANC failure to reprimand its president following the Constitutional court ruling that pointed out that the president violated his Constitutional mandate.

Mantashe followed Mr Kgalema Montlante as NUM general secretary to Secretary General of the ANC but the damage he caused in both formations (NUM and ANC) cannot be compared to the leadership Mr Montlante showed in both portfolios.

The most notable ANC conference in Polokwane elected not only the disastrous, morally bankrupt ANC president (Mr J Zuma) but also useless, self-centred and narcissistic SG, with toxic leadership tendencies.

That conference should be viewed as the conference that marked the slow death of the oldest African "liberation" movement, the ANC.

Clearly, Mr Mantashe is not worth talking about in organisational behaviour theories of South African leadership—unless the question is how political organisations elect leaders who lead their organisations astray—unless the idea is to teach leadership that will have a bad record in the history of some of the well-known brands, the ANC being one of them.

His toxic leadership style has led to an organisation (ANC) that Professor Veldsman characterises as; paranoid (defensive, afraid, suspicious, trusting no-one or nobody), compulsive (over planned and over-programmed organisation), Hyperactive (impulsive, unfocussed organisations, acting like adolescent), delusional (reality estranged, make-believe organisation, living in a world of its own) and lastly, Conscienceless (the unethical and amoral organisation)

It is important as we sick to develop context-specific theories in our curriculum to use some of the examples that politicians who are in charge of big organisations have provided and continue to provide us with. Over the years, there has been overreliance by researchers in the field of OB to study and understand corporate leaders, with little or no interest in political leaders, except in Political Studies. I believe that studying their personalities, their past, and their performances will form part of the psychobiographical accounts of leadership which will then help us to theorise our own kind of leadership theories to ‘discuss’ with our students.

Mr Mantashe, the history will judge ‘you’ harshly Sir, you will pay for all the mess and discord you’ve caused with your toxic and narcissistic leadership in ‘your’ organisation (ANC).You have presided and represented with outmost confidence disputed decisions of a “broken organisation led by a broken man”-- Mr Musi Maimane’s words are becoming more and more relevant, and you give impetus to all this. You have led your organisation astray.

News24 Voices Terms & Conditions

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For only R75 per month, you have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today.
Subscribe to News24
Lockdown For
Voting Booth
Matric results are out! Are you happy with your child's result?
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
No, the pandemic really messed up their ability to focus
34% - 933 votes
Yes, they did well given the circumstances
66% - 1791 votes
Rand - Dollar
Rand - Pound
Rand - Euro
Rand - Aus dollar
Rand - Yen
Brent Crude
Top 40
All Share
Resource 10
Industrial 25
Financial 15
All JSE data delayed by at least 15 minutes Iress logo
Editorial feedback and complaints

Contact the public editor with feedback for our journalists, complaints, queries or suggestions about articles on News24.