THE HIGHWAYMEN PODCAST
Don’t be fooled by Ramaphoria 2.0, King Gwede rules South Africa
Make no mistake — Gwede Mantashe now rules South Africa. We should probably get to know him better, so that we don’t fall into the same old sorry delusions we always do.
Oh boy, the pundit class is at it again.
A new, milder form of Ramaphoria 2.0 is sweeping our news feeds, with the bizarre assertion that Cyril Ramaphosa “won” December’s ANC electoral conference, having installed “his” people in top positions within the National Executive Committee. He will now be able to “clean up” the ANC and the government bureaucracy, while advancing whatever policies his committees recommend to him.
This is laughable.
First, no one seems to be asking what Ramaphosa had to give up in order to secure this “win”. Second, even fewer pundits seem to be concerned with the person who orchestrated this outcome. That would be Samson Gwede Mantashe, who emerged from December’s conference by far the most powerful man in South Africa, and the de facto winner of the ANC’s pantomime of democratic contestation.
But who is Gwede Mantashe? We know that he is the Minister of the Department of Minerals and Energy, and we know he loves fossil fuels. But if he’s the actual president of South Africa — which we contend he is — shouldn’t we know more about his origin story, and how he’s played the field so successfully?
In Daily Maverick’s hit podcast The Highwaymen — South Africa’s top news podcast for the past 12 weeks, according to Apple — we insist that Gwede is the boss, and to an extent has been for the past 15 years. We explain his back story, his hopes, and his dreams for a Saudi Arabian-style oil sheikdom led by, well, Gwede — our very own coal-dusted Wizard of Oz.
Make no mistake: Gwede, who was reelected ANC chairperson at the December conference, now rules South Africa.
We should probably get to know him better, so that we don’t fall into the same old sorry delusions we always do.
Listen to episodes six and seven of The Highwaymen:
As we delve into Mantashe’s life, we learn about his history in organised labour, and the role unions played in bringing down apartheid. But as the democratic age deepened, organised labour became embedded in the ANC, and Mantashe became the company man — a genial version of a mob boss.
Gwede Mantashe presides over the most important portfolio in the Cabinet — mining and energy. He’s run it like a fiefdom, trying to shut down any real commitment to a green energy transition.
We also explore how Mantashe aided and abetted State Capture, and the slow but sure creep toward a gangster state — and all-out gang warfare. DM