On Friday, Gwede Mantashe is ready to hang up his boots as ANC secretary general, because the job will kill him, he said
“It is too strenuous for me. I have done 10 years. It’s like 10 years in an oven. You can’t take it beyond 10 years. It’s too strenuous, it will kill me,” Mantashe said.
When asked if he would run for ANC deputy president, Mantashe answered: “I am not sure. I won’t be a secretary general, that much I know.”
Treasurer general was out of the question as his weakest point was raising funds, and deputy secretary general was too junior a position.
“There are two positions in top six that are open. It’s deputy president and national chair, that is all. No one has nominated me for either, so it will be very presumptuous of me,” Mantashe said.
He is however still ready to serve the party. He said Cyril Ramaphosa was secretary general before he became deputy president. “Some in the party had been lobbying for him to take up the same position”, Mantashe said.
Mantashe assumed his current position in 2007. He said his beard had become grey since then.
“Look at my beard in that picture [from 2007]. It is pitch black. Look how it is now. That is what this office does to you. Taking it beyond 10 years, it’s like committing suicide,” he said.
The ANC is trying to manage the run-up to its elective conference, scheduled for December 2017, to ensure it does not result in divisions, which could cost it support in the 2019 national elections.
It is hoping the qualities of nominees to replace President Jacob Zuma would come under scrutiny and that it would not descend into a popularity contest.
Rampahosa, African Union Commission chair Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, and National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete had all been named as possible successors to Zuma.
“If we allowed a stampede and everyone just says ‘I am throwing my name in hat’ it will cause a messy competition. My own view is we should go back to the basic documents of the ANC,” Mantashe said.