Outgoing African National Congress secretary-general Gwede Mantashe believes the governing party will win the 2019 general elections irrespective of whether Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma or Cyril Ramaphosa gets elected as the next leader of the ANC during its much-anticipated 54th national conference this weekend.
Mantashe – who has served 10 years as the ANC’s principal administrator – said the upcoming conference was an opportunity for the party to emerge united and stronger with better policies to sell to the electorate ahead of the elections.
“The ANC will come through this conference a better ANC, and it will go ahead and win the election in 2019. We are going to this conference with our eyes not on the 20th of December, our eyes are on 2019,” said Mantashe on Tuesday night in an interview with Talk Radio 702’s Karima Brown.
“Everything we do we put our energy on ensuring that the ANC comes out intact, better, strong, and with a better framework of policies that will allow it to win the elections in 2019,” he added.
Mantashe said the biggest challenge he faced during his tenure as the ANC’s secretary-general was dealing with the daily damage to the party’s reputation. He said on a number of fronts the ANC was being associated with corruption and made to be synonymous with corruption.
“The most difficult task was to deal with an organisation whose image and reputation was being dented. Brand ANC was damaged every day, and that was the most difficult to be honest,” said Mantashe.
“… It is one of the challenges that this conference must deal with. The first act it [the national conference] must send a clear message that it will deal with that [corruption] in the election of the leadership.”
He said he wanted to be remembered for doing “everything at the centre to keep the ANC together when it could have torn itself apart”.
Mantashe also said he could not take the blame as secretary-general for the breakdown in relations between ANC and its tripartite alliance partners, South African Communist Party (SACP) and Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu).