ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe will live in a DA ward after Wednesday’s local government elections, but he still finds time to joke about it.
“I think somebody planned it,” he quipped, when asked whether it was a conspiracy. Mantashe’s ward 42 was an ANC ward, but new ward demarcation meant he now lived in ward 43.
Mantashe himself was a ward councillor in Boksburg, “the city of endless opportunity”, from 1995 to 2000, but in another ward.
A jovial Mantashe, clad in a yellow T-shirt with a khaki jacket bearing the ANC logo, arrived more than an hour after the opening of his Boksburg polling station Freeway Park Primary School with his 25-year-old son Buyambo, where he insisted on joining the back of a queue of about 100 people despite offers to move him to the front.
He said he was up late at the national results centre in Pretoria the night before, “but there were no results trickling in yet”.
Mantashe, like other party leaders, will return to the results centre after voting closed tonight.
Buyambo said he’s studying an MA in agriculture in Beijing, China, but they were on holiday now so he was able to come and vote. Like his father, he too was wearing a jacket with an ANC logo.
Both showed off their logos when asked whether their vote, like that of former president Thabo Mbeki, were a secret.
He said South African voters “must all go and vote, it is a very important right”, regardless of which party they were voting for.
“We are taking it for granted, but we [all South Africans] didn’t have it [the vote] for years. We have it now, and we must exercise it fully.”
“Young people make a mess of politics”
Pointing to his son, he said: “As you can see I am grooming young people. Vote now, cause a mess later,” he quipped, adding that “young people make a mess of politics”.
He exchanged a Chinese greeting with his son, but said he knew very little Mandarin, while his son at least knew the word for “beautiful”, but not the words for “elections victory”.
Asked why he said young people did not belong in politics, Mantashe replied that “young people” were blocking roads in Mogale City the night before, although he would not say from which party they were.
Asked whether this meant he wanted to see the ANC’s Youth League shut down, Mantashe said: “No, they must practise there, and then exercise politics later. But they are in a hurry, they won’t do. They take over now, they [want to] be mayors,” he said.
Mantashe did not, however, mention the name of former ANCYL task team convenor Mzwandile Masina, who was the ANC’s candidate in Ekurhuleni Metro, where Boksburg is situated.
Asked about the ANC’s campaign, Mantashe said it was “very exciting, very energising”.
He had a few words of wisdom for the opposition DA.
“You must never peak early, you never peak early. Because when you peak early, you’re tired,” he said.
“We [the ANC] always plan our election campaign. We start slow, put the infrastructure and machinery in place, then campaign.”