Isaac Mangena
Isaac Mangena

Zuma should beware the No.10 jersey in the NEC

He is a hard worker, ambitious, charismatic, an intellectual, a prolific spinner and he’s very rich. He can also be a schemer of note. These are the characteristics of member No. 10 in the ruling ANC’s current National Executive Committee.

He also has the business acumen of Mitt Romney and presidential aspirations one can liken to those of the then young Chicago politician, Barack Obama. He is none other than Mosima Sexwale, also known as Tokyo in political circles.

I had underestimated this former premier of the PWV, now Gauteng, until recently when it became clearer that No. 10 may steal a winner in the last minute in Mangaung.

For a while, President Jacob Zuma and his camp had focused their efforts on preventing Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe from upsetting his ambitions for a second term at the ANC’s 53rd congress in Bloemfontein. And while they knew he was neutralised on the political pitch, no one saw this other lethal politician making an overlap from the obscure blind side. That’s Sexwale, who cut his teeth in politics at Robben Island where he served with Nelson Mandela – the person many believe he learnt how to be the best leader from – among others.

The best leader? Personally I think he has it in him. Although he strikes me as the most desperate and opportunistic politician, in comparison with our current president he wins hands down.

Sexwale has recently been hard at work, showing he wants to succeed Zuma at Mangaung. “No one owns that conference, it will be wrong. We go into that conference to engage to improve the ANC and make it a better organisation than it was yesterday,” Sexwale said in the Eastern Cape recently. My colleague Lerato Tsebe thinks Sexwale is cast under a dark cloud by many (at their own risk). And she thinks if Motlanthe doesn’t raise his hand, Tokyo might steal the position from under his nose. “Motlanthe must strap up his boots and prepare for war. Tokyo, like Lindiwe [Sisulu, defence minister] is hungry and is not afraid of the sight of blood.”

Lerato thinks with NEC No. 10 positioning himself alongside Motlanthe and Zuma for the Mangaung showdown, “the world will witness a factional dog fight that will make Polokwane look like an afternoon walk in the park.”

That Sexwale is a fearless fighter, as Lerato alluded to, became clear on his recent visit to Eastern Cape where he took a first on-target salvo at Zuma, suggesting Msholozi was protecting Mdluli when he lambasted “political interference and partiality” in handling of the former intelligence chief’s investigations. And he echoed former embattled youth league leader Julius Malema’s fears of Zuma acting like a dictator. “We put people in authority and we get terrified of them … you fear the president. South Africa cannot be reduced to a country of fear.” Sexwale also suggested, in a thinly-veiled reference to Zuma, that all presidents should step down after their first term like Mandela did. That to me sounds like a man with clear intentions.

But where is Motlanthe who was touted to replace Zuma? It would seem Zuma is managing to deal with him accordingly. If he is not sent on frequent trips overseas (he’s going to Turkey now), he is being thrown on a coalition course with the electorate and Cosatu by being made to clean up the mess that is e-tolling.

I think Motlanthe is rendering himself a disservice by locking himself in a cocoon. And I’m afraid he’s giving No. 10 a free role that positions him as the face of the ABZ (Anybody But Zuma) faction. Reports says this faction has a list making the rounds which features ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe as Sexwale’s deputy, North West Premier Thandi Modise as national chairman, and arts and culture minister Paul Mashatile as treasurer general. No Motlanthe.

Tokyo is no stranger to attempting leadership. He tried twice and failed. He probably has done his homework and this could be his ‘third time lucky’.

First, his ministry of human settlements puts him in a pole position to be in touch with people. Being an exploiter of note, No. 10 took what Zuma thought was an insignificant position in government and turned it into a weapon to be loved by the poor. He is the guy who went to Diepsloot and spent a night there. His spin doctors are hard at work, as they have been throughout the years. His recent visits to the Eastern Cape gave him a platform to campaign indirectly while dishing out houses and title deeds left and right. He’s with the people, addresses formal and informal community gatherings and church meetings – all this makes him look like a person who listens to the poor, something many don’t get from Zuma. From Zuma they get promises. From Sexwale they get action.

“If there’s one thing about me that you should know … I never make promises I can’t keep. [Other] leaders make promises they cannot [fulfil],” he told residents in the Eastern Cape few days ago. He charmed chiefs and tribal heads who sang his praises, with Nkosi Mfundo Mtirara remarking: “As a traditional leader I want to say we support this man in Mangaung in December as the president of the ANC.”

Sexwale is not tainted much, and perhaps that’s why he is hated and not trusted so much inside the ANC than he is outside it. Unlike our current president, Sexwale is not exposed and his wealth make him less susceptible to corruption.

Our current president came into the seat very poor. The costs of his corruption and rape trials left him penniless, and his families living on handouts of friends, who now expect him to pay back.

But then with the lack of another option people end up looking up to Sexwale – not because they love him, but because they hate Zuma.

Sexwale will also have the support of his former colleagues in the business sector, which has never been as threatened as it was/is throughout Zuma’s presidency.

And since Zuma came in, issues of polarisation along cultural and racial line have made the news more than before. Sexwale is seen as a tolerant figure; his wife Judy is white, and he is regarded as a unifier. He also still has some support from the youth, who will definitely accept Anyone But Zuma. But this could be his downfall as well since they seem to have fallen out with many inside and outside the movement. Reports that Sexwale deposited R100 000 into Malema’s account doesn’t help.

Sexwale’s other downside could be that he is seen as someone who likes using his wealth to buy political and personal favours.

In the provinces, however, Sexwale can take many of those who see it as a risk to bank on Motlanthe, and those unhappy with Zuma, including those in his favourite hunting ground of the Eastern Cape which will send the second largest delegation to Mangaung. While KwaZulu-Natal remains Zuma’s stronghold, Sexwale has made headway in this province as well – he is deployed here full-time by the ANC. Sexwale is said to be holding secret meetings with some influential anti-Zuma leaders, dubbed the Mvela Group by the intelligence.

But Sexwale’s bubble could burst if Motlanthe announces his candidacy when nominations open in October, or before then.

Even if Motlanthe chickens out, Sexwale should know that the road to Mangaung is paved with bad intentions. The knives are out, Zuma and his clique are not sleeping.

The ANC NEC member No. 10 should know better than to think Mangaung, like Polokwane, will be a given walkover. And unlike the previous two attempts, he should avoid scoring own goals.

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    • Coenie Louw

      Well written, insightfull. Thanks. #ABZ please.

    • P. S. Msibi

      Agree wt u Louw. Vry much wel written n vry much insigthful. Big up Isaac.

    • Michelle

      An analysis no one dared to attempt before. Good read.

    • Madeleine du Toit

      I would have preferred Ramaphosa – remember him fondly ever since the Multi-Party Negotiations and his statesmanlike transactions with Roelf Meyer. But I have quite a soft spot for Tokyo too. And then, of course, ABZ!!! It would be so good to have a president who looks and acts like a president, doesn’t have a squalid past … and, unlike Mbeki, has the common touch as well.
      Sexwale is not perfect. For one thing, he’s very, very rich. (Though that is said to cut down on corruption.) For another, he’s a politician. All national leaders are, and few of them have Mandela’s saving graces. But oh yes, let our next president be President Sexwale. I’d vote for him if I could.

    • Mariano Castrillon

      So, in fact, people are now looking at Sexwale for the same wrong reasons that Zuma’s friends and assorted sycophants were looking at him. What we need is an intelligent, honest person with integrity who puts the interests of the country first. No tenderpreneurs, no massive corruption, just simple steering of the country’s rudder helped by the right ministers.

    • Francine

      Great and insightful read. So we wait for Mangaung!.

    • http://[email protected] nomzamo gumede

      Insightful article indeed.I love our democracy and as a young person I love all races in my country but I will tell you from having discussed this whole succession debacle that South africans especially the older black ones may no longer prefer Zuma but on the other hand they are not ready for a white first lady.Just relaying an opinion from the conversations I have been having,its narrow minded but there maybe millions of narrow minded people out there.

    • Peter


      Fair comment. Sadly, I’m not sure there are any in the ANC NEC who are genuinly up for the job. Tokyo sadly belongs to a crowd called Corporatocracy. He will govern within systems that support business to the exclusion of the poor. Having had the taste of “excessive profit” in his business dealings he now has other goals, wealth accumulation, which generally happens at the expense of the poor. He appears to be very successful at what he does, but will he reign in business greed if it hurt his own pocket.
      South Africa needs a genuine Statesman……..I don’t see any in the top eschelons who are up for the job. They all seem there to do exactly as the Nats did….line their own pockets…..why not, the Nats are now inside the ANC.
      I know you’re a journalist and are writing an article, however, you choice of words is exactly what is wrong with the power struggle. Words like WAR, DOG FIGHT, DICTATOR. Your words are not wrong, they are used in context, however in Africa politics is WAR and is never about a DEBATE etc,
      @Madeleine…..Wealth doesn’t cut down on corruption….there s many a true book which says it has the opposite effect……it gives power and enables it further, because greed know’s no bounds

    • nkopane

      Unfortunately most of us will not have a hand on who becomes an ANC president, effectively a
      South Africa’s president. The ordained few, 5000- 6000 delegates will seal our fate for sure. We hope they make their choice in the best interest of South Africa and not of self.

    • Thapelomothibi

      I’m happy for Mosima anytime

    • Thapelomothibi

      Copy and paste very little variance I wrote this on FB group “Khuluma Africa new political group” a month and half ago and it was well received.

    • http://live Sterling Ferguson

      @Issac, the ANC should have party primaries to let the people vote on who they want to lead the party.

    • Koos

      Tokyo will make Mugabe look like a Sunday school teacher.
      Be warn what you wish for.

    • manquat

      We need good leadership. It’s pivotal to the success or failure of our young, fragile democracy. Hopefully, Tokyo will rise to the occassion.
      We got a candidate who is an intellectual. But intellectuals can’t solve the problems of the poor.

    • MLH

      While ABZ must be the first consideration, it’s such a pity that the other runners mentioned seem like has-beens. With Sexwale comes Malema’s triumphal return and SA could well do without that! I cannot see how Sexwale can square that with his own business experience; or perhaps he just assumes he knows enough about the private sector to be the one to pull off nationalisation. That in itself is risky.
      Ramaphosa would also be my first choice, only because he’s not yet blotted his copybook. How terribly sad that less than 20 years on, there is such a dearth of leadership in the ANC.
      Motlanthe’s present silence will be read as an inability to speak out and Sisulu has done nothing in the armed forces to make us sit up and take notice.
      All the more reason for so many to be looking to the DA for inspiration.

    • Ace

      Good read indeed….I also thought along the same lines about Ramaphosa until I read this piece. Tokyo’s might have an edge…taking a Ministerial (housing) job is definately a calculated move from the word go. Just a pity he’s not as charasmatic…and is probably used to coming second best by now. Lol.

    • beachcomber

      The real question is – does he want the power or is he there for the people?

      So far he’s in it for the corporate power and status. I’m not holding my breath.

      When in doubt, follow the money.

      And -“He also has the business acumen of Mitt Romney” is no recommendation.

    • http://none Lyndall Beddy

      I don’t believe the people should ever chose a president – they can only know the persona not the person.

      My worry is the vote buying of the delegates. My advice to them is to take the offered bribes – and then vote according to conscience.


      Yes he was the premier of Gauteng, of which there is nothing sinister about his leadership style and how he managed the province. In his current job, it is not exposing him more on the limelight. But the worry is his closeness to the dismissed former president youth leaugue who has a bad track record on his political leadership. that dents his chances of attracting more supporters. Imagine malema when he was dismissing the British journalist, remember when he said any minister who does not tow the line, he will be sacked and never return to their cabinet posts. imagine disbanding PEC structures who do not agree with him. All of us let us draw the lessons from Zimbabwe and Swaziland. Let South Africans stand up and say BIG NO to autocratic leaders

    • chacho

      Tokyo strikes me as an attention-seeking showman with a well-rehearsed charismatic charm, but where is the substance?

      I would prefer someone like Joel Netshitenzhe – a deep intellectual, humble, unquestionable integrity, sober-minded, idealogue, strategic nous.

    • Mlandzeni

      An Intellectual? unless this word has changed its original meaning, Tokyo is anything but an intellectual!

    • Obzino Latino

      Sexwale or whoever, we just want to restore dignity in the office of the President – Zuma neva had any dignity and integrity. ZumGwede must go

    • Brian

      They need to re-inject back intelligensia,good moral standing and absalute excellent leadership back into the rulling party,enough with the “spearman”………….we need lethal thinkers to lead this country and i think Tokyo is the right candidate to head the party and subsequently S.A…..he’s a man with a clear mission and plan.

      Plus his background in Finance will go a long way towards economic improvement.

      Cannot wait for Manganung….

    • Ngelengele

      Towards Polokwane we were flooded with such analysis of Sexwale. There is nothing new here, always a dark horse that never wins. With all the american style of contesting elections Tokyo has esposed himself as a too desperate leader who’s leadership will do nothing to unite the current divisions in the party. The ANC is not blind to this even though junos will have us believe otherwise. He is no contest to the real super heavyweights, his level is that of Lindiwe. Even against her I would still put my money on Lindiwe than him. ANC is the different church than america’s democrats or republicans. You make your mark through structures not on TV, I thought he has learn that but I was wrong. Without Motlante, Mangaung will be a walk in the park for Zuma.

      Simply lesson, when everything fails ANC seeks to unite than divide, yet Tokyo is always seen to divide than unite.

    • http://live Sterling Ferguson

      @Beddy, I see you have let the cat out of the bag, you don’t believe in democracy. You are another one in SA that thinks the people are too stupid to make rational decision like the speaker of the ANC in parliament Mathole.

      @Kopane, I have a dream that one day the people in SA will rise up and demand that they be given a voice in the government and hold the officials accountable for their behavior. I have a dream that SA will not be ruled by kingmakers but, by the people of SA. I have a dream that tribe, color, gender and class will not be used to select a president but, the quality of that person.

    • Brian B

      The whole world id bereft of inspirational leaders. In difficult times people need to encouragement and reassurance.

      Tokyo has demonstrated that he is fearless and capable of speaking his mind. he is certainly one of the better candidates within the ANC.

      Can he cut through and dissolve the thick grimy layer of corruption , nepotism and sloth that is the ANC of today? Time will tell.

    • http://none Lyndall Beddy


      I certainly do NOT believe in the American system of a “pop idols” contest for president.

      I believe in the European/British Prime Minister system.

      Or is that not democratic according to you?

    • http://n/a Pinky

      when our presidential choices have come to this, then we really should be worried as a country, Tokyo failed as Human Settlements Minister, even the businesses he owns/co-owns there is zilch input from his side to make them what they are, he is just another anc tenderpreneur, but ABZ I’d go for that, as an immediate escape from Nkandla harem funded by tax payers, as it is, one of his many mistresses is pregnant, that means if he wins in Manguang he would be marrying her as well to our expense.

    • Anonymous

      I couldnt agree with you more Lyndall Beddy #

    • Ala

      Superb bit of analysis, excellent article, really insightful – thank you.

    • http://none Lyndall Beddy


      I suggest that Michelle Obama stand for president next time when Obama’s terms are over.

      This is how Americans evade the 2 term system – Hilary takes over from Bill Clinton, George Bush takes over from his father – and the Kennedys kept trying one son after the other.