Mathews Phosa: ‘We must rebel against corruption’

November 30, 2017

NAME: Mathews Phosa

AGE: 65

IN GOVERNMENT: Mathews Phosa is an attorney by profession and was an anti-apartheid activist. He was one of the first four members of the ANC to enter South Africa from exile in 1990 to start the negotiation process with the National Party. He has also been appointed to various business boards, and has published a book of Afrikaans poetry. In 1994 he was the first democratically-elected premier of Mpumalanga where he served for one term, and is a long-standing member of the ANC’s National Executive Committee. He has held an ANC top 6 position before, elected treasurer general between 2007 and 2012.

UPSIDE: Phosa was one of the first high-ranking ANC members to call out corruption engulfing the party under President Jacob Zuma. He has been honest about the party’s lack of strong leadership, and hasn’t shied away from highlighting the ANC’s deep moral deficiencies, and its need for renewal.

DOWNSIDE: Phosa served in the ANC’s top 6 under Zuma during his first term as party president, and cannot claim outsider status. He was one of the people who campaigned for Zuma to take over from then president Thabo Mbeki in 2007.

He has also not held a government position since his tenure as Mpumalanga premier and has been away from the public eye for the last five years since leaving the top 6 in 2012.

His campaign has been lackluster and lost steam early on. He is not expected to get any provincial nominations. Even in his home province of Mpumalanga, the battle is between front runners Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma and Cyril Ramaphosa.

SLATE: Phosa has not been associated with any informal slates, and it is unclear who his preferred running mates would be. He has, however, taken a strong stance on leadership, saying in May:

“I would like you to surround me with very strong leaders who are not corrupt, who believe in the Freedom Charter, who believe in our Constitution, who believe in one nation, who believe in reconciling our people, who believe in defining ourselves not at the standard of the enemy but at the standard of the responsible South Africans both black and white.”

Phosa has been campaigning since the beginning of 2017 and was publicly endorsed for president in April by Ward 52 in Langa in the Western Cape. His campaign leader is Andile Lili of the Ses’khona People’s Movement.

ON CORRUPTION: “The people of this country must rebel against corruption. If I am elected president, I will throw them in jail.”

ON THE GUPTAS: Phosa has been critical of the controversial Gupta family that Zuma has referred to as his friends.

“The Guptas steal every day and nothing happens. When President Zuma is asked about the activities of the Guptas, he says we must go and ask them. Who is the president?”

ON RET: “Let me start with that phrase that the Guptas paid for and that Bell Pottinger cynically created: radical economic transformation. There is no such thing as radical economic transformation. Many countries and politicians have tried to change the natural dynamics of the economy, all of them have failed.”

(Photo credit: Gallo Images / Beeld / Theana Breugem)