Mathews Phosa: Speak out against corruption and state capture
On December 20, the ANC will conclude its national elective conference by electing its 14th president in its 105 years of existence. There are eight potential candidates to replace President Jacob Zuma and while some of them will take the race down to the wire, others are rank outsiders. Independent Media’s political team will profile each of the candidates, in no particular order, in the run-up. This week we profile, Mathews Phosa.
Mathews Phosa was born in Mpumalanga in 1952. He is an attorney and politician and was a prominent anti-apartheid activist.
Phosa was one of the first four members of the ANC to enter South Africa from exile in 1990 to start the process of negotiation with the National Party government.
He later became the premier of his home province, Mpumalanga, as well as a member of the ANC national executive committee (1999).
While in office, Phosa pioneered planning sessions between the private sector and the government.
He led Nelson Mandela’s reconciliation initiatives between the government and the Afrikaans-speaking community.
Phosa speaks nine languages and is fluent in Afrikaans.
In the year he was elected to the NEC, he published a volume of poetry called Deur die oog van ’n naald (Through the eye of a needle).
Phosa and his wife, Pinky (Yvonne), have been married for 40 years and have three children.
Her academic and public service career is impressive. Originally a social worker, she has a Master’s degree in public administration and served as MEC for finance (2009-2013) and for economic development, environment and tourism from February 2013. She was also the Speaker of the Mpumalanga legislature from 2004 to 2009.
Phosa has called for the removal of all ANC leaders with ties to the Gupta family, saying there was a need to sweep out the current leadership “together with their Saxonworld puppet masters”.
He has called for the election of new and honourable leaders with no ties to those “who want to sell South Africa to the highest bidder”.
On the campaign trail, he told supporters that if he should win he would restore the ANC’s moral leadership, revive the state of branches, return economic stability to the country and root out corruption.
He has claimed to be the first South African to call on President Jacob Zuma to step down and has been highly critical of the president over Nkandla.
He has accused the other candidates in the campaign race of not speaking out against state capture and corruption.
Radical economic transformation
In July, Phosa said the phrase “radical economic transformation” was paid for by the Guptas and London public relations firm Bell Pottinger. He said there was no such thing.
Phosa said he believed an apartheid economy should not be replaced by an economy in which corrupt politicians and their families colluded with illegal immigrants to loot the country’s resources.
He is opposed to the revised Mining Charter.
Phosa has a clean record – free of corruption scandals.
In 2001, Cyril Ramaphosa, Tokyo Sexwale and Phosa were investigated in connection with an alleged plot to oust former president Thabo Mbeki.
Sexwale, Phosa and Ramaphosa all held high office in the ANC and at the time were spearheading black economic empowerment initiatives in the country.
Safety and Security Minister at the time, Steve Tshwete, accused the trio of being part of a conspiracy aimed at undermining the presidency.
Tshwete said the matter was investigated with the roles of Sexwale, Phosa and Ramaphosa specifically probed by state intelligence agencies.
Mbeki, in a live television interview, alluded to the plot by criticising overly ambitious ANC members.
Sexwale, Phosa and Ramaphosa were cleared.
Phosa’s role in previous elective conferences
During the 2007 ANC national conference, the 52nd, in Polokwane, Limpopo, Phosa was elected treasurer-general.
At Mangaung in 2012, Phosa ran for the post of ANC deputy president.
Ramaphosa received 3 018 votes and was elected deputy president, defeating Phosa, who received 470, and Human Settlements Minister Tokyo Sexwale, who was close behind and received 463.