2 March 2018

South Africa: Analysis - What Mantashe's Thesis Says About the New Mineral Resources Minister


Gwede Mantashe inherited the mineral resources portfolio from Mosebenzi Zwane, meaning it's beset by challenges. The former ANC secretary-general's Wits Master's thesis provides some insight into his possible approach.

Gwede Mantashe knows mining. Unfortunately, he doesn't write the way he speaks. He went from a well-known union leader to a universally known figure in 2007 when he was elected secretary-general of the ANC. His gruff approach and use of metaphors became synonymous with former President Jacob Zuma's ANC.

His thesis would be a lot more exciting if his spoken language appeared on the page.

Mantashe wrote "The Decline of the Mining Industry and the Response of the Mining Unions" at Wits while he was serving as ANC SG, after leading the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) for almost ten years. At party press conferences, he has said he was a mineworker at heart, but his thesis gives an insight into how he will lead as minister of mineral resources.

The thesis looked at three mining unions, the NUM, United Associations of South Africa (UASA), and Solidarity and their influence and membership in a period of industry decline - 1995-2005. He interrogated the "glaring omission" of academic studies...

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