• Gwede Mantashe was the first trade unionist appointed to the board of a major South African company.
  • Former Eskom executive Matshela Koko drew his daughter Mbasa into corruption allegations
  • He is big on reputation and duty.

The mining industry couldn't be rid of former minerals minister Mosebenzi Zwane quickly enough. His successor, Gwede Mantashe, was warmly welcomed.

But Mantashe is a complex character, with a history that suggests mining companies may be in for a couple of surprises.

If he doesn't cut it, he may not be around for long. "If we can’t do the right thing‚ we must offer to resign," he said at a ceremony earlier this year.


He started his career as a coal miner, which is how he got into politics.


He was the first trade unionist ever to be appointed to the board of a major South African company in 1995.

"The implications are clear — for the first time — labour has access to decision making structures and can influence changes before they reach the implementation stage," he said at the time.


While under fire over allegations of favouring his daughter, then Eskom executive Matshela Koko told a disciplinary hearing that Mantashe's daughter Mbasa had been a beneficiary of corruption in the construction of the massive Kusile power station.

Mantashe responded that “Matshela Koko serves himself and he has a certain agenda to promote."


After years of defending his party against allegations of corruption, Mantashe started 2017 with a bang when he declared that the ANC is at risk of thieves – of which he said the party had no shortage.


When his son came of age, Mantashe told him: "You must make sure that you keep your home safe and look after your community as a responsible man in society. Your must never bring the family name into disrepute.”

See also: