A double ANC Minister tells it like it is about Education, Science and Technology

It is exceptionally rare to find an ANC Tri-Partite insider who is prepared to talk openly about his successes but also his misgivings about routes taken and decisions made while in exceptionally powerful Ministerial jobs during his tenure in an ANC Government.

Minister Mosibudi Mangena was that open and transparent during my interview with him on “Contemporary Business” on Radio Today. The podcast of the full interview can be found at :


He has just published his fifth book “Triumphs and Heartaches” and I honestly believe it should be compulsory reading in our schools and Universities.

What I enjoyed about our discussion were three distinct components. The first was his admission that while serving as Deputy Minister of Education under Kader Asmal, they realised that a lot had to be done for the now 500 000 teachers in this country in-terms of the development of their own literacy and numeracy skills and then their ability to teach those skills to our youth. But, and this is the “Mbeki” thing, they did not do anything close to what was required to address this problem. They seem to have taken the “Ostrich” approach to governing. With regard to these teachers he decries the strength of Unions in Education because he believes that it is this sense of excessive empowerment, which has caused massive amounts of resistance to change, resistance to having their skills upgraded, to acknowledging that they may be part of the education problem in this country.

We discussed the positive influence that Zimbabwean Teachers have made on the SA Schooling System, and he openly said he wished that they, the Zimbabwean Teachers had been more formally drawn into our system than they were.

During our interview he candidly admitted that he had sent his own children to Zimbabwe for schooling rather than having them schooled in SA because the Zimbabwean System, in his opinion is far more advanced and of a completely different quality.

The second component of our discussion related to his role as Minister of Science and Technology. Minister Mangena spear-headed a number of initiatives in this arena including the SKA project but what struck me most from this interview was how adamant he was that South Africa is regressing, going backwards when it comes to Science and Technology.

His concern is that we are simply not investing sufficiently in Science, Technology and importantly in research to do this country justice, and to remain a meaningful player and thought leader on either the African continent or within the extended Global Community. If ever there was an indictment of current Government thinking, strategic planning and implementation, this was it. This is possibly why we seem to have very few answers when it comes to the power challenges we face in this country, why there seems to be so little innovation taking place, specifically within the manufacturing sector and why when it comes to Health South Africa continues to be a slave to foreign patent law and the flow into this country of medicines from elsewhere.

Finally we had a discussion on his leadership role of AZAPO (the Azanian Peoples Organisation). South Africa’s “Black Pride”, often militant and seemingly racist movement.

Minister Mangena openly talks about this organisation in his book “Triumphs and Heartaches” and his passion for Black assertion politics clearly comes through in this interview. He is adamant that what we obviously need in South Africa is a “White Pride” movement free to openly engage with it’s Black counterparts in debate, discussion, disagreement and hopefully in some cases reaching much needed consensus.

The Minister defends a Black Consciousness movement as critical for the progress of this country on the basis that it’s role is to overturn the notion that Blacks are inferior and Whites are superior. When challenged that this is clearly a racist anti-White mindset, Mangena asserts that it is not and therefore that there is space academically and also politically in South Africa for a White Consciousness movement to counter and engage on such a drive towards Black emancipation.

In my opinion Minister Mangena is the real deal. He is skilled, experienced, sometimes diplomatic but always assertive and articulate. I don’t agree with him on the AZAPO issue and think that he is openly hostile and racist when it comes to his views and statements about White people, but refreshingly, unlike some of his current Napoleonic counterparts, he is the kind of person it would be a pleasure to engage publicly with. The kind of person who doesn’t project the kind of aura that if you disagree with him he will have you killed, which is the aura projected by a number of Ministers in the current cabinet.

One has to question why such a vibrant, skilled and competent individual who clearly has this country and the majority of citizens of this country at-heart, would have exited Government. There is no doubt in my mind that someone of his ilk is unwelcome in the current vipers nest of the NEC and therefore has been prevented by others with clear vested interests from serving this country properly.

If individuals with clearly shady histories have been returned to cabinet, why has Mangena been left out in the cold?