UPDATED: ‘The unauthorised biography of Herman Mashaba’ launched at Wits 

Prince Mashele’s latest book focuses South African citizens’ gaze on their next political leader 

UPDATE: On Monday May 22, Jonathan Ball Publishers withdrew The Outsider from retailers, effectively pulling the book from shelves. The publishers of the supposed “unauthorised” biography, did so in reaction to allegations made by Brutus Malada, ActionSA member and a researcher on the book project, that a sum of R12,5 million was paid to the author, Prince Mashele by the book’s subject, Herman Mashaba.

In a statement, Jonathan Ball publishers said they were “left with no option but to withdraw The Outsider from the market” as they see Mashaba’s involvement as “a material non-disclosure…and as a breach of trust.”

Mashele has since appeared in a number of broadcast interviews, attempting but failing to dispute the allegations. His utterances include pointing the finger at the publishers for the book’s title, calling the payment a loan and routinely and inconsistently citing ‘binding contracts’ when asked relevant questions.


Former Johannesburg Mayor, Herman Mashaba visited the Wits Business School to help launch the book, ‘The Outsider’ written by well-known political analyst and author Prince Mashele. The launch took place at the Donald Gordan Hall earlier this week.   

The book follows the personal, financial and political life of Mashaba, from his development as an entrepreneur to the formation of his own political party, ActionSA. 

This is the second book written by Mashele, the first being, The Fall of the ANC, What Next? , which outlined the problems and failures that currently plague the ANC’s leadership.  Mashele explained that he wrote his latest book because he felt he had not answered the question of who is next to lead South Africa – but he realised that maybe the answer lies outside of the ANC. 

Mashele identified a global trend of non-politicians entering politics, “outsiders”, using examples such as the banker Emmanuel Macron in France and Donald Trump in the United States of America. In South Africa’s case, Mashele pustulates in his book that Mashaba is one such outsider.  

The former mayor was primarily a businessman, having founded the successful company, Black Like Me in 1985 at the height of apartheid. Mashaba joined the DA after losing faith in the ANC and became mayor of Johannesburg as representative of the DA in 2016. He resigned from the party in 2019, after disagreements with other members. It is after this experience that he formed Action SA in 2020.

The fall of the ANC, according to Prince Mashele, began with the election of Jacob Zuma as president in 2009. Since then, support for the party has waned, as the country battles with corruption, load shedding and unemployment. After losing control of Tshwane, Johannesburg and Nelson Mandela Bay in 2016, coalition governments took over which caused further chaos as disagreements between parties arose. Mashaba was one of few mayors to successfully balance the interests of the coalition in Johannesburg between the EFF and the DA.   

However, instead of solely focusing on the contents of the book, the audience members shifted the focus of the panel to the shaky political landscape field of South Africa, questioning Mashaba on what he will bring to the table if he becomes the next president.  

Not all impressions of the book were positive. Professor Themba Maseko another panelist, said that the book “does not give the reader [Herman Mashaba’s] vision for the future” adding, “I now know what the problems are but not the solutions.”  

The audience further emphasised this critique, asking Mashaba to provide specific points of action that he would take to improve the country’s political and economic situation. Mashaba ambiguously responded by saying, “watch this space.” 

Mashaba told Wits Vuvuzela that young readers of the book can learn “personal responsibility and independence” from his career as a businessman and as a politician. “I have been invited to speak at many business schools over the years and I say the same thing; don’t tell me about role models. If Herman Mashaba is my role model, others will follow.” Mashaba encourages young people to take charge of their own lives and work to being their own role models.

The biography was written without any input from Mashaba himself. Aside from the facts, Mashele had full artistic license with the text. This is why he calls it an “unauthorized biography.” Nicole Duncan, one of the book’s editors from Jonathan Ball Publishers, said that the editors did their best to “keep Prince’s voice Prince’s voice.”  

FEATURED IMAGE: The discussion panel for the book launch of The Outsider held at the Donald Gordon Hall at Wits Business School on Tuesday, May 9. From left to right: Professor Themba Maseko, Herman Mashaba, Prince Mashele, Stephen Grootes. Photo: Kimberley Kersten.


Race still matters 20 years on, even at South African universities

HEAVY THOUGHTS:  The Wits Transformation Office held a round table discussion on race which stirred a debate amongst the audience.   Photo: Lameez Omarjee

HEAVY THOUGHTS: The Wits Transformation Office held a round table discussion on race which stirred up a heated debate amongst the audience.
Photo: Lameez Omarjee

By Robyn Kirk and Lameez Omarjee

Race continues to be an issue in South Africa, even in the apparently transformed halls of higher education.

This was the predominant view of the audience at the Wits Transformation Office roundtable discussion on campus earlier today. The discussion looked at the relevance of race in the 20 year old democracy of South Africa but focused on the issue of transformation in higher education.

The Wits Transformation Office maintains that Wits University has transformed in terms of both race and gender over the last 20 years. But speakers at the discussion felt otherwise.

Athi-Nangamso Nkopo, a Master’s student in Political Science and founder of the Feminist Forum said that “although Wits University has improved in the racial representation of students enrolled, not enough systems are in place to ensure non-white students succeed and graduate. She argued that “in higher education, not enough is being done for women to advance,”  and added that the improvements on campus are not an accurate representation of the demographics of the country.
Michlene Mongae, the Secretary General of the Wits SRC (Students Representatives Council), pointed out that within the space of the university different racial groups tolerated one another, however this was not the case within private spaces such as at home or with friends. She also indicated that actively trying to look beyond race clearly shows that race still matters.
Mongae argued that in the past, white students were the most politically active on campus and over 20 years, black students have become the more politically dominant group on campus. “White students do not protest because they do not have to,” responded Mashele.

The comment sparked interest from the audience, where one audience member noting that the lack of white students at a discussion about race is an indication of the aparthy towards the issue.