While delivering the OR Tambo memorial lecture at ANC's Peter Mokaba region in Botlokwa, outside Polokwane, on Saturday, Mantashe said the conference presents an opportunity to eliminate greed and corruption within the ANC.
"This conference is about choice between life and death of the ANC. It is about prosperity and disaster for the ANC; and therefore, when you select leadership, it should not be because of love you were bought... It should be about which leaders are fit for this phase of our struggle," said Mantashe.
The secretary general said, "the last time we had a president from Limpopo was in 1917, Sefako Makgatho. Since then, we [have] never had [a] president from this province."
Mantashe said Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa's nomination would change history.
He said there is no clear explanation as to why Ramaphosa should not succeed Zuma.
Ramaphosa is facing his biggest contender in the battle for ANC leadership, former AU leader Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma.'
However, some see Dlamini-Zuma's campaign as a bid to retain Zuma's legacy, which involves allegations of corruption and state capture.
Her backers believe it's time for women to lead the organisation that has never had a female president.
Mantashe also used the lecture to outlined leaders whose leadership was allegedly compromised due to failure to adhere to the party's traditions.
"When comrade Thabo Mbeki resisted in handing over the baton to Jacob Zuma, there was a crisis."
"If there is resistance today of President Jacob Zuma handing over the baton to a sitting deputy president, we are sowing the wind, and when we sow the wind, we are going to reap the whirlwind," said Mantashe.
He also warned the delegates who will be attending the highly anticipated December conference to guard against the ongoing tendency of abandoning party policy, and instead focusing on preferred candidates.
He said that new crop of leaders should draw lessons from OR Tambo.
He said the resistance against Ramaphosa could bring the ruling party to its knees.
"We cannot destroy the ANC out of greed and corruption," he said. -- News24