NEWS
26/02/2018 11:08 SAST | Updated 26/02/2018 11:08 SAST

Mabuza 'Not Keen' On Being Deputy President

The controversial Mpumalanga premier has been touted to replace Ramaphosa as the country's second-in-charge, but this is not necessarily what he wants.

Siphiwe Sibeko / Reuters

With President Cyril Ramaphosa expected to announce his Cabinet reshuffle early this week, speculation is rife over whether this will include his deputy in the African National Congress, David "DD" Mabuza, as deputy president of South Africa.

The controversial Mpumalanga premier has been touted to replace Ramaphosa as the country's second-in-charge, but this is not necessarily what Mabuza wants.

News24 understands that Mabuza would prefer to finish his term as premier, but is being pushed by the Mpumalanga African National Congress to enter the national stage. Some want him to leave the province so that they can "start afresh".

Ramaphosa's elevation to head of state left a vacancy for deputy president. The president is expected to announce changes to his Cabinet early this week that will include a new deputy president. Ramaphosa is said to prefer a woman candidate.

The names of ministers Naledi Pandor and Lindiwe Sisulu, as well as the speaker Baleka Mbete, have been touted as possible candidates. Another wild card name that has been mentioned is that of Paul Mashatile, the Gauteng ANC leader and treasurer-general of the ANC.

Quagmire

Traditionally, the ANC deputy president becomes number two of the country.

"DD needs to tell the officials what he wants," one senior party member told News24.

The source said the party's deputy president was caught in a quagmire as he did not want to ascend to that office yet, but his province had been vigorously campaigning for him to do so.

The ANC insider said Mabuza did not want to be seen to defy the wishes of his province, said to want to start a new life without Mabuza, who has had a firm grip over Mpumalanga since 2008.

Another National Executive Committee member told News24 it was a delicate situation but that he expected Mabuza to be announced as deputy president of the country on Monday or Tuesday following a scheduled meeting of the ANC's top six officials at the party's Luthuli House headquarters.

The NEC member admitted that the matter was "tricky", as some of Mabuza's "skeletons" might be brought to the surface if he is promoted.

"I don't believe there is a warrant of arrest in his name, but that stuff with [the 2010 Mbombela Stadium tender] might just come back," noted a source in the governing party.

Mabuza, dubbed by some as "the cat", is perceived by some in the ANC as a dirty politician who has ruled Mpumalanga with an iron fist.

Unity leader

Over the past decade, he has been linked to criminal activities in the province, but has never been arrested or charged. The allegations mainly involve the awarding of multi-million rand tenders to construct a soccer stadium ahead of the 2010 Soccer World Cup.

A dossier, purportedly written by a Mozambican criminal who implicates Mabuza in a range of criminal activities, recently resurfaced on social media.

Mabuza used the build-up to the ANC's watershed national elective conference at Nasrec to reposition himself as a unity leader who is trying to rebuild and clean up the ANC, for the good of the country.

NEC members confirmed Ramaphosa's looming Cabinet reshuffle did not come up at their meeting on Sunday, but he was expected to make an announcement on Monday or Tuesday.

"It could be anytime from Monday afternoon going forward," one NEC member said.

Ramaphosa's new-look Cabinet will exclude former KwaZulu-Natal premier Senzo Mchunu, who campaigned vigorously for the country's then deputy president to take over from former president Jacob Zuma.

The ANC confirmed on Sunday that Mchunu would be a full-time employee of Luthuli House, in charge of organisation with former North West ANC secretary Dakota Legoete.

Former ANC spokesperson Zizi Kodwa was promoted to head-up Ramaphosa's office in the party's office.

News24