27/02/2018 12:05 SAST | Updated 27/02/2018 12:05 SAST

The Cat's Out The Bag: Who Is Deputy President David Mabuza?

Mabuza, nicknamed 'The Cat', is a master of political shenanigans and an astute power broker who trails along a dark shadow of controversy and scandal.

President Cyril Ramaphosa and his soon-to-be deputy, David Mabuza.
Bloomberg via Getty Images
President Cyril Ramaphosa and his soon-to-be deputy, David Mabuza.

Mpumalanga premier and ANC deputy president David Mabuza will on Tuesday be sworn in as a member of Parliament to pave the way for his entrance into the Union Buildings.

When he announced his changes to his administration on Monday evening, President Cyril Ramaphosa said Mabuza will be appointed deputy president of South Africa.

Mabuza, nicknamed "The Cat", is a grand master of political shenanigans and an astute power broker who trails along a dark shadow of controversy and scandal.

Who is the new deputy president?

The 57-year-old has paid his dues in the ANC and has served in numerous roles as he climbed his way to the top. He served as a regional chairperson for the ANC between 1994 and 1998 and became a member of the Mpumalanga legislature in 1999 and an MP two years later. He was elected leader of government business in the Mpumalanga provincial legislature in 2007 and, in the same year, was voted onto the ANC's national executive committee (NEC).

READ: David Mabuza - The Master Political Entrepreneur

His ascent to the political helm of the province started when he was elected deputy chairperson of the ANC in Mpumalanga in 2005 and he became the chairperson in 2008. When Jacob Zuma became president in 2009, Mabuza got a promotion to premier — a position he will only now have to forfeit.

Mabuza is a master political strategist — the extent of his proficiency coming to the fore in the lead-up to the ANC's national conference in December last year. Mabuza, over a very brief period, ballooned Mpumalanga's ANC support base which granted him control over the second largest voting delegation at the conference, making him a key power broker for those who wanted the ANC's top spot.

It is widely believed that Ramaphosa's slim victory over Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma was owed to Mabuza and his "unity candidates".

Siphiwe Sibeko / Reuters
President of the ANC Cyril Ramaphosa and his deputy David Mabuza (L) wave to supporters ahead of the ANC's 106th anniversary celebrations in East London, South Africa, January 13, 2018. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko

All the scandals that follow — none of which has stuck:

A year into his premiership, in 2010, R14-million in cash was said to have been stolen from Mabuza's Barberton farmhouse. It was later reported that the Mabuza only reported R4-million stolen — so as not to raise too many eyebrows. The investigation went nowhere.

READ: The 5 Ghosts Of Mabuza's Past.

Last year, Mabuza's long-time enemy and predecessor, Mathews Phosa, said in an interview with eNCA that Mabuza was using a "private army" to intimidate ANC members in the province opposed to his "unity" campaign. This came after a video surfaced of a group of men, some wearing caps with a camouflage motif, dancing outside a house. At least three men pulled out firearms and fired multiple shots into the air, while they were in a crowd that included children.

Mabuza's detractors have also accused him of being behind several political killings in his province. Among those murdered was Mbombela speaker Jimmy Mohlala, who was killed in 2009. He blew the whistle on massive tender corruption surrounding a stadium built for the 2010 FIFA Soccer World Cup. James Nkambule was also poisoned for claiming politicians were behind the assassinations.

READ: David Mabuza's Biggest Dilemma Is His Crisis Of Credibility.

In 2015, Mabuza was allegedly poisoned and was forced to take two months' leave. In this time, he travelled to Russia for treatment and hitched a ride back to the country with the Guptas on their private jet.

Mabuza has allegedly been behind the awarding of many dodgy tenders to friends and family in his tenure. For example, in 2008, Sizwangendaba Investment, a company owned by Mabuza's friend and former business partner, was awarded a multimillion-rand tender to provide agricultural appliances to farmers in the province.