Who could be in line to replace Mabuza?

Matuma Letsoalo

Deputy president David Mabuza’s decision to delay his swearing in as a Member of Parliament on Wednesday has sparked speculations on a possible candidate to replace him as South Africa’s second most powerful politician. 

The ANC released a statement signed by party leader Cyril Ramaphosa on Wednesday, saying the ANC’s top six officials had received and agreed to a request by Mabuza to postpone his swearing in as an MP.

“The Deputy President made the request in light of a report by the ANC Integrity Commission, in which he is alleged to have prejudiced the integrity of the ANC and brought the organisation into disrepute”.

The integrity commission’s recommendation followed damning corruption allegations published by the New York Times last year, including claims that Mabuza, during his time as MEC for Education in Mpumalanga, siphoned cash from schools for his personal benefit.

Chairperson of the ANC’s Integrity Commission, George Mashamba, told Inside Politic on Wednesday the commission would meet Mabuza in few days’ time from now. 

However, Mashamba refused to divulge details of the commission’s report to the ANC’s national executive committee, which recommended that Mabuza, ANC chairperson Gwede Mantashe, ANC Women’s League president Bathabile Dlamini, Environmental Affairs Minister Nomvula Mokonyane and former Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba be removed from the ANC’s list of public representatives. Gigaba and Mokonyane withdrew their names from the ANC parliamentary list.

“We will meet him [Mabuza] between Monday and Tuesday. We will be meeting all [those who are implicated in corruption allegations] from Sunday to Tuesday,” said Mashamba.

ANC and government insiders have told Inside Politic Mabuza has made it clear that if he’s not returning to government, he would prefer Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma to replace him as Ramaphosa’s deputy. 

While Ramaphosa previously stated he preferred Higher Education Minister Naledi Pandor as his deputy, others within the ANC say International Relations Minister Lindiwe Sisulu would be a suitable candidate for the position of deputy president. ANC treasurer Paul Mashatile has also emerged as a possible candidate for the country’s Number 2.

Mabuza was not available for comment, but an ANC NEC member who spoke to Inside Politic on condition of anonymity said the Integrity Commission would find it difficult to substantiate the allegations made against the ANC deputy president.

“It will be very difficult for the Integrity Commission to substantiate the allegations against the DP. They [Integrity Commission] rely on newspapers. To my knowledge, I don’t know of any court judgment against the deputy president. No parliamentary committee has recommended anything against him. You can’t depend on newspapers. The New York Times is not a court of law. I am not saying he [Mabuza] is not a crook. All I am saying is that he deserves a platform to answer for himself,” said the NEC member.

Another NEC member praised Mabuza saying his decision would go a long way in restoring the integrity of the ANC. 

“Its a good decision and exemplary. Gwede Mantashe should have done the same, but he and  21 others implicated in the Commission’s report say they can’t step aside because there was no due process followed by the Integrity Commission. They say they were never called in by the Commission. But those who were sworn in today, will be forced to resign if the integrity commission’s final investigation finds they did something wrong,” said the second NEC member.

He said Ramaphosa has reiterated his commitment during the special NEC meeting to appoint capable individuals who would be able to account to the public ahead of the 2021 local government elections.

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