Deputy President David Mabuza on Wednesday refused to take responsibility for Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma’s loss to President Cyril Ramaphosa. Mabuza, who is expected to receive a hostile reception from supporters at the ANC manifesto launch, was speaking for the first time about his kingmaker role in the ANC’s presidential race. His 11th-hour decision to back Ramaphosa in the ANC elective conference in 2017 contributed to Dlamini-Zuma’s loss, but he denied betraying her.“I mean, I don’t imagine how in a conference of more than 5 000 people you think I know how all of these people voted? It’s impossible. I only preached for unity and what prevailed is unity,” he said, responding to journalists’ questions on the matter during his visit to Howick to drum up ANC support ahead of the manifesto launch on Saturday.A former Mpumalanga premier, Mabuza angered Dlamini-Zuma supporters who still have major influence in KZN, after instructing 233 Mpumalanga province branch delegates loyal to him to throw their weight behind Ramaphosa.Ramaphosa beat Dlamini-Zuma by 179 votes at the hotly-contested ANC national conference. The aftermath of Ramaphosa’s win is still felt in KZN today, with some Dlamini-Zuma supporters yet to embrace him.At the time of the conference, Dlamini-Zuma’s staunchest supporter, Bathabile Dlamini, who is also the minister of Women and Children, accused Mabuza of using Dlamini-Zuma to secure his own political future. However, Mabuza said it would have been impossible for him to have single-handedly influenced the outcome of the ANC elective conference, saying he merely emphasised the importance of party unity.“That means the branch delegates heard my voice, heard my story to say it looks like this person is making sense because if we did not go the way we went, we would probably be talking about the ANC who is limping,” he said.Mabuza visited the homes of some of Siphumelele township’s impoverished families, who told him about their daily hardships.Thembi Mncube (70), who has been on the government housing waiting list for 19 years, told Mabuza that she lives in constant fear that her shack will be swept away by water in the current rainy season. “I have been to several government departments seeking help but 19 years later I still have not received any assistance. I’m concerned that I will die before getting a proper house,” she said.Mabuza, who later addressed a community meeting in the area, instructed local councillors to ensure that Mncube received a decent house.“I will be back before the end of February and when I come back I want to see progress in this matter,” he said.The deputy president, who was accompanied by other ANC leaders, including the party’s provincial deputy chairperson Mike Mabuyakhulu and Moses Mabhida Region convener Thulani Xulu, is in the province as part of the ANC’s preparations for its manifesto launch.Mabuza’s visit to KZN takes place against the backdrop of rumours that he was considering stepping down as the country’s deputy president amid mounting pressure from Dlamini-Zuma supporters — who also back former president Jacob Zuma — that he should be dropped as the country’s number two.Other ANC leaders, including National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete, have been touted as possible replacements for Mabuza.Ramaphosa is currently on a drive to charm Zuma, who ANC leaders believe could play a key role in ensuring the party’s victory in the upcoming elections.