David Mabuza absent from Cabinet lekgotla due to family bereavement, says his office

Deputy President David Mabuza.
Deputy President David Mabuza.
Alfonso Nqunjana
  • President Cyril Ramaphosa is hosting a two-day lekgotla in Pretoria on Thursday and Friday.
  • The lekgotla is intended to discuss crucial matters, which include issues affecting Eskom, the economy and the government's plans for the year ahead.
  • Visibly absent from the gathering was Ramaphosa's deputy, David Mabuza, who sent an apology, according to Minister in the Presidency Mondli Gungubele.

Deputy President David Mabuza, who oversees government business, is absent from a two-day Cabinet lekgotla chaired by President Cyril Ramaphosa.

Mabuza sent an apology to Ramaphosa, stating that he was unable to attend the government gathering, according to Minister in the Presidency Mondli Gungubele.

Gungubele said on Thursday that Mabuza remained the deputy president, and his absence at the lekgotla was not "news".

No reasons were given for why Mabuza was not in attendance at a vital government gathering, which was intended to map out government's strategy for the year ahead, especially as the country battled persistent load shedding.

The lekgotla is being attended by government bureaucrats, including premiers and ministers, and is vital for government planning.

Gungubele spoke to journalists on the sidelines of the Cabinet lekgotla at the presidential guesthouse in Pretoria.

He said:

We have an incumbent deputy president. All I can say is that he (Mabuza) is not there. He (Ramaphosa) has a duty to fill those empty departments where there are acting positions.

Ramaphosa chaired the meeting with an empty chair next to him, which should have been occupied by his deputy. Mabuza was also not present at an ANC national executive committee lekgotla over the weekend.

However, in a statement on Thursday, Mabuza's office said he was not at the Cabinet lekgotla because of a family bereavement.

"The Deputy President lost his brother and is engaged with preparations for the funeral," read the short statement.

News24 reported earlier that Mabuza had informed Ramaphosa of his intention to resign as the country's second in command. This followed a power shift in the ANC when Paul Mashatile was elected ANC deputy president at the party's national conference in December.

For the past few weeks, the ANC has been making changes to its party lists for Parliament, with two MPs resigning. On Wednesday, a letter emerged from Parliament confirming that Mashatile was now an ANC MP. It's unclear when he will be sworn in, but his elevation brings him closer to being appointed Ramaphosa's deputy.

READ | Parks Tau replaced as Gauteng legislature finance chair amid imminent Cabinet reshuffle

It is still unclear when the Cabinet reshuffle, which Ramaphosa and the ANC have hinted at, will take place.

There are vacancies in Ramaphosa's executive – including the Department of Public Administration. Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula will also have to be removed from this position after being elected ANC secretary-general, which is a full-time job based at Luthuli House.

When questioned about why ministers who would likely not continue to serve in the Cabinet were allowed to participate at the lekgotla, Gungubele said a Cabinet reshuffle could not prevent government business from continuing.

He said:

The plans adopted here don't belong to a particular minister. Government plans are ongoing.

"What we adopt here is a government plan and not one that belongs to any minister," Gungubele added.

The Cabinet lekgotla was being held to deal with various issues, including the energy crisis, unemployment, the economy and other socioeconomic issues.

Gungubele said the meeting would also assess progress made in the past four years. The lekgotla is expected to conclude on Friday.

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