Mabuza ready to step aside for Mashatile to serve as country's deputy president

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David Mabuza.
David Mabuza.
  • David Mabuza is ready to make way for Paul Mashatile to be the country's deputy president.
  • Mabuza's office confirmed that he told President Cyril Ramaphosa of his intention to resign.
  • Mashatile will have to be sworn in as an MP before becoming deputy president.

Deputy President David Mabuza has informed President Cyril Ramaphosa of his intention to resign. 

Mabuza cited the "importance of aligning party leadership roles with government responsibilities" as part of his motivating factor to step aside for newly elected ANC deputy president Paul Mashatile. 

News24 understands that Mabuza also cited his health issues, which led him to seek medical attention in Russia, as another consideration.

As such, in the best interests of the party, he will allow Mashatile to take over. 

Following engagements with President Cyril Ramaphosa, Mabuza's office told News24 that the latter was of the view it was important to have the same individual deputising in the party and state.  

Speaking to News24 on Friday, Mabuza's office said: "While it is a fact that there is no pronouncement by the president on any changes in the executive, the deputy president has, within the context of ANC leadership changes, taken a considered view that it is important to align party leadership roles with government responsibilities."

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Mabuza's office confirmed that he had been locked in engagements with Ramaphosa and informed him of his intention to resign. 

Mabuza's office said: "He has engaged the president on his intention to resign to foster leadership synergies and cohesion, both in the party and the state. The deputy president is awaiting a decision to that effect."

This effectively opens the door for Mashatile to become the next deputy president of the country. 

News24 understands that Mabuza was open to stepping aside when he declined the nomination for deputy president of the ANC at the party's national elective conference in December. 

Despite this willingness to make way, sources close to the negotiations have told News24 that the ANC in KwaZulu-Natal, Gauteng, the North West and Limpopo have been insisting that the party "needs a leadership that would take the country forward".

One national executive committee (NEC) member said: "Just as it was the case in Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal, the newly elected leadership needs to be allowed to take the party forward and communicate what they will do for citizens post-2024, and not have a leadership that will talk about what they have done with their time in power."

Paul Mashatile.
Gallo Images

While some in the top leadership believe he still has a lot to offer, it appears Mabuza will leave the Union Buildings and head back to Mpumalanga. While some expect him not to be lost to politics, as he might become an international statesman, called upon to engage conflict-ridden nations, particularly on the continent. 

Some in the NEC, however, believe that, based on his character, Mabuza may disappear into obscurity and choose to spend his retirement out of sight. 

Amid calls for Mabuza to be allowed to serve out his term, Mashatile is said to have been adamant that he was not keen on waiting that long; he wanted to take over state duties immediately. 

Explained: What needs to happen before Mashatile can become the country's deputy president

While the Constitution allows the president two members of his Cabinet who are not MPs, the deputy president must be an MP;

A party can only bring in new members (who aren't already MPs) if there are vacancies in the seats the party won in the election;

If there aren't any vacancies, this would mean sitting MPs would have to resign;

The seats are filled according to the party's list. If the vacant seat was held by someone on the national party list, the new member must be the next in line on the national list. If the person vacating the seat was from a provincial list, the replacement members must be the next in line from that province's list;

According to Schedule 1(A) of the Electoral Act, parties may review their lists a year after the seats were allocated. However, this can only be done once a year, and it may not replace more than a quarter of the names on the original lists. The order of the lists may be rearranged;

The list must then be submitted to Parliament, and the Secretary to Parliament must, within 10 days after the receipt of the list, publish it;

It means that, for Paul Mashatile to become deputy president, the following needs to happen:

The ANC must amend the applicable list to place him in the next available slot;

The list must be submitted to Parliament, which must publish it, and an MP must vacate their seat (to make way for Mashatile); and

Mashatile must be sworn in as MP, which opens the way for President Cyril Ramaphosa to appoint Mashatile as his deputy - Jan Gerber 

Mashatile is believed to have one eye on the presidency, given that the race for deputy president of the ANC at the national elective conference was seen as a succession race, with Ramaphosa serving his last term. 

For Mashatile to become deputy president, he must be sworn in as an MP, which opens the way for Ramaphosa to appoint him as his deputy. However, several MPs appear to be in the dark about the changes to its caucus in Parliament. 

ANC MPs, who spoke to News24 on condition of anonymity, said there had, so far, not been any changes announced.

"We have not heard anything. We know that the national executive committee meets this weekend and, hopefully, the positions and new lists will be sorted. The matter of the deputy president is an important one, which will also be dealt with," an MP said.

Pieter du Toit | Leaderless, clueless and talentless: Five reasons why the ANC is screwed

Meanwhile, on Friday, while talking to journalists in Ekurhuleni, on the sidelines of the NEC meeting, ANC secretary-general, Fikile Mbalula, said the party was going to adopt a different approach when it came to who will speak for it. 

"We are going to have spokespersons for the ANC," said Mbalula.

He added that the name of Mahlengi Bhengu was one of the names that had been proposed, and would be adopted by the ANC.

Mbalula was responding to reports that the party had appointed Bhengu, a former Youth League leader and board member of the ANC's OR Tambo School of Leadership, as its spokesperson. 

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