Like him or not, David Mabuza has lived up to his nickname, the Cat, proving he may have nine lives.
He was sworn in by Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng Tuesday, ending speculation that he might be redeployed to idle at Luthuli House, ANC headquarters.
A political analyst, Somadoda Fikeni, said not appointing Mabuza as the nation’s deputy president would be a “political miscalculation” by President Cyril Ramaphosa.
“Besides, it is the ANC tradition to put its deputy president as the deputy president of the republic and therefore it would have become difficult to justify a deviation from that tradition,” Fikeni said.
Last week Mabuza voluntarily requested for his initial swearing in to parliament to be postponed until he had cleared his name after 22 ANC NEC members, including him, were flagged by the commission for involvement in alleged corruption. Former finance minister Malusi Gigaba and his environmental affairs counterpart, Nomvula Mokonyane had already opted not to return to parliament.
Mabuza met with the committee on Friday and it gave him the reasons why his name had been flagged, and he was given the chance to respond.
Yesterday (Tuesday) integrity commission chairperson George Mashamba told The Citizen they had to finish their deliberation on the fate of rest of the remaining ANC members so as to give a report to the party top brass the same day. He declined to give further details, saying he must report to the party leadership and not to the media.
It is understood that most of the 22 ANC members had already appeared before the commission, which was busy finalising its report during its meeting held at Parktonian Protea Hotel in Johannesburg. Besides Mashamba, The Citizen saw veterans Andrew Mlangeni and Brigitte Mabandla, both members of the commission, coming out of the meeting around lunchtime on Tuesday.
Fikeni said Mabuza was a crucial piece in Ramaphosa’s chess game, as he helped him to win power at Nasrec after he changed tack to support his candidacy against Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma.
“Secondly, as president, you wouldn’t like to have your unhappy deputy at Luthuli House, where he would be tempted to plot against you with the likes of Ace Magashule,” Fikeni said.
Political analyst Tinyiko Maluleke said since Mabuza was sworn in, there was no likely impediment to stop Ramaphosa from reappointing him into his Cabinet.
“The fact that he asked not to be sworn in when he was supposed to, and chose to go to the integrity commission, means he respects the process of his party, and that is commendable,” he said.
Maluleke said doubts would always be there about Mabuza’s fitness to be deputy president or future president.
“These doubts have been there; they are nothing new. We will have to live with that,” Maluleke said.
Another analyst, Dumisani Hlophe, lambasted the tendency to focus on individuals rather than the dynamics that existed within the ANC.
“It is in the best interest of the ANC for DD Mabuza to be in the ANC and to be the deputy president of the country. This debate has very little to do about Mabuza becoming the deputy president but more about him becoming the future president. That’s where some have a problem,” he said.
“There is no alarm for me around DD Mabuza; it does not hold water. This democracy has built checks and balances to deal with those who do wrong. Individual leaders are held to account by our democratic institutions. I am not convinced that we should look at Mabuza outside of the ANC fold,” Hlophe said.
However, Mcebisi Ndletyana from the University of Johannesburg said: “Mabuza is a detractor from the imagery of Ramaphosa as he has a chequered past as premier of Mpumalanga. It would have made sense if he was deployed at Luthuli House,” Ndletyana said.
As Ramaphosa’s ally currently, Luthuli House was a suitable place for Mabuza because that was where there were battles to be fought and won as the place was filled with Ramaphosa’s opponents.
“I am surprised that Mabuza insisted on taking that position (deputy president) instead of volunteering to go to Luthuli House,” Ndletyana said.
Eric Naki / The Citizen