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By Eric Naki

Political Editor

‘Pouncing cat’ David Mabuza has another hand to play

According to analysts, David Mabuza is likely to re-emerge as part of group seeking to oust Cyril Ramaphosa

Former deputy president David Mabuza may have resigned, but that’s not the end of “The Cat”, as experts believe he could resurface in a political realignment to help the ANC grouping known as the Premier League oust President Cyril Ramaphosa.

Political analyst professor André Duvenhage said Mabuza decided to jump, to pre-empt his imminent removal by Ramaphosa in the pending Cabinet reshuffle.

Mabuza announced during a funeral in Mpumalanga at the weekend that he had resigned, to make way for ANC deputy president Paul Mashatile to replace him.

Mabuza asked to remain in office

Mashatile, former KwaZulu-Natal premier Sihle Zikalala and outgoing Gauteng MEC for economic development Parks Tau were expected to be sworn in as MPs – a precursor for appointments into Cabinet.

After Mabuza’s comments, the Presidency said Ramaphosa had asked his deputy to remain in office “until such time as the modalities of his departure and transition have been finalised”.

Mabuza could not be reached to confirm his future plans, but experts believe he will continue political wheeling and dealing behind the scenes before he returns as Mashatile’s ally.

ALSO READ: David Mabuza confirms his resignation as SA’s deputy president

The two initiated the so-called Premier League along with other pro-Zuma provinces, such as North West under Supra Mahumapelo, prior to the 2017 Nasrec conference, but their loose alliance fizzled out when Mabuza was co-opted by Ramaphosa to become his deputy.

Not the end of Mabuza

“I do not think this is the end of Mabuza. I think he is part of bigger repositioning that is taking place within the framework of not only the ANC but the ANC and related groupings like in KZN and so on. The kingpin in this process is Mashatile,” Duvenhage said.

Mashatile and Mabuza worked very closely in the North West to mobilise for Mashatile towards the ANC 55th national conference in December last year, when he was campaigning to become ANC deputy president. It’s part of a long game to mobilise for Mashatile as the future president for 2024 and beyond.

The ANC North West provincial executive committee, or “N12”, led by Nono Maloyi, canvassed North West delegates to vote for Zweli Mkhize and Mashatile at Nasrec.

The bigger scheme was to “leave Ramaphosa to win” at Nasrec and then to mobilise against the president.

Mashatile to take over the reins in 2024

ANC elective conference KwaZulu-Natal
ANC President Cyril Ramaphosa (L) and ANC Deputy President Paul Mashatile (R) at the governing party’s 55th national conference at the Johannesburg Expo Centre. Photo: The Ciziten/Nigel Sibanda

The plan was for Mashatile to take over the reins in 2024, or if the Phala Phala probes went wrong for Ramaphosa.

ALSO READ: Ramaphosa asks Mabuza not to quit ‘until modalities of his departure are finalised

“I am not saying Ramaphosa is going to fall but I don’t think the mobilisation against him has ended. In a way this is one of the reasons why he is extremely cautious with the Cabinet reshuffle,” Duvenhage said.

The expert said this was mixed with Ramaphosa’s long-game leadership approach and his inability to take proper decisions.

He said it was surprising that Ramaphosa did not take immediate action to fire Tourism Minister Lindiwe Sisulu and Co-operative and Traditional Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma from his Cabinet for standing against him in the no-confidence motion in parliament last year.

Any leader would have acted and the party punished others who voted against its position on the vote.

Mabuza not the guy to call it quits

According to Duvenhage, Mabuza would probably align with some of the forces because he was “not a guy that is going down by just calling it quits”.

“I’m reading him as a person that is making plans on many levels.” Mashatile would be at the centre of any plot to lead a “coup d’état of some sort” – but he would need other Ramaphosa opponents on his side, including Mabuza, the ANC in KwaZulu-Natal, Dlamini-Zuma, Sisulu and Julius Malema.

Some saw Tau’s imminent appointment to Cabinet as an indication that Dlamini-Zuma was going to be fired. Before he was brought back to Gauteng, Tau served as Dlamini-Zuma’s deputy and has immense local government experience.

Tau served as mayor of the City of Joburg from 2011- 2016 and simultaneously as president of both the SA Local Government Association and the United Cities and Local Government.

Another political analyst, prof Mazwe Majola said there was “absolutely no need” for Ramaphosa to delay the Cabinet reshuffle any further.

“The president was re-elected on 18 December, 2022 and by now he should have concluded all the necessary consultations within the ruling party and the tripartite alliance.

“If the president wants to inspire confidence he must move and display enormous decisiveness.” – ericn@citizen.co.za .

NOW READ:  Paul Mashatile to be sworn in as Member of Parliament