It’s official – Cyril Ramaphosa has been elected president.
Yeah, we knew that was going to happen, although yesterday’s National Assembly proceedings did contain a few surprises.
Front and centre was the announcement that deputy president David Mabuza had “had bowed out from being sworn in as MP”, casting doubt on whether or not he would continue to serve as Ramaphosa’s understudy.
Before we get into that, here’s your chance to watch the president’s speech from yesterday, which stressed that he would “be the president of all South Africans”:
Hands up if you don’t miss Jacob Zuma’s chuckle at all.
Anyway, back to the issue of the deputy presidency with the help of the Daily Maverick:
Just two hours before the swearing in of the 400 MPs, Ramaphosa, wearing his hat as ANC president, announced that Deputy President David “DD” Mabuza [below] would “postpone” his swearing in as MP so he could address allegations before the ANC Integrity Commission of having prejudiced and brought into disrepute the governing party…
Saying Mabuza’s swearing in as MP was postponed pending the Integrity Commission processes is kicking for touch and a face-saving description for what effectively is Mabuza’s departure from the Union Buildings. Having applauded the move because of Mabuza’s “dictates of conscience” and “respect for ANC processes and institutions”, Ramaphosa would not appoint him to one of the two Cabinet posts he can fill from outside the parliamentary benches.
Later on Wednesday an internal ANC message making the rounds clearly indicated the governing party was arranging that Mabuza’s parliamentary seat was allocated to someone else. That means Mabuza, while he remains ANC deputy president, is off the public representatives lists…
So hang on – the deputy president has been booted into touch? An appearance before the ANC Integrity Commission is well overdue (also, the words ‘ANC’ and ‘integrity’ appearing together is oxymoronic to the nth degree), given his long and storied history of gross corruption, but this is still quite a shock.
At least David tweeted a good game:
It’s now clear that the ANC internal battle for power has just stepped up a notch. Sources say that Ramaphosa may well appoint a female as his deputy, when he announces his cabinet after the presidential inauguration this Saturday.
It seems that Minister in the Presidency Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma [below], Minister of International Relations and Cooperation Lindiwe Sisulu, and minister of Higher Education Naledi Pandor would then be front-runners, but others have also mentioned ANC treasurer general and former Gauteng premier, Paul Mashatile, as having an outside shot.
If Ramaphosa did bring Dlamini-Zuma on board, he would possibly strengthen his position within the party structures by winning over the ANC Women’s League (another oxymoronic term), as well as other members who backed Dlamini-Zuma at last year’s Nasrec battle.
Whilst this all sounds like good news for those hoping for Ramaphosa to remain at the helm and rid the ANC of its more unsavoury elements, some insiders say that you write Mabuza off at your peril.
From another Daily Maverick article:
Mabuza’s latest move is not good at all for Ramaphosa. Mabuza now has all the time in the world to work on the ANC at grassroots level. Remember, that’s how he worked his way up, and eventually became the king-maker at the Nasrec conference in 2017.
The Ramaphosa camp generally has no control of the party, especially at sub-national level. Their focus has been on the national issues and mainly at governance level, with investment and policy talk receiving urgent attention at the expense of the political base…
The biggest risk for Ramaphosa is that Mabuza knows the deep, dark, dingy holes in the underbelly of the ANC more than anybody else in the party’s Top Six. And having him closer and occupied with real work would have been better for Ramaphosa.
There is still a slim chance that he may be a useful ally for Ramaphosa in the short-term battle to tame Ace Magashule, the SG, whose allegiance is only to the Zuma camp; the long-term risk is that Magashule and Mabuza could realign, after all, their DNA is the same, and they represent the rural barons who formed the bulwark that propped up Zuma’s ruinous era.
What stops them from realising that they are better off together than apart?
For those mourning the end of Game of Thrones, there’s always the real-life battle for the heart and soul of this country’s ruling party to focus on.
Sadly, there are actual, real-world ramifications to this power struggle, and there’s no scriptwriter to blame if (when) things unravel.
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