Why Cyril had to appoint 'DD' despite the skeletons in his closet
The real problem now is less about Mabuza being deputy and more about him becoming president one day
President Cyril Ramaphosa has been “hung, drawn and quartered with his heart cut out while alive” in his forced marriage to his deputy – controversial politician David Mabuza.
Known as “DD”, Mabuza was, until Monday night, premier of Mpumalanga and also the recently elected deputy president of the ruling party.
It was the votes from this powerful ANC province that ultimately helped Ramaphosa succeed Jacob Zuma as president.
Mabuza’s reward: Elevation to the position of South Africa’s second most powerful man, an appointment political analysts say Ramaphosa would have fought tooth and nail.
Political expert Aubrey Matshiqi said from the look of “terrible pain” on Ramaphosa’s face when he left the holding room shortly before announcing the cabinet reshuffle, one could see certain appointments were forced on him.
“One of those was Mabuza. Ramaphosa’s look says something about the relationship between the party and the state ... even if Ramaphosa did not want to appoint [Mabuza], it’s a political reality he could not escape.
“Looking at Ramaphosa, you would think that he had just be hung, drawn and quartered with his heart removed while he was still alive.”Born in 1960, Mabuza, a qualified teacher, entered politics in the 1980s as a member of workers’ and teachers’ organisations.
In 1984 he was appointed secretary of the Azania Students’ Organisation. His rise within politically connected structures saw him become Mpumalanga’s ANC regional chairperson in 1994.
Within two years he became part of the ANC’s top political leadership in Mpumalanga, going on to join the party’s national executive committee in 2007.
For nearly a decade he has been premier of Mpumalanga, a province where there have been several political assassinations. Those include: former Mbombela speaker Jimmy Mohlala, who in 2009 was shot dead after speaking out against corruption in the 2010 Soccer World Cup; and Sammy Mpatlanyane, Mpumalanga sports, culture and recreation department spokesman, who was shot dead in his Mbombela home in 2010.
Sunday Times journalist Mzilikazi wa Afrika was arrested in 2010 after publishing articles about a Mozambican man who claimed to have been hired by provincial government officials as an assassin for Mabuza’s political rivals and business opponents.
Late last year, the provincial executive committee issued a statement denying a suggestion by former ANC treasurer general Matthews Phosa that Mabuza was running militias to threaten and intimidate the ANC’s branches in Mpumalanga on how to vote ahead of the national elective conference.
The latest scandal to dog him has come from Mpumalanga environmentalist and tourism ecologist Fred Daniels, who has blown the whistle on corruption in the provincial government. Daniels, who said he had been intimidated by Mpumalanga officials for years, in January sought a protection order against the deputy president.
Mabuza, in court papers, described the protection order as a political smear campaign, but the Carolina Magistrate’s Court granted an interim protection order against Mabuza earlier this month and the matter has been set down to be heard on April 9.Political analyst Professor Shadrack Gutto described Mabuza’s appointment as a tactical move by Ramaphosa, who could not afford to ignore him and who, up until now, had been given little room to manoeuvre.
“It’s a difficult balancing act. Mabuza was always pushing for a pro-president Jacob Zuma ANC administration, with Mabuza having indicated before that he sees Ramaphosa as a temporary president.
“It is clear that tensions are simmering. What will be interesting will be who will be the more temporary of the two in this forced marriage, which seems a necessity as the 2019 national elections approach.”
Matshiqi said the cabinet reshuffle betrayed Ramaphosa’s limits.
“The appointment of Mabuza is a good example of his limits of his power. The ANC has sat with the problem of the appointment by presidents of their deputies for a long time. It was the same for Mbeki with Zuma and Zuma with Ramaphosa, where the party deputy is not someone the president of the party and state wants as South Africa’s deputy president.“Mabuza, who is not the ideal candidate to become the party and country’s next president, is a product of the balance of forces as they existed at the ANC’s 2017 elective conference.
“Mabuza’s appointment illustrates that no president makes full cabinet appointments of his own choosing, with a degree of the appointments imposed on presidents.”
The real problem was less about Mabuza being deputy president and more about the possibility that he can become the future president.
“Mabuza constitutes a threat not as deputy president, but rather as an ANC mover and shaker who can define Ramaphosa’s life inside the party.
“Ramaphosa’s actions in dealing with Mabuza will be whether any decision he takes on him [Mabuza] maximises unity or disunity within the party and the implications for him [Ramaphosa] as head of the ANC. It comes down to Ramaphosa’s own political survival.”