A backlash against ANC deputy president David Mabuza appears to be playing itself out in the governing party’s list process ahead of next year’s national and provincial elections, and he may fail to secure the number two position on the list.
This spot is traditionally occupied by the party’s deputy president. Branches around the country are currently holding meetings at which they will name their nominees for the provincial and national lists and there are already indications that the knives are out for Mabuza.
ANC MPs — the pool from which members of the new Cabinet will be drawn — are elected to the National Assembly and the National Council of Provinces on the basis of the lists, which are consolidated nationally after provincial and regional nominations conferences.
The list process is still in its early stages, but unofficial lists used for lobbying purposes by ANC structures in two provinces, Gauteng and Mpumalanga, do not name Mabuza in the number two slot. Instead, they have opted for other candidates for the position of deputy president of the country.
Although the party is likely to use the consolidation process to ensure that Mabuza is placed for appointment as deputy president, it will be a terrible embarrassment to him if the party structures sideline him in the nomination process.
The backlash is being driven by supporters of former president Jacob Zuma, who are angered by Mabuza’s “betrayal” of the Zuma slate at the ANC’s Nasrec elective conference in December.
Mabuza, who had previously been close to the Zuma camp and was part of the so-called premier league that backed Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma’s candidacy, was credited with clandestinely swinging the “unity” vote at the conference in favour of President Cyril Ramaphosa. Zuma’s supporters vowed at the time to deal with Mabuza for the “betrayal” and appear to be making their move to do so now.
The Gauteng lobbying list names national executive committee member and International Relations Minister Lindiwe Sisulu as number two on the province’s list of nominees for the National Assembly.
Mabuza does not appear on the list of 20 people at all, which names ANC national chairperson Gwede Mantashe in place three and includes several members of the slate that backed Dlamini-Zuma for president at Nasrec.
The Limpopo list names State Security Minister Dipuo Letsatsi-Duba, a former Zuma supporter who migrated to the camp that backed Ramaphosa ahead of the conference, as its nominee for second place on its list for the National Assembly.
Third place is occupied by Finance Minister Tito Mboweni and fourth by Sisulu.
The deputy president is again absent from the national list, from which the president draws his Cabinet.
Zuma supporters in North West, Mpumalanga and KwaZulu-Natal are likely to take a similar line in their provincial list conferences, which will take place once the branches and regions complete their nomination processes.
ANC spokesperson Pule Mabe did not respond to calls from the Mail & Guardian for comment.