/ 7 February 2023

David Mabuza to attend State of the Nation address as deputy president

Gettyimages 944759416
SOWETO, SOUTH AFRICA - APRIL 11: Deputy President of the ANC David Dabede Mabuza speaks during the memorial service for Winnie Mandela At The Orlando Stadium on April 11, 2018 in Soweto, South Africa. Winnie Mandela, ex-wife of Nelson Mandela, died in a Johannesburg hospital on April 2nd at the age of 81. (Photo by J. Countess/Getty Images)

Deputy president David Mabuza will be part of the programme of Thursday’s state of the nation address (Sona), his office told the Mail & Guardian

Mabuza’s spokesperson, Matshepo Seedat, said the deputy president had accepted the invitation to the annual event. 

During a funeral in Mpumalanga, Mabuza said he was going to resign as deputy president to make way for his assumed successor, Paul Mashatile.

“The communication from the office of the deputy president is that yes he has communicated an intent to resign, but if the president has not released him, he has not released him. 

“He is still the deputy president of the country and, yes, he is coming to the state of the nation address,” the office of the presidency said. 

This comes as speculation runs rampant in the ANC that President Cyril Ramaphosa is trying to buy time to allay the fears of his allies on an impending cabinet reshuffle, which will see newly elected ANC deputy president Mashatile taking over Mabuza’s position in cabinet. 

Insiders in the ANC and those sympathetic to Mashatile have accused some in Ramaphosa’s camp — including members of the so-called Chris Hani cabal — of attempting to dissuade Ramaphosa from appointing Mashatile. 

The cabal consists of party chair Gwede Mantashe, Eastern Cape chair Oscar Mabuyane, finance minister and NEC member Enoch Godongwana, as well as minister in the presidency, Mondli Gungubele. All four are from the Chris Hani region in the Eastern Cape and have been instrumental in Ramaphosa’s political survival in the ANC. 

Ramaphosa has left the country and his party in limbo regarding the reshuffle. It was expected to take place after many of his cabinet ministers failed to make it to the ANC’s national executive committee at the December elective conference. 

Insiders linked to Mabuza earlier told the M&G that there were those in Ramaphosa’s camp trying to convince Mabuza to “stay put” as caretaker deputy president until next year’s elections. 

There is also talk among insiders in Ramaphosa’s camp that Mashatile should be moved to a “critical portfolio” in cabinet outside of the Union Buildings to avoid him “interfering” in matters such as the energy recovery plan. 

TimesLive reported that the presidency office confirmed Ramaphosa had requested the deputy president to remain in his position until such time that the modalities of his departure and transition had been finalised.

But Mabuza’s allies said he was resolute that he would not stay on as deputy president.

The M&G previously reported that Ramaphosa and Mashatile had met three times since being elected at Nasrec to discuss a smooth transition in government.

The two met once in December, shortly after the governing party’s conference where Mashatile beat Mabuyane and Ronald Lamola for the position of ANC deputy president. 

Ramaphosa and Mashatile are said to have met twice in January — once during the Free State conference and again shortly thereafter — where the reconfiguration of government was discussed. 

Mashatile was sworn in as an MP on Monday.