David Mabuza and his wife attend President Cyril Ramaphosa’s inauguration. Simphiwe Mbokazi African News Agency (ANA)

Johannesburg - Deputy President David Mabuza has fired a broadside at the ANC integrity commission in a last-minute bid to retain his position - accusing it of tarnishing his name based on hearsay and malicious gossip spread by political rivals.

Sunday Independent can reveal that Mabuza had a marathon meeting with the commission in a Joburg hotel on Friday evening in an attempt to clear his name before President Cyril Ramaphosa announced his new cabinet on Sunday.

On Friday Mabuza confirmed the meeting, but refused to elaborate.

Three sources with intimate knowledge of the meeting and its contents - including two ANC national executive committee (NEC) members and a close confidant of Mabuza - claimed that the deputy president lambasted the commission for allegedly relying on media reports and baseless claims to rubbish his name.

ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule confirmed on Saturday that he wrote letters to all 22 red-flagged leaders to appear before the commission and clear their names, “because the commission can’t just produce a report about our members without hearing their side of the story”.

The commission was chaired by ANC veteran George Mashamba and its members included Sophie de Bruyn and former justice minister Brigitte Mabandla.

An NEC member accused the commission of using underhanded tactics to destroy some comrades.

“The commission, which doesn’t even have an investigation capacity, compiled a report about 23 ANC members and sat on it for two to three months, leaking some of its content to their friends in the media. We applaud Comrade DD (Mabuza) for challenging their hypocrisy,” said the member.

Another NEC member who was briefed about developments at Mabuza’s meeting with the commission added: “Do you know what they produced as evidence against him? Newspaper clippings. They just produced newspapers and said, ‘can you explain this?’ That integrity commission is another faction within the ANC that always targets people that they don’t see eye-to-eye with.”

Mabuza’s confidant said the former Mpumalanga premier demanded an urgent meeting with the commission because he did not want to open himself up to malicious attacks in the media based on its report, in the event Ramaphosa retained him as the country’s deputy president.

Mabuza’s fight for the deputy president position dispels rumours that he wants to return to Luthuli House, the ANC’s headquarters, to fight Ramaphosa and launch his battle for the party presidency in 2022 from there.

On Saturday afternoon, Mashamba confirmed that Mabuza and ANC chairperson Gwede Mantashe appeared before his commission, but declined to discuss the proceedings.

“Well, the two of them came but I can’t tell you the proceedings. We are continuing with the others today, on Monday and we will finish on Tuesday. Then we will give the NEC a comprehensive report,” Mashamba said.

Magashule on Saturday also confirmed that Mabuza and Mantashe appeared before the integrity commission on Friday.

“I wasn’t part of the meeting so I don’t know what was discussed as I don’t have any feedback yet,” he said.

“The commission can’t just produce a report about our members without hearing their side of the story. People of our comrades are saying that they don’t even know how they were implicated in the commission’s report.”

He added that more members would be appearing before the commission in addition to the 22 instructed already.

In a dramatic turn of events this week, Mabuza delayed his swearing-in as a member of Parliament “in light of a report by the ANC integrity commission in which he is alleged to have prejudiced the integrity of the ANC and brought the organisation into disrepute”.

A Mabuza confidant said he had decided to postpone his swearing-in because he didn’t want to be the country’s deputy president “with a cloud hanging over his head”.

“Mabuza took a principled decision to clear his good name before going to Parliament as there are untested allegations against him compiled by the integrity commission,” he said.

The two NEC members said at least three leaders red-flagged by the commission - Ayanda Dlodlo, Nomvula Mokonyane and David Mahlobo - planned to challenge it for the same reasons advanced by Mabuza.

On Saturday, Mokonyane confirmed she was challenging the commission’s report.

Dlodlo and Mahlobo declined to comment.

The fourth one - former minerals resources minister Mosebenzi Zwane - said he was considering his options after receiving a letter instructing him to appear before the commission on Thursday.

“I am going to meet with them and hear what they are accusing me of. It is only then that I will decide whether I am challenging them or not. For now, I don’t even know what they are accusing me of,” Zwane said.

A senior ANC member named in the report, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he did not want to “antagonise” the commission, said he had “already requested to meet with the commission before the end of this week”.

“They compiled their report based on different articles written in various newspapers about us; some of the information isn’t even factual, and that can’t go unchallenged,” he said.

Political analyst Makhosini Mgitywa said Mabuza’s decision to request an urgent meeting with the commission was a sign he “very much wants to be deputy president”.

“And it would be expected that he would want to go back to the president and say, ‘I have spoken to the integrity commission and I don’t think there is a reason why I should be excluded from being a member of Parliament and being in the executive,” said Mgitywa.

“But I think the decision now rests with the president as to whether he wants this new dawn that he is talking about, this new culture of accountability, if he wants it to be tarnished by appointing someone who has well-established allegations against him.

“There is a book written about DD Mabuza that talks about what he is accused of in Mpumalanga and I don’t think that one meeting with the integrity commission will wipe that away.”

The Sunday Independent