As South Africa’s newly inaugurated President Cyril Ramaphosa prepares to announce his Cabinet, he has a fresh battle on his hands.
As he ascends to the seat of power at the Union Buildings in Pretoria, the ANC’s headquarters in Johannesburg may be taken over by a group of high-ranking ANC officials dubbed the “premier league”.
The term was coined for ANC leaders who served as premiers in the Zuma administration. They include Deputy President David Mabuza, a former Mpumalanga premier who asked to have his swearing-in as an MP postponed this week. The other two are former premier of Gauteng Nomvula Mokonyane and ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule, who served as premier of the Free State.
The ANC’s integrity commission will meet Mabuza and 21 other senior leaders under scrutiny, flagged in its report, from today until Tuesday.
According to a source at Luthuli House, if Mabuza returns to Luthuli House it will be part of a long-term strategy of the “premier league” to galvanise support from ANC branches.
“The comrades know that they are going to be purged... The best place to fight back is Luthuli House,” the source said.
Mabuza, Mokonyane and Magashule were staunch supporters of Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma in the build-up to the ANC’s 54th national conference at Nasrec. The trio would be a threat to Ramaphosa’s presidency at the party’s national general council (NGC) in 2020.At an NGC delegates can table a motion for an election to replace the top six.
EFF leader Julius Malema told EWN if Ramaphosa didn’t appoint Mabuza as his second-in-command it could come back to bite him. He said historically presidents who antagonised their deputies ended up being unseated by them.
“Ramaphosa must never think DD (David Mabuza) will not become a president. If he wants peace, we all know it started towards Polokwane. Zuma said ‘I want to clear my name’, but behind the scenes he said to us that he was forced out.”
Malema cautioned that Ramaphosa shouldn’t take for granted that Mabuza would go away quietly.
Themba Sigudla, an Mpumalanga-based businessman and founder of an organisation called Practical Radical Economic Transformation, told Independent Media Mabuza was testing the integrity of the integrity commission. The active runner of Mabuza’s deputy presidential campaign said: “If the integrity commission was aware of the allegations against Mabuza before Nasrec, why do they wait for parliamentary lists before raising those objections?”
Former minister of mineral resources Mosebenzi Zwane applauded Mabuza’s efforts to clear his name. Confirming that a battle was brewing, Zwane said: “There is a notable trend and effort to get rid of comrades that worked with Zuma. Why must people be purged because they support Zuma?”
Zwane said: “Every ANC leader has the right to work from Luthuli House. The change is good. Mabuza has done well by choosing the organisation above himself. In 2017 he spoke much on unity, it will be a good opportunity to work for unity.
Ramaphosa was sworn in as South Africa’s fourth democratically elected president before a cheerful crowd at Pretoria’s packed Loftus Versfeld Stadium.
He vowed to create jobs and tackle deep-rooted corruption that has strangled economic growth.
“Today our nation enters a new era of hope and renewal,” said Ramaphosa, 66, flanked by foreign leaders including Democratic Republic of Congo president Felix Tshisekedi and Chinese premier Li Keqiang.
“Let us forge a compact for growth and economic opportunities, for productive land and wider opportunities ... A compact of an efficient, capable and ethical state. A state that is free from corruption,” said Ramaphosa, who narrowly won the ANC leadership race in 2017 and replaced scandal-plagued predecessor Zuma as state president in February last year.
Since then he has struggled to appease factions in the party opposed to his reform plans, especially at cash-strapped Eskom. His promises to punish party members accused of corruption have also stuttered.
The challenges facing Ramaphosa were highlighted on Friday by the resignation of Eskom’s chief executive, who quit only a year after he was appointed to stabilise the utility and keep the lights on after nationwide blackouts.