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David Mabuza bows to Integrity Commission and steps back from swearing in as MP

By Marianne Merten 22 May 2019
Caption
Deputy President David Mabuza in parliament on 22 August 2018. Photo: Leila Dougan

Deputy President David 'DD' Mabuza has decided to 'postpone' his swearing in as MP, the ANC Presidency announced on Wednesday some two hours before the ceremony was meant to get underway in the National Assembly. It’s a decision that effectively keeps the Deputy President out of the Union Buildings and opens the door to an unprecedented break in the ANC tradition that party president and deputy also become the country’s top team.

Officially, Deputy President David “DD” Mabuza has requested the “postponement” of his swearing in as MP to have the opportunity to respond to the report of the ANC Integrity Commission on allegations he “prejudiced” the ANC and brought the governing party into disrepute.

He has decided nevertheless to follow the dictates of this conscience and postpone his swearing in as a member of the National Assembly out of respect for the ANC’s institutions and processes,” said Cyril Ramaphosa in a statement his capacity as ANC president. “The ANC commends Deputy President Mabuza for the stance he has taken and I personally applaud his resolve to put the interests of the ANC first.”

Mabuza’s action – less than 48 hours after he dismissed speculation he would not return to the Union Buildings on the sidelines of Monday’s special ANC National Executive Committee (NEC) – is hugely significant.

Firstly, Mabuza is accepting that the ANC Integrity Commission has a say in the ANC, also in holding even the highest leaders to account. This comes in the wake of many ANC seniors sidestepping and even ignoring the commission and its processes, saying the principle of innocent until proven guilty applied as was noted in the organisational reports years back when Gwede Mantashe was secretary-general.

Over the past two days, ANC Secretary-General Ace Magashule was repeatedly asked about the integrity commission report that flagged 20-odd names among the ANC’s public representatives. “The processes are unfolding,” was his consistent reply. Wednesday’s announcement is one realisation of the process.

Secondly, Mabuza’s “postponement” of his swearing in as MP creates an unprecedented situation for the governing ANC. Effectively this decision could clear the way for Ramaphosa to appoint another deputy president in his Cabinet, unprecedented in terms of ANC protocol where party president and party deputy also become South Africa’s president and deputy.

Given that the statement announcing Mabuza’s withdrawal from being sworn in as MP, temporary or not, has come from Ramaphosa – and he’s commended his deputy’s decision – it is unlikely Ramaphosa as country President would make Mabuza deputy by giving him one of the two Cabinet posts that constitutionally may be filled by a someone who is not an MP.

Mabuza’s decision not to be sworn in as MP comes a day after the ANC confirmed outgoing Speaker Baleka Mbete and Malusi Gigaba, the former home affairs minister the courts found to have lied in court, had withdrawn as public representatives. While the ANC confirmed the withdrawal in a statement on Tuesday, no reasons were given.

Meanwhile, Nomvula Mokonyane, who was due to hold the powerful position of chair of chairs withdrew as the swearing in was underway. The ANC in a statement said she withdrew from her deployment as chair of chairs due to family commitments. DM

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