Unlikely Ramaphosa will leave him out of his cabinet: Mashatile exits ANC NEC meeting unscathed

07 June 2024 - 06:41
By Lizeka Tandwa and Kgothatso Madisa
ANC national executive committee members who spoke to TimesLIVE said deputy president Paul Mashatile, right, was likely to retain his position in President Cyril Ramaphosa's seventh administration. File photo.
Image: Freddy Mavunda © Business Day ANC national executive committee members who spoke to TimesLIVE said deputy president Paul Mashatile, right, was likely to retain his position in President Cyril Ramaphosa's seventh administration. File photo.

ANC deputy president Paul Mashatile appears to have come out of the special national executive committee (NEC) meeting on Thursday unscathed, after speculation he would be the “sacrificial lamb” in the coalition talks for a new government.  

TimesLIVE previously reported Mashatile’s allies in the ANC suspected those within the party advocating for a coalition with the DA would use his position as deputy president as a bargaining chip.  

Several people in Mashatile’s circle previously told TimesLIVE he was concerned about the sudden push in the ANC for a tie-up with the DA given the opposition party was interested in the deputy president position. 

Mashatile, they said, had also noted that in its non-negotiables, the ANC only mentions the position of President Cyril Ramaphosa.  

They said the ANC has not defended Mashatile’s position. 

Insiders said during the NEC there was no mention of Mashatile having to give up his post in cabinet. NEC members who spoke to TimesLIVE said Mashatile was likely to retain his position in the seventh administration.  

Mashatile, they said, enjoyed a close relationship with Ramaphosa and it was unfathomable he would be left out of the cabinet.

“The appointment of cabinet, including the deputy president, is the prerogative of the president. This matter was resolved ages ago. The president is closer to Paul than he was to DD [former deputy president David Mabuza]. He has given Paul more responsibilities than he gave to DD,” one insider said.    

“There is no way the ANC can negotiate and say we will amend the constitution for a second deputy president. That is what [EFF leader] Julius [Malema] wanted,” they said.    

Another NEC member said while the committee had not discussed the position as it pertains to a government of national unity (GNU), “we don’t envisage a situation where the president leaves out his own deputy out of his cabinet”.   

One committee member said it had been clear coming out of the meeting that the position of deputy president would “remain” with the ANC.

During his closing remarks on Thursday evening, Ramaphosa announced the NEC would invite all parties to form a GNU.  

Ramaphosa said this arrangement would cut across all hung provinces, including KwaZulu-Natal, Gauteng and Northern Cape, where the ANC failed to retain its majority. 

He said its purpose will be to tackle the pressing issues South Africans want to address, including job creation and growing the economy, the high cost of living, crime and corruption. 

Ramaphosa said it was clear from the election results that South Africans expect their leaders to work together, to find common ground, overcome differences and act together for the good of all. 

The GNU is a model first explored in South Africa in 1994 when the ANC formed a government with the National Party (NP) and IFP during a period of great instability.  

After the adoption of a new constitution in 1996, the NP exited the agreement. It was seen as a positive move towards the stability of the country coming out of apartheid.  

Ramaphosa said the NEC agreed the broadest range of social forces must be united and those who seek chaos and instability must be avoided. 

He said the NEC agreed in a robust and frank dialogue that a GNU is the most viable and effective model to meet the expectations of all South Africans. 

“Our democracy has been hugely enhanced, and the people of our country have spoken. We accept their vote and the way they have concluded,” he said.  

The ANC is expected to meet with MK Party (MKP) leaders on Friday. Its leader, former president Jacob Zuma, had previously snubbed the ANC by refusing to negotiate with it under Ramaphosa.

ANC secretary-general Fikile Mbalula said Ramaphosa was a “no go area” should any party wish to join it in governing.  

Reacting to the announcement, Malema took to social media to label the ANC as “arrogant”.  

He said: “The arrogance continues even after South African voters issued warning signs. You can’t dictate the way forward as if you have won elections. We are not desperate for anything. Ours is a generational mission.”