The Cat corners Cyril Ramaphosa

President's dilemma over David Mabuza clouds his crucial cabinet decision


ANC deputy president David Mabuza and party national chair Gwede Mantashe appeared before the party's integrity commission on Friday evening in a last-ditch attempt to clear their names ahead of President Cyril Ramaphosa's announcement of his new cabinet.
Mabuza's availability for the position of SA's deputy president has been the subject of much speculation since he asked the party to postpone his swearing-in as an MP until the integrity commission has cleared his name.
Mabuza subsequently approached the commission and requested to meet them on Friday. They agreed and Mabuza - known as The Cat in ANC circles because of his political survival skills, including surviving a poisoning incident - is believed to have defended himself against a report that flagged him as having questionable integrity.
Ramaphosa was yesterday inaugurated as SA's fifth democratically elected president in front of a crowd of 30,000, including African heads of state and other dignitaries at Loftus Versfeld Stadium in Tshwane. He is expected to announce his cabinet tomorrow.
In his speech, Ramaphosa did not drop a hint about how his cabinet will look, instead using the first address of his term to call for unity. "Despite our differences, despite a past of conflict and division and bitterness, despite the fierce political contestation among 48 political parties in recent months, we share the same hopes and fears, the same anxieties and aspirations," he said.
The Sunday Times understands that Ramaphosa is facing a dilemma, trying to decide the position of deputy president - and what to do with two of his senior and trusted ministers, Mantashe and Pravin Gordhan.
On Friday the public protector said Gordhan had violated the constitution in a matter related to the approval of former South African Revenue Service commissioner Ivan Pillay's early retirement.
It remains unclear whether Ramaphosa will take the risk of appointing Mabuza and Mantashe before they are cleared by the integrity commission. Nor is it clear whether Gordhan will make the cut despite the adverse finding by the public protector.

The integrity commission will submit its full report on Mabuza, and 21 other leaders, to Luthuli House on Tuesday.
The chair of the integrity committee, George Mashamba, yesterday confirmed they met Mabuza on Friday. "He called for the meeting - but it was after we made a call that whoever was flagged must appear before us," said Mashamba.
The report, the Sunday Times understands, will be forwarded to the ANC national executive committee, which will discuss it at its meeting on Thursday.
The Sunday Times has been told that one of the complaints about Mabuza is an allegation that he was linked to dozens of political killings when he was the ANC's strongman leader in Mpumalanga. An insider said Mabuza maintained that the accusations of murder, which have been made repeatedly over the years, were merely "rumours perpetuated by his political rivals".
"His main argument is that he has long been accused but the matter was never taken up by law enforcement and all the accusations made against him have been discredited," the insider said.
In a meeting of the ANC top six in Cape Town on Monday, Mabuza is said to have suggested he step aside to clear his name, but a compromise was then reached to delay his swearing-in as an MP.
On Wednesday, Mabuza sat in parliament, watching MPs also implicated in the integrity committee report being sworn in.
"You see, allegations of murder are not the same as corruption or tender fraud. Murder is very serious and these accusations are not tested, so he was adamant that he wanted to clear his name," a second source said...

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