Mabuza in high-stakes bid to clear his name
Deputy President David Mabuza is in a high-stakes bid to force the hand of the ANC integrity commission and clear his name, asking it to reveal the evidence against him and show it followed due process.
But as the commission neither collects evidence against ANC members nor pronounces on their innocence or guilt, he could be sent away empty-handed. Either way the role of the commission and the way it does its work is set to come under close scrutiny over the next few days.
Complicating matters is the problem that the ANC national executive committee (NEC) has never drawn up terms of reference for the body, a task it was given at its conference in 2017.
Commission chair George Mashamba said on Thursday a meeting with Mabuza could take place as early as Friday, or at the weekend at the latest. He also said "if a person is not satisfied they must go to the NEC".
ANC insiders close to Mabuza said that he hoped the matter would be swiftly resolved and be sworn in as MP before President Cyril Ramaphosa selects his cabinet, probably on Sunday.
On Wednesday, Mabuza shocked the country by requesting that he be allowed to delay being sworn in. His close associates said this was because he wanted to clear his name.
He is one of 22 people whose names appear in a report by the integrity commission as among those on the ANC election list who are linked to allegations of wrongdoing. It had been anticipated that Mabuza would again serve as deputy president in Ramaphosa’s new cabinet.
In a statement on Thursday, his spokesperson Thami Ngwenya said that Mabuza had learned through media reports that his name had been flagged by the commission and he had not seen the report.
"When the ANC NEC referred the lists to the integrity committee for further vetting, it clearly instructed that body to conduct such reviews as it may deem necessary within the ambit of the list guidelines, the rules of natural justice and the resolutions of the 54th conference."
Mabuza was still waiting "in good faith" for an opportunity to answer any allegations against him, Ngwenya said.
But he had not been made aware of any accusations or afforded an opportunity to give his version of events."Instead he himself called to request that he be afforded an opportunity to present himself. He will thus present himself to the integrity committee as agreed to with its chairperson."The commission is a sub-committee of the ANC’s NEC. Its function is to decide whether the conduct of a member has or is likely to cause damage to the party’s reputation and recommend to the NEC whether a person should step aside from their responsibilities. It is not a disciplinary committee.Its role was embedded in the ANC constitution in 2017, which states that officials and the NEC may refer to it "any unethical or immoral conduct by a member", which could bring the organisation into disrepute.The commission, however, is not likely to be intimidated or to roll over. It is made up of experienced and unimpeachable ANC stalwarts such as Brigitte Mabandla, Smangaliso Mkhatshwa, Sophie de Bruyn, Sindiso Mfenyana, Sue Rabkin, Essop Jassat, Cyril Jantjies and Mashamba himself.The commission submitted its full report to ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule several weeks before the election. The intended next step, from its side, is that the NEC will consider its recommendations and decide whether to accept them.However, the commission’s report has not yet made it past Magashule’s desk onto the agenda of the ANC NEC.Magashule on Monday told journalists that the work was still under way and people therefore could not be removed from the list.Neither Magashule nor ANC spokesperson Pule Mabe replied to questions about this on Thursday.In the absence of the report being tabled to the NEC there has been no discussion within the party on whether Mabuza or any of the other 21 people are fit and proper to represent the ANC, hence Mabuza’s plea to state his case.
Many of the allegations made against Mabuza are containedin a detailed report in the New York Times published last August, in which he was accused of wide-scale corruption in his home province of Mpumalanga.
Ngwenya said that Mabuza’s only motivation was to "subject himself to the dictates of the instruments created by the ANC to improve its efficiency and effectiveness".
"The deputy president feels that as a leader, he should be seen to stand by and to support the call to renew the ANC and its call for ethical leadership.
"He takes the mandate given to the ANC in the recent elections with humility and seriousness. It is out of respect of the ANC, its membership and the electorate that as deputy president of the ANC, he has decided to wait for the integrity commission to finalise its processes so that he can have an opportunity to answer to whatever allegations there may be against him."