Home South African Deputy President Paul Mashatile’s future hangs in balance

Deputy President Paul Mashatile’s future hangs in balance

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A letter written by the DA’s federal chairperson, Helen Zille, addressed to ANC secretary-general Fikile Mbalula, states that the party is looking to occupy 12 positions in the Cabinet, including the position of deputy president.

ANC Deputy President Paul Mashatile’s future in the Government of National Unity (GNU) is hanging in the balance after the DA showed its intentions to occupy his position as deputy president of the country. Picture: Timothy Bernard / Independent Newspapers.

DEPUTY President Paul Mashatile’s future in the government of national unity (GNU) is hanging in the balance after the DA showed its intentions to occupy his position as deputy president of the country.

This comes after widespread expectation for President Cyril Ramaphosa to announce his Cabinet after negotiations with parties under the newly formed GNU.

Mashatile has been the deputy president to Ramaphosa for both party and country since the 2022 ANC elective conference where he was elected, replacing David Mabuza.

The ANC, DA and IFP recently formed a GNU following last month’s general elections where parties all failed to gain an outright majority, forcing them to work together in the ANC-led GNU. The Patriotic Alliance, the GOOD Party, and the PAC later joined the three.

However, the list of political parties joining the newly formed government has been increasing recently, with the Freedom Front Plus (FF+), United Democratic Movement (UDM), RISE Mzansi and Al Jama-ah being the latest to sign up, leaving the DA, which is the second strongest party in the arrangement following the ANC, frustrated.

A letter written by the DA’s federal chairperson, Helen Zille, addressed to ANC secretary-general Fikile Mbalula and doing the rounds on social media on Monday, states that the party was now looking to occupy 12 positions in the Cabinet, including the position of deputy president.

Zille in the letter laid bare the party’s demands if they were to stay in the GNU, saying that she was designated to write on behalf of DA leader John Steenhuisen.

“Our decision on whether to join such a government will, in the end, depend on our ability to effect such change … The election result requires that power be shared in a new government. That means power cannot continue to reside solely with the ANC,” Zille wrote.

She wrote that the DA and ANC were the biggest parties.

“This would then be required to sacrifice posts proportionally to an ‘inclusivity pot’ … The Cabinet positions the DA holds should rightly include the post of deputy president, as is standard practice in similar governments around the world.

“We can only agree to give up that post if it is replaced with both a Minister in the Presidency, who is also designated as the leader of government business and participates fully in the policy development and monitoring responsibilities of the Presidency, and a deputy minister of finance, who participates fully in the development of the Budget.

“It is also reasonable and fair that the DA should have representation across all Cabinet clusters,” she wrote.

Some of Zille’s demands included the ministries of mineral resources and energy; transport (with Transnet reallocated to this portfolio); trade, industry and competition; social protection, community and human development; public works and infrastructure; higher education, science and innovation; governance, state capacity and institutional development; public service and administration; co-operative governance and traditional affairs; justice, crime prevention and security; home affairs; and international co-operation, to name a few.

The letter further demanded the deputy minister positions in all the ministries with the exception of the Finance Ministry.

In a statement by the ANC, believed to be a response to the DA, it said the claims were “outlandish” and “outrageous”.

Spokesperson for the party, Mahlengi Bhengu-Motsiri, wrote: “The ANC notes with concern that some parties have been making outlandish and outrageous demands for specific Cabinet positions in the media. Negotiating through leaking demands to the media is an act of bad faith and this practice will not help the cause of any party. It is only the president who has the final say on the appointment of his Cabinet.

“The GNU cannot be held to ransom by any single party. The people need a government to be established sooner, rather than later.”

DA spokesperson Solly Malatsi said on Monday that his party remained committed to the Statement of Intent which sought to set up a GNU.

“The purpose of our negotiations now is to give expression to that statement so that we are able to make a positive impact on the lives of South Africans. We obviously cannot enter a government if we do not have the means to effect positive change. We are hopeful that we can reach a satisfactory agreement with the ANC,” said Malatsi.

He further said the DA was obliged to respect the mandate the party got from the voters and putting the people of South Africa first.

According to Patriotic Alliance leader Gayton McKenzie, the delay in announcing the GNU Cabinet was due to political parties’ quest for power. “The delay and fight is now about positions in GNU, let no one lie to you. Politicians and political parties exist for accumulation of power, stop acting like you exist for ambience, the delay is about who occupies which positions now. We should all be honest about this obvious point,” McKenzie said.

In a television interview, political analyst Professor Andre Duvenhage said the DA was frustrated by the ANC bringing more parties into the GNU without having been consulted.

He said this could have been a strategy for the ANC and that the leader of the GNU might not need the DA in the long run if the smaller parties continue to join the ANC-led organisation.

He said the DA had asserted that they were prepared to leave the GNU.

“If the ANC can bring in a large number of smaller parties, then they are probably very close to 50%.

“Now the DA is saying they didn’t ask for the position of the deputy president, but if the strongest party takes the Presidency, the Speaker and so on … then they will say they want the deputy presidency as the second strongest party … but that position is very sensitive to the ANC because that position is very essential for uniting the ANC,” Duvenhage said.

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