The ANC’s 55th elective conference in 2022 may be just about the last hurdle standing in David Mabuza’s way to becoming the party’s president and eventually, the country’s first citizen.
Well, only politics is not as simple and straightforward as critics often make it out to be.
Just last week Mabuza looked like a dead man walking, destined for the scrapheap of political history. In the court of public opinion he was a goner, a man who was going to be cut down to size by the ANC’s integrity committee.
It is now history that the man delayed his own swearing in as MP just hours before his colleagues took their oaths of office last week, to subject himself to the scrutiny of the party’s stalwarts.
But the plus side of it all was that Mabuza enjoyed uninterrupted attention from all and sundry, with the public, media, analysts and political opponents all focused on him for the better part of a week.
In fact Mabuza’s shadow appeared to overshadow even Ramaphosa as he took his oath of office at a packed Loftus Versfeld.
And on Tuesday Mabuza took his oath before chief justice Mogoeng Mogoeng, not as part of the crowd of MPs that clambered for the public’s and media’s attention in Parliament last week.
He had almost all of the better part of a week with media attention focused on him, speculating on his probable intentions and profile. Those who know say no publicity is bad publicity. We may never know how much of Mabuza’s decision to postpone his own swearing in swayed Ramaphosa to stick with him as his number two.
But one can argue that even if Ramaphosa had intended to get rid of Mabuza as his deputy in government, he would have found it difficult after the man had pulled this stunt that focused so much attention on him.
Mabuza, having been cleared by the integrity commission now enjoys the moral high ground and may begin consolidating his support base and the disgruntled post-Zuma crowd with a clear conscience and a spring in his step.
After all, who wouldn’t be after having been given the green light as a credible leader by the ruling party’s stalwarts? If Thabo Mbeki who was the darling of the public and business, both local and foreign, had a Zuma problem then Ramaphosa clearly now has a similar challenge in the form of Mabuza whose dodgy reputation will no doubt continue to dog him.
The Cat gets to start another life and may be preparing for another as the main man in charge – watch out.