South African Deputy President David Mabuza resigned, clearing the way for Paul Mashatile, the new deputy leader of the governing African National Congress, to succeed him.
Speaking at a family funeral in the northeastern Mpumalanga province, Mabuza said he had informed President Cyril Ramaphosa that he had resigned, and that he was making space for Mashatile.
His remarks were broadcast on Cape Talk radio.
While Ramaphosa can appoint any member of the National Assembly as his deputy, it has been an ANC tradition for the top two government posts to mirror its own.
Mashatile, previously the ANC’s treasurer-general, is expected to be sworn in as a lawmaker on Feb. 6, a clear indication that he’s set to join the executive.
Ideally, it is “the deputy president of the ANC who becomes deputy president of the country,” Fikile Mbalula, the ANC’s secretary general, told reporters last week.
Mashatile’s appointment, along with several other cabinet changes, are likely to be announced in coming days. Vincent Magwenya, Ramaphosa’s spokesman, declined to comment.
Mabuza, 62, was instrumental in helping Ramaphosa win control of the ANC in late 2017, while securing the No. 2 party post for himself.
Mashatile won the latter post at an ANC conference in December, after Mabuza failed to secure a single nomination from any party’s structures.
A former schoolteacher, Mabuza was linked to a string of scandals while serving as premier of Mpumalanga, but wasn’t charged and denied any wrongdoing.
He has kept a relatively low profile since Ramaphosa named him as his deputy in 2018, and has travelled to Russia to be treated for an undisclosed condition.
Ramaphosa was reelected as ANC leader in December, meaning he’ll be the party’s presidential candidate in 2024 elections.
Several opinion polls show the ANC risks losing the majority it has held since the end of apartheid in 1994, a backlash against its failure to tackle record blackouts, rampant unemployment and poverty.