South African Deputy President David Mabuza’s reappointment to his post was cast into doubt after he asked to delay his swearing-in as a lawmaker while he defends himself against accusations that he brought the ruling African National Congress into disrepute.
President Cyril Ramaphosa, who has vowed to clean up the government after his predecessor Jacob Zuma’s scandal-marred rule, is due to name a new cabinet after his 25 May inauguration.
Under the constitution, his deputy must be selected from among the ranks of the 400 lawmakers, meaning Mabuza could be disqualified if he doesn’t clear his name in the next few days.
Ramaphosa initially favored Higher Education Minister Naledi Pandor or International Relations Minister Lindiwe Sisulu to be his deputy, but gave the post to Mabuza after he won the deputy leadership of the party in December 2017.
Mabuza, who was due to be sworn in as lawmaker on Wednesday, asked to delay the process “in light of a report by the ANC Integrity Commission in which he is alleged to have prejudiced the integrity of the ANC and brought the organization into disrepute,” Ramaphosa said in a statement.
“The deputy president has indicated he would like to have an opportunity to address the Integrity Commission on these allegations,” Ramaphosa said. “In the meantime, he has decided nevertheless to follow the dictates of his conscience.”
The party asked the integrity committee to look into the suitability of all proposed lawmakers. While the body can make recommendations to the party, its decisions aren’t binding. Ramaphosa didn’t indicate what Mabuza was alleged to have done wrong.
“The constitution is very clear,” Pierre de Vos, a law profession at the University of Cape Town said by phone.
“If you are not a member of the National Assembly you cannot be appointed Deputy President. The Constitution and the electoral law are not clear how long a person can postpone his swearing in, but I don’t think it can be indefinitely.”