(Bloomberg) -- Paul Mashatile, the new deputy president of South Africa’s governing party, was appointed as a lawmaker on Monday, a likely precursor to him taking up the No. 2 post in the government.
Three other senior members of the African National Congress — Parks Tau, a former mayor of Johannesburg, Sihle Zikalala, an ex-premier of the eastern KwaZulu-Natal province, and Maropene Ramokgopa, the party’s second deputy secretary-general — were also sworn to the National Assembly. They’ve also been tipped to be appointed to President Cyril Ramaphosa’s executive, with changes set to be announced in coming days.
Incumbent Deputy President David Mabuza has indicated that he wants to step down, but had been asked to remain in his post until “the modalities of his departure and transition have been finalized,” Vincent Magwenya, Ramaphosa’s spokesman, said in a text message on Sunday. A day earlier, Mabuza said he was stepping aside to make space for Mashatile, who replaced him as the ANC’s deputy leader at a conference in December.
Ramaphosa, 70, comfortably won a second term as head of the party at the same gathering, while his allies secured most posts in its top party leadership structures. That gives him more scope to remove under-performing or incompetent ministers from his executive and ensure it unites behind his plans to tackle record blackouts and turn the struggling economy around ahead of elections scheduled for next year.
While Mashatile, 61, wasn’t the first choice of Ramaphosa’s camp for deputy president, it has been a long-stranding party tradition for the top two government posts to mirror its own. In an interview in December, Mashatile said the government had to stop prevaricating, fix state power utility Eskom Holdings SOC Ltd., and institute other reforms needed to tackle the energy crisis and spur economic growth.
Besides Mabuza, Ramaphosa needs to replace Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula, who has taken up a full-time post as the ANC’s secretary-general, and Public Service and Administration Minister Ayanda Dlodlo, who joined the World Bank last year. Ramaphosa has declined to comment on any changes prior to an official announcement, and it remains unclear whether he will just fill those posts and two deputy minister positions that are vacant or overhaul his executive more substantively.
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