Tracing David Mabuza’s Rise to Deputy President of South Africa

A controversial and powerful public figure, David Mabuza is a South African politician who is one of the most popular names in the country at the moment. He is the current Deputy President of South Africa. Mabuza is also an influential member of his party, the African National Congress (ANC), and is, in fact, the Deputy President of the ruling party. Before becoming Deputy President of South Africa, he held several political positions, including Premier of Mpumalanga Province.

David Mabuza has been involved in politics and activism since his early days as a student and gradually rose through the ranks to assume the position of Deputy President of South Africa. It is noteworthy that his political career has been punctuated with controversies and he has been involved in scandals that made headlines. However, he has remained politically relevant despite everything.

Profile Summary of David Mabuza

  • Full Name: David Dabede Mabuza
  • Date of Birth: 25 August 1960
  • Age: 61 years old
  • Place of Birth: Brondal, Mpumalanga Province
  • Nationality: South African
  • Marital Status: Married to Nonhlanhla Patience Mnisi
  • Occupation: Educator, Politician
  • Political party: African National Congress
  • Education: Mgwenya College of Education, University of South Africa

David Mabuza Began As A Student Activist

Born on 25 August 1960, David Mabuza is now 61 years old. He started his journey to the top as an activist while he was still a student and in his mid-twenties. Mabuza had his high school education at the Khumbula High School. When he graduated, he went on to attend the Mgwenya College of Education. It was at the Mgwenya College of Education that he began his activism by joining the Azanian Students Organisation (AZASO), a student movement in South Africa.

It is noteworthy that AZASO was formed in 1979 as a replacement for the banned South African Student Organisation (SASO) which was founded to resist the apartheid regime through political action. David Mabuza was so active as a member of AZASO that he rose to become the secretary of the movement in 1984 when he was about 24 years old. He remained the secretary until 1985, the same year he graduated from the Mgwenya College of Education after bagging a National Teacher’s Certificate.

David Mabuza
David Mabuza as the Premier of Mpumalanga in 2016

After bagging his National Teacher’s Certificate from the Mgwenya College of Education, David Mabuza proceeded to enroll at the University of South Africa. While at the University of South Africa, he became the Chairperson of the National Education Union of South Africa (NEUSA) in 1986 at the age of 26 years. He left the position two years later in 1988. The same year, he became the chairperson of the South African Democratic Teachers Union. The next year, in 1989, he graduated from the University of South Africa with a Bachelor of Arts degree. He was 29 years old at the time. Mabuza remained the chairperson of the South African Democratic Teachers Union until 1991.

He Was A Teacher At Some Point In His Career Journey

After bagging his National Teacher’s Certificate from the Mgwenya College of Education, David Mabuza got a job as a teacher at the KaNgwane Department of Education in 1986. He continued this teaching job for about two years before quitting in 1988 when he was about 28 years old. At this time, he was studying at the University of South Africa.

In 1989, when he had graduated from the University of South Africa, David Mabuza became the Principal of Lungisani Secondary School. He remained in this position for about four years until 1993.

How Mabuza Rose To Become Premier Of Mpumalanga Province

In the early 1990s, David Mabuza started steering towards politics and soon began to land provincial roles from 1994 when he was about 34 years old. That year, he became a Member of the Executive Council (MEC) for Education in Mpumalanga Province and served in this position until about four years later in 1998. According to reports, Mabuza was recruited into the position by his erstwhile mentor, Mathews Phosa, an anti-apartheid activist and former Premier of Mpumalanga. At this time, Mabuza was already becoming quite a popular figure in Mpumalanga. It was also in 1994 that Mabuza was made a regional Chairperson of the African National Congress (ANC), a position he held until 1998.

In 1999, at the age of 39, David Mabuza became a Member of the Executive Council for Housing and held the position until two years later in 2001. Within the same period (1999 to 2001), he served as a member of the Mpumalanga Provincial Legislature. In 2001, after stepping down from his position as a member of the Mpumalanga Provincial Legislature, David Mabuza became a member of Parliament and served in this position until 2004.

In 2004, David Mabuza became a member of the Mpumalanga Legislature, a position he served in until about four years later in 2007. He then became the Deputy Chairperson of the ANC Mpumalanga Province in 2005. In 2007, Mabuza emerged a Member of the Executive Council for Road and Transport and held this position until one year later in 2008 when he became the chairperson of the ANC in Mpumalanga.

In 2008, David Mabuza became a Member of the Executive Council for Agriculture and Land Administration and served in this capacity until 6th May 2009. It is noteworthy that the politician also served as a leader of government business in the Mpumalanga Legislature in 2007.

In 2007, while he was the Mpumalanga deputy ANC chairperson, David Mabuza pledged his support for Jacob Zuma’s successful campaign to become President of the ANC. Mabuza himself eventually became the Mpumalanga provincial ANC chairperson, taking over from Thabang Makwetla.

It was clear that Mabuza was gaining massive popularity as a politician in Mpumalanga and on 10th May 2009, he became the Premier of Mpumalanga.

David Mabuza and his wife

David Mabuza’s Journey To The Vice President’s Seat

Even as his popularity was growing in the provincial ANC party politics, David Mabuza’s reputation was also growing on the national stage. In 2017, when the ANC carried out an internal election campaign to elect Jacob Zuma’s successor, David Mabuza supported Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, a rival of the eventual winner, Cyril Ramaphosa. However, he switched to support Ramaphosa at the last moment.

During the same election, Mabuza was elected as the Deputy President of the ANC on 18th December 2017. He went on to form a good partnership with the party president, Cyril Ramaphosa. In February 2018, Jacob Zuma resigned following pressure from his party. As a result of this, Cyril Ramaphosa was elected unopposed as President of South Africa by the National Assembly on 15 February 2018. After assuming office as President of South Africa Ramaphosa proceeded to select David Mabuza as the Deputy President of South Africa. He has been dutifully carrying out his tasks in this position ever since.

Since becoming Deputy President of South Africa, David Mabuza has built a reputation as a silent force who is rarely in the spotlight but commands a lot of influence behind the scenes. Many believe he is preparing to contest to be president after his tenure as Deputy President ends.

Mabuza has been tasked by President Cyril Ramaphosa to carefully oversee reforms of the electricity sector since it is a critical sector of the economy that has suffered from mismanagement over a long period and Mabuza as Vice President would be able to bring back energy into the sector. Mabuza has also served as acting president many times whenever Cyril Ramaphosa goes on official duties outside the country.

List Of Offices David Mabuza Has Held

Non-Political Offices

  • Secretary of the Azania Student Organisation (AZASO) – 1984 to 1985
  • Chairperson of NEUSA from 1986 to 1988
  • Chairperson of the South African Democratic Teachers Union from 1988 to 1991
  • Teacher at KaNgwane Department of Education from 1986 to 1988
  • Principal of Lungisani Secondary School from 1989 to 1993

Political Offices

  • Member of the Executive Council (MEC) for Education in Mpumalanga from 1994 to 1998
  • Regional Chairperson of the African National Congress (ANC) from 1994 to 1998,
  • Member of the Provincial Executive Committee of ANC from 1998 to 2006,
  • Member of the Executive Council for Housing from 1999 to 2001
  • Member of the Mpumalanga Provincial Legislature from 1999 to 2001
  • Member of Parliament from 2001 to 2004
  • Member of Mpumalanga Legislature from 2004 to 2007
  • Deputy Chairperson of the ANC Mpumalanga Province in 2005
  • Member of the Executive Council for Road and Transport from 2007 to 2008
  • Chairperson of the ANC in Mpumalanga in 2008
  • Member of the Executive Council for Agriculture and Land Administration from 2008 to 6 May 2009.
  • Leader of government business in the Mpumalanga Legislature in 2007
  • Premier of Mpumalanga from 10 May 2009 to 26 February 2018
  • Deputy President of the African National Congress from 18 December 2017 to present
  • Deputy President of South Africa from 27 February 2018 to present

David Mabuza’s Political Career Has Been Scarred By Controversies

David Mabuza’s political career has been punctuated by controversies. The South African Deputy President has been accused of corruption and involvement in tender fraud. However, the most shocking of the allegations made against him is that he is behind the assassination of political opponents while he was premier of Mpumalanga Province. He was also accused of siphoning millions from Mpumalanga schools to enable him to amass enormous power and buy loyalty in the party.

South African President, Cyril Ramaphosa with Deputy President, David Mabuza

Corruption Claims

In 2010, David Mabuza made headlines when R14 million in cash mysteriously disappeared from his home in Barberton known as ‘The Farm’. The entire case stirred curiosity because it was later discovered to have been shrouded in deep secrecy. The police insisted that only R1,200 had been stolen from his home however, he later reported that it was R4 million that went missing. The entire case sounded very dodgy to the public with suspicions that Mabuza was concealing embezzled funds in his home.

In the month of August 2018, many South Africans were shocked when the New York Times published an investigative article in which they described David Mabuza as one of South Africa’s most dangerous men. The article claimed that Mabuza had been corruptly awarding contracts to build schools in Mpumalanga when he was premier of the Province. He allegedly did this to strengthen his power base within the ruling ANC, even though this came at the huge expense of the delivery of public education services by the government.

Allegations of Murder

David Mabuza has been persistently accused of being involved in the murder of different people. He was accused of being involved in the murder of Jimmy Mohlala, the speaker of the Mbombela municipality, who was shot dead on January 5, 2009, shortly before he was to lay criminal charges about some massive corruption he had uncovered in Mpumalanga Province. Before his cruel murder, Mohlala had been a very passionate whistleblower regarding very serious corruption findings that were related to the building of the R1.2 billion 2010 FIFA World Cup stadium in Mbombela. He was just about to make the findings very public when he was killed off. Many South Africans concluded that he had been killed to keep the corruption findings private and so that the high-profile figures involved would not be exposed.

In what was considered a similar series of events playing out, another man called Sammy Mpatlanyane, who was the spokesperson of the Department of Culture, Sport and Recreation spokesperson was killed in 2010. Mpatlanyane was killed after he blew the whistle on corruption regarding the tender for the Mpumalanga archives building. It was widely believed that Mpatlanyane had been murdered to stop him from saying more about the corruption findings.

David Mabuza has also been accused of having a hand in the killing of James Nkambule, an ANC Youth League firebrand. Nkambule was killed after he made a sensational claim that a hitman had been hired by politicians to kill the rival political faction in Mpumalanga. The man was found dead after he was apparently poisoned. The most recent allegations were made by Jan Venter, a former butler to Mabuza, who claimed that Mabuza had mentioned to him (Venter) that he was behind the murders of Jimmy Mohlala and James Nkambule. According to Venter, Mabusa made this statement to him in order to intimidate him into lying on the witness stand. Venter had since been placed into a witness protection program.

The rate of political killings in Mpumalanga Province became so mind-bugging that Bheki Cele, a former Police Commissioner, was prompted to set up a commission of inquiry in 2011 to look into the murders in the province. However, the findings that were made by this inquiry have not been made public yet. In 2017, David Mabuza’s former mentor, Mathews Phosa alleged that Mabuza was operating a ‘private army’ in Mpumalanga and that he was using this private army to badly intimidate his opposition. However, Mabuza spoke up and swiftly dismissed the allegation as pure fabrication.

On his part, David Mabuza has described all these allegations as baseless and claimed that he has been the target of a smear campaign for a long time by people who hate to see him progress in his political career.

He Has Been Nicknamed ‘The Cat’

David Mabza has also been attacked at different times but has survived all the attempts to take his life. In fact, in 2015, Mabuza was allegedly poisoned. As a result, he became very sick. In fact, he was so sick that he had to disappear from sight for months. However, he eventually recovered to the shock of the alleged murder plotters.

When he returned from his sick leave, Mabuza addressed himself as “The Cat” for his ability to survive attacks by his opponents. The nickname stuck. Today, Mabuza is widely called by his nickname ‘The Cat’ in different quarters around South Africa.

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