In a move aimed at strengthening his office, Deputy President Paul Mashatile has appointed top communicators and advisors to help him in steering the ship as South Africa’s second in command.
He appointed former president Thabo Mbeki’s ex spokesperson, Mukoni Ratshitanga, former journalist Vukani Mde and former ANC head of communications, Keith Khoza, among others.
Mashatile was finally sworn in last month following President Cyril Ramaphosa’s alleged hesitation to name him as a replacement for David Mabuza, who resigned months ago.
“Deputy President Paul Mashatile was sworn in as the Deputy President of the Republic of South Africa on 7 March 2023. Following that, a transitional period took place involving a handover process, particularly on the delegated responsibilities that the Deputy President would inherit from his predecessor as delegated by the President,” said Matsepo Seedat, a spokesperson in the presidency in a statement.
Other appointees include the following:
• Former Acting Director-General of the Gauteng Provincial Government Mduduzi Mbada, who is now the Head of the Office of the Deputy President.
• Mde, who has been appointed Mashatile’s spokesperson and chief director of communication.
• Khoza takes over as political advisor to Mashatile.
• Thabo Mbeki’s former presidential spokesperson, Ratshitanga, was appointed internal relations advisor.
• Former Government Communication, Information and System chief director and specialist on cities, Dr Tshilidzi Ratshitanga was appointed strategy and Spatial transformation advisor. He resigned as Chairperson of the Housing Development Agency four days ago.
• Mabuza’s former advisors, Madala Masuku and Thulani Mdakane, have been retained as advisors on service delivery and land reform and social cohesion, respectively.
Seedat added that Mashatile has been confirmed as the Leader of Government Business in the National Assembly, responsible for fast-tracking land reform, agricultural support, rapid response interventions on service delivery and trouble-shooting in service delivery hotspots.
Mashatile is also expected to assist Ramaphosa with the roll-out of the District Development Model through effective coordination of the different spheres of government, which will improve the functioning of municipalities and address community concerns.
He is further tasked with leading the South African National AIDS Council and the country’s integrated response to the challenges facing HIV and AIDS.
The deputy president’s other roles include special envoy on South Sudan and leading peace missions on the continent, leading the Human Resources Development Council of South Africa, and promoting social cohesion initiatives with particular focus on traditional and Khoi-San leaders, as well as military veterans.
Mashatile will also chair cabinet committees dealing with governance, state capacity, and institutional development as well as the justice, crime prevention and security.
“To achieve these objectives, the Office of the Deputy President supports the Deputy President in his Constitutional responsibility of assisting the President in the execution of the functions of government.
“A well-capacitated office with technical skills to achieve the objectives of government will ensure that the Deputy President is able to effectively fulfill his mandate,” Seedat said.
The following are the individuals appointed to strengthen Mashatile’s office.
In January, Mabuza’s resignation became corridor talk within the Union Buildings until he personally announced it at his uncle’s funeral in Phola outside Hazyview, Mpumalanga, on February 4.
At the time, Ramaphosa’s office followed up with a statement acknowledging Mabuza’s resignation but insisting that he should allow for a smooth transition before stepping down.
The battle for the soul of the presidency was so tense that Mabuza was reportedly dragged to the State of the Nation Address after he refused to play to the gallery while Ramaphosa mulled over his controversial resignation.