On Sunday, President Cyril Ramaphosa confronted his deputy, Paul Mashatile, over the latter’s claims of a conspiracy to oust him.
Mashatile said three months after taking over as deputy president that unnamed people were seeking to remove him by next month.
However, the president, who has the authority to nominate and replace his deputy, has flatly denied Mashatile’s assertion, claiming that it included “no truth or substance.”
“I immediately said to him, I appointed you, and I am the only person that can disappoint you. There’s just no thought, no plan, no inkling whatsoever that something like that is in the works,” the president said.
On the sidelines of the ANC’s national executive committee (NEC) meeting on Sunday, Ramaphosa spoke with the media.
According to City Press, Mashatile indicated on Sunday that those working against him had set an August deadline to remove him.
“I became aware that there were people trying to stop me being appointed at the Union Buildings. In fact, they began plotting last year at the political level. They didn’t want me to become deputy president of the ANC, but the conference elected me,” Mashatile was quoted as saying.
The president stated that his deputy’s statements were false.
He said: “I also saw the report [in the] City Press, and I had a discussion with the deputy president. I said, ‘What is this?’ We are going to have another discussion.”
Mashatile did not say who he thought was behind the plot to oust him. Bejani Chauke, Ramaphosa’s close ally and advisor, distanced himself last week from messages purporting to show him conspiring against Mashatile.
“It has come to my attention that there is a manipulated fake WhatsApp chat regarding the plot to disrupt the stability of operations of the Office of the Deputy President via the media,” said Chauke.
Ramaphosa also warned against misleading messages.
Mashatile has been dogged by controversy since assuming the deputy presidency.
Mashatile lived a life of luxury and apparent excess, entertaining a string of lovers and acquaintances in multimillion-rand residences owned by tenderpreneurs and recipients of government contracts on Cape Town’s elite Atlantic Seaboard.
He was pushed into the spotlight again last Sunday when members of his security detail were caught beating motorists.
Mashatile defended his association with Edwin Sodi, who is facing corruption charges, and Ndavhe Mareda, Eskom’s coal supplier, stating he had known them for years.
“The narrative is that I should be ashamed of myself for associating with people like Edwin and Ndavhe because state capture will return through me,” the deputy president told City Press.
Ramaphosa said he was not aware of any allegations of criminality involving the deputy president.
“I would have to have my own head examined to have a deputy president appointed and thereafter removed,” the president said.