Mpumalanga premier David Mabuza has told his provincial cabinet that he will be vacating his office soon because of his new responsibilities as ANC deputy president.
Business Day understands from sources who attended a cabinet lekgotla in the province last week that Mabuza indicated he could be departing as early as next week.
This is the strongest indication yet that Mabuza might be headed for the Union Buildings to take up the position of deputy president of the country, with a cabinet reshuffle by President Cyril Ramaphosa on the cards.
Mabuza’s comments to his cabinet in Mpumalanga were made at the lekgotla held in preparation for his state of the province address on Friday.
In response to questions from Business Day, the premier’s spokesman, Zibonele Mncwango, said that "it was true that Mabuza indicated the possibility of his vacating his office in the province to his cabinet colleagues".
"Indeed the premier shared this with his colleagues at the cabinet lekgotla last week that he was at the exit point," Mncwango said.
However, Mabuza did not provide a timeline of when this would happen, he added.
Sources have told Business Day that Mabuza is set to resign as Mpumalanga premier on Monday next week.
When asked whether Mabuza was headed for the Union Buildings, Mncwango said the premier was at the ANC’s disposal for deployment in any capacity.
"This is part of his responsibility as a leader of the movement," he said.
He said a shift to the Union Buildings was not within Mabuza’s control and was the "prerogative of the president".
Human Settlements Minister Lindiwe Sisulu and Science and Technology Minister Naledi Pandor have also been touted for the post.
Ramaphosa told Parliament on Tuesday that an announcement on the composition of the cabinet would happen "at an appropriate time".
It is unclear who would replace Mabuza as the premier in Mpumalanga.
Mncwango said although the premier believed there were many capable leaders who could take over from him, his successor was also not up to him. "It should be understood further that this is not the process that is within the purview of the premier."
Mabuza was elected as deputy president of the ANC at the party’s hotly contested national conference at Nasrec in December 2017.
The support from Mabuza’s province for Ramaphosa was largely responsible for the president’s narrow victory over the former African Union commission chairwoman, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma.