David Dabede Mabuza was born 25 August, 1960 in Brondal, Mpumalanga. He matriculated from Khumbula High School. He obtained a National Teacher’s Certificate from Mngwenya College of Education in 1985. He furthered his studies at University of South Africa (UNISA) with Bachelor of Arts degree in 1989.

Mabuza has been involved in politics from his mid-twenties, holding the position of secretary of the Azania Student Organisation (AZASO) at the age of 24 from 1984 to 1985. Mathews Phosa recruited Mabuza into the United Democratic Front (UDF) in 1986. He moved on to become a Chairperson of the National Education Union of South Africa (NEUSA) from 1986 till the organisation’s banning in 1988. During this time he was also a Treasurer of the Foundation for Education with Production (FEP); a Co-ordinator of the National Education Crisis Committee (NECC) from 1987 to 1989 and a Chairperson of South African Democratic Teachers Union from 1988 to 1991. Mabuza worked at KaNgwane Department of Education from 1986 to 1988 and he was a Principal of Lungisani Secondary School from 1989 to 1993.

Mabuza served as a member of Executive Council (MEC) for Education from 1994 to 1998, a position for which he was recruited by his erstwhile mentor, Mathews Phosa. Ferial Haffajee and Amil Umraw wrote for the Huffington Post that Phosa then “ [...] axed [Mabuza] when Mpumalanga's highly inflated matric results caused a national scandal.”[1] During this period, Mabuza was also serving as a regional Chairperson of the African National Congress (ANC). He would then go on to be a member of the Provincial Executive Committee of ANC from 1998 to 2006. Mabuza became a member of the Mpumalanga legislature in 1999, a position he has held until today. He was a member of Parliament from 2001 to 2004.

Mabuza has been very involved in the running of the ANC in Mpumalanga. He was a leader of Government Business in the Mpumalanga Provincial legislature in 2007. He served as a Deputy Chairperson of the ANC Mpumalanga Province in 2005 as well as MEC for Road and Transport, from 2007 to 2008, and MEC for Agriculture and Land Administration from 2008 to 2009. He was Chairperson of the Mpumalanga ANC in 2008.

As a result of Mabuza backing Jacob Zuma in the 52nd ANC National Conference in 2007, Mabuza was voted onto the ANC National Executive Committee the same year. Two years later, he was elected to the position of Premier of Mpumalanga. Under Mabuza’s control as Provincial Chairperson, the number of delegates which the province takes to the ANC elective conference has ballooned. Mpumalanga, as of the recent 54th National Conference in 2017, has the second highest delegate total of 736 delegates. This is a large amount as Gauteng, with a population of 12 million, has 508. Mpumalanga has a population of 4 million.

Mabuza has been surrounded by controversy during his stint as Premier. Mandy Wiener writes for Eyewitness News that “[i]n 2009, R14 million in cash mysteriously disappeared from Mabuza’s home in Barberton known as ‘The Farm’. The entire incident was shrouded in secrecy, with police eventually confirming R4 million had been reported stolen, but only R1,200 was actually taken. It all smelt very dodgy, but disappeared into the news ether.”[2] Furthermore, Mabuza has allegedly had a relationship with the Gupta family, evidenced by him accepting a flight on the family’s private jet. He has since distanced himself from the Guptas.

The most serious controversies surrounding Mabuza regard the spate of political assassinations in Mpumalanga. The most high profile of which was Jimmy Mohala, who was killed in 2009. The Mbombela municipality speaker had been a whistleblower regarding corruption related to the building of the R1.2 billion 2010 FIFA World Cup stadium in Mbombela. A similar series of events played out in 2010 when Sammy Mpatlanyane, the Department of Culture, Sport and Recreation spokesperson who blew the whistle on corruption regarding the tender for the Mpumalanga archives building, was killed. James Nkambule, a whistleblower claiming a hitman had been hired by politicians to kill the rival political faction in Mpumalanga, was also found to have died by poisoning. The spate of politically linked murders prompted former Police Commissioner Bheki Cele to set up a commission of inquiry in 2011 into the murders in the province. The findings of this inquiry have yet to be made public.

In 2015, Mabuza accused Mathews Phosa of defamation after Phosa sent a memorandum to ANC headquarters, Luthuli House, which accused Mabuza of being an apartheid spy. Mabuza claimed R10 million in damages from Phosa. The lawsuit was dismissed in the High Court in 2017. The two men were involved in another confrontation in 2017 as Phosa alleged that Mabuza was operating a ‘private army’ in Mpumalanga and using it to intimidate opposition. Mabuza dismissed the allegation as fabrication.

Mabuza’s self-appointed moniker is ‘The Cat’. Mandy Wiener writes that “[w]hen he returned from a mysterious two-month hiatus due to apparent poisoning in 2015, he told his supporters “the cat was back”.”[3] This is in reference to his constant political renewal as well as his ability to bounce back from political defeats. Nothing epitomises this more than his recent election as Deputy President of the ANC at the 54th ANC National Conference at the Nasrec expo centre in Johannesburg. He defeated his opponent, Lindiwe Sisulu, by 379 votes with a total of 2538 out of a total 4708.

[1] Ferial Haffajee, Amil Umraw, “David Mabuza: The Master Political Entrepreneur”, http://www.huffingtonpost.co.za/2017/12/04/david-mabuza-the-master-political-entrepreneur_a_23296222/

[2] Mandy Wiener, “[Opinion] The Cat from the Wild East - David Mabuza”, http://ewn.co.za/2017/12/18/opinion-mandy-wiener-the-cat-from-the-wild-east-david-mabuza

[3] Ibid



Alet Janse van Rensburg, “Who is David Mabuza, ANC kingmaker?”, https://www.news24.com/Analysis/who-is-david-mabuza-anc-kingmaker-20171010|

Alet Janse van Rensburg, “David Mabuza, the man who would be deputy president”, https://anc-votes.news24.com/david-mabuza-man-deputy-president/`|

Government Communications, ‘Profile information: David Dabede Mabuza, Mr’, https://web.archive.org/web/20131231001457/http://apps.gcis.gov.za/gcis/gcis_profile.jsp?id=4387|

Jeanne-Marie Versluis, “Mabuza’s R10m defamation claim against Phosa dismissed”, https://www.news24.com/SouthAfrica/News/mabuzas-r10m-defamation-claim-against-phosa-dismissed-20170505|

Jan Gerber, “Mpumalanga ANC Denies David Mabuza Has A 'Private Army', Slams Mathews Phosa”, http://www.huffingtonpost.co.za/2017/12/06/mpumalanga-anc-denies-david-mabuza-has-a-private-army-slams-mathews-phosa_a_23299704/|

Mandy Wiener, “[Opinion] The Cat from the Wild East - David Mabuza”, http://ewn.co.za/2017/12/18/opinion-mandy-wiener-the-cat-from-the-wild-east-david-mabuza|

Ferial Haffajee & Amil Umraw, “David Mabuza: The Master Political Entrepreneur”, http://www.huffingtonpost.co.za/2017/12/04/david-mabuza-the-master-political-entrepreneur_a_23296222/

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