High-profile arrests: Should Deputy President Paul Mashatile be a worried man? Analysts say the timing is curious



Published Jun 10, 2024


Following weeks of screaming headlines regarding an ongoing investigation against the then speaker of National Assembly Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, South Africans were staggered when she checked in at Lyttelton Police Station in Centurion in April, arrested and moments later made a court appearance.

Early this month, media reports peaked with articles prophesying the impending arrest of then minister of sport, arts and culture Zizi Goodenough Kodwa.

It was a matter of days before Kodwa and co-accused, “friend” former tech giant EOH boss Jehan Mackay checked in at Bramley police station.

The pair was quickly processed and brought to court on Wednesday.

Media scrutiny has now ramped up against deputy president, Paul Mashatile who has been accused of malfeasance during his time at the Gauteng provincial government.

Mashatile has vehemently denied any wrong doing.

He has called the allegations against him a smear campaign.

In an interview with IOL, Associate Professor at the North West University, John Molepo said the high-profile arrests augur well for a vibrant democracy where there no holy cows.

“Probably the arrests are part of the renewal project – which is however happening a bit too late when the damage is already done, regarding the marked decline of support. Remember, Ramaphosa came in, he was riding on the renewal project and it was hoped that he was going to clean up even those close to him.

Associate Professor at the North West University, John Molepo. Picture: Supplied

“I can say we are seeing progress now in terms of how these arrests taking place, particularly on those who are politically powerful. It sends a very strong message and South Africans are now starting to feel that even those who are aligned to President Cyril Ramaphosa are now getting their day in court.

“Equally, it should not be about politics but purely based on transgressions in law. Zizi was flagged a long time ago by the State capture report. It took time for the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) to act and there has been a strong feeling that the president was protecting him,” he said.

Deputy President Paul Mashatile. File Picture: Timothy Bernard / Independent Newspapers

Molepo said he hopes that the arrests are not about proving any political points, given the political scenario prevailing in the country.

Of late, the widespread exposés around the personal life and business links of Mashatile have sky-rocketed, causing many social media users to wonder if he would not suffer the same fate as Mapisa-Nqakula and Kodwa.

Former sport, arts and culture minister Zizi Kodwa in court. File Picture: Itumeleng English/ Independent Newspapers

Molepo said while South Africa’s second in command should be squeaky clean, any action taken by law enforcement agents against him would be interpreted in the context of the timing.

“The only challenge I have with the Paul Mashatile issues is the timing. At this moment there are ongoing political with some saying thy prefer him to rise from deputy president to be president, and then all these issues are coming to the fore. If there is anything wrong that he has done, no one should be above the law. If there are genuine cases against him, State institutions should be be deterred by the political office he holds.

“But for me it would be the timing that is worrying the most. There are campaigns and de-campaigns going on for him at this stage. We are at that period in the country.”

Deputy Paul Mashatile having a light moment with President Cyril Ramaphosa at Tuynhuys in Cape Town. File Picture: Ayanda Ndamane /Independent Media

Concurring with Molepo, seasoned investigator and anti-crime analyst Calvin Rafadi said the high-profile arrests are a step in the right direction – as long as they are not for political expediency.

“The arrests should surely be welcomed. It shows that the Hawks are clearly doing their job. There are several other politicians who are going to suffer the same fate. People like Gwede Mantashe (Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy) and others definitely in line. This shows that as a country, we are moving in the right direction,” said Rafadi.

African National Congress national chairperson Gwede Mantashe who is also Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy. File Picture: Itumeleng English/Independent Newspapers

“Having said that, what is puzzling is that these individuals have been close allies of the president. It was the president who appointed Zizi Kodwa to micro-manage South Africa’s state security apparatus. From observation, one can think Zizi stepped on some toes somewhere because that move from deputy minister of state security to minister of sport was very questionable.

“It had long been coming for Zizi Kodwa because even though he got a ministerial post, he commanded much more influence as deputy minister in the Presidency, in charge of state security. He had serious power there in the Presidency, even though he was a deputy minister. So when the president moved him, we did not know what was happening then, but we now see the whole picture,” he said.

Regarding the noise being made against Mashatile, Rafadi said the clamouring is not going to stop until it has received Ramaphosa’s attention.

Crime analyst and commentator Calvin Rafadi. File Picture

“Now they are rattling the cage. From day one, Mashatile came into the office of deputy president office, he was marked as unwanted by the business sector – which continues to make serious noise against him. The business sector is very powerful in driving narrative and if you are not one of their favourites, by all means the so-called skeletons in your closet will be following you every day of your life. One would expect that the evidence against Mashatile would be laid bare – but what we get is bold headlines that we are unmasking, Paul Mashatile,” he said.

“All this rattling of the cage is aimed to draw the attention of the president to go to the extent of signing proclamations for Mashatile to be probed by entities like the Special Investigating Unit. So we are still going to continue seeing these allegations mounting against Mashatile. I do think those accusing him do not have the evidence they claim to have, but they are only playing political espionage to bring the man down.”

Politically, there has been widespread speculation that Mashatile would be sacrificed as the ANC warms up to the Democratic Alliance, seeking to form a government of national unity – by giving the deputy president position to the DA.

A government of national unity (GNU) is being formulated after the ANC lost its majority at the elections and is now courting its rivals to form the next government.

The ANC dramatically plunged below the 50 plus one, losing its decades-long parliamentary majority and now desperately needs coalition partners to form the next government following the May 29 elections.