President Cyril Ramaphosa may elevate his former foe, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, to the position of deputy president of the country after David Mabuza's withdrawal from the swearing-in of members of Parliament.
Mabuza, the deputy president and former Mpumalanga premier, threw his weight behind Ramaphosa at the ANC's Nasrec conference in 2017 and was appointed deputy president in February 2018.
But he was implicated by the ANC's integrity commission alongside other ministers, such as Nomvula Mokonyane, as being unfit to hold public office earlier this year. Mabuza shocked the ANC on Wednesday morning when he announced he would not be sworn in as an MP before clearing his name before the commission.
During his tenure as premier, Mabuza was implicated in large-scale corruption and the killing of political opponents. He has never been charged with or convicted of a crime and has maintained his innocence.
ANC sources have told News24 that Ramaphosa is likely to appoint a woman as his deputy when he announces his Cabinet after the presidential inauguration on Saturday. Ramaphosa is expected to announce the new executive over the weekend.
The names of Dlamini-Zuma, the Minister in the Presidency, and Naledi Pandor, the Minister of Higher Education, are mentioned as possible candidates.
Sources say it will be strategic of Ramaphosa to appoint Dlamini-Zuma to appease the ANC Women's League for dropping Mokonyane and Bathabile Dlamini from his Cabinet.
It will also be a sign that Ramaphosa supports the "unity project" in the ANC, as Dlamini-Zuma headed up the "Zuma faction" at Nasrec.
Ramaphosa and Dlamini-Zuma have gravitated towards each other since he appointed her Minister in the Presidency, responsible for planning and evaluation. Ramaphosa's trust in Dlamini-Zuma has strengthened to a point where she has become his point person to deal with business and agriculture.
Dlamini-Zuma has not shown any visible support for a faction developing around ANC secretary general Ace Magashule, that is actively undermining Ramaphosa.
Pandor was Ramaphosa's original choice for deputy president at Nasrec, but she and Lindiwe Sisulu lost to Mabuza in the end.
Pandor, who recently obtained her doctorate in education, is a respected senior politician who doesn't have any controversies hanging over her head.
A wild card name mentioned as a possible deputy president, is ANC treasurer general and former Gauteng premier, Paul Mashatile. Mashatile is a close confidant of Mabuza with presidential ambitions.
But Ramaphosa has to appoint an MP as his deputy and Mashatile was not on the list of ANC candidates to be sworn in on Wednesday. He was seated in the presidential gallery behind Ramaphosa's wife, Tshepo Motsepe, on Wednesday during the swearing-in ceremony.