Some of the ruling party’s top heavyweights moved into the North West on Sunday, in an effort to end the divisive wars that have plagued the province. But with legacy fractures that run deep through the provincial party’s structures, and with fighting largely centred on access to resources or corruption, it is unlikely that they will be able to do more than put a band-aid on a deep wound. By MANDY DE WAAL and THAPELO LEKGOWA.
The ruling party’s titans moved into the fractious province hot on the heels of a similar intervention in Limpopo. Business Day reports that after ruling party heavyweights visited the province that gave SA Malema, provincial ANC leaders in Limpopo were “put on notice that they have lost the support of their branches — a warning they regard as a precursor to their axing.”
In the North West, ANC Secretary General Gwede Mantashe was joined by his deputy Jessie Duarte to sort out the provincial mess at a meeting held in Tlokwe (Potchefstroom), the same municipality that has been under DA rule since November 2012, when a motion of no confidence in the previous mayor saw the opposition party take power. For obvious reasons, reclaiming Tlokwe is at the top of Mantashe’s ‘to-do’ list for 2013; it is simply to much of an embarrassment for the ANC.
“In Potchefstroom, the ANC has 11 councillors and is in the majority, but there is a DA councillor who is the mayor. It can’t continue, it just can’t continue,” Mantashe recently told Stephen Grootes of EWN.
Present with Mantashe and Duarte was Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa, who came under fire in December 2012 for allegedly interfering with the North West’s voting process in the run-up to Mangaung, so as to ensure a strong pro-Zuma force went through to the ruling party’s elective conference. The team was rounded off by treasurer-general Zweli Mkhize.
Earlier, the Sowetan reported that Gauteng Premier Nomvula Mokonyane had been tasked with travelling from branch to branch in the North West, to get a view of the challenges facing the leadership at a grassroots level.
ANC insiders who spoke to Daily Maverick off the record said the national leaders were in the North West to heal divisions said to be threatening the party’s power base there. A meeting was held by Mantashe and Duarte at the Tlokwe Municipal Building with branch members, who earlier petitioned that their provincial leaders be recalled or expelled.
The NW intervention follows a forum held in Klerksdorp on Thursday 7 February 2012 by branch and regional members opposed to the PEC, to denounce decisions taken by the ruling party’s provincial leadership. At issue was the decision by Supra Mahumapelo, China Dodovu and their allies to oust NW provincial secretary, Kabelo Mataboge. A decision was taken at this Klerksdorp forum to appeal to national ANC leadership in an attempt to get them to intervene so as to heal fractures plaguing local government performance in the North West.
Mataboge, the former ANC Secretary General for the NW, was suspended in the run-up to Mangaung, ostensibly for bringing the ruling party into disrepute. Part of a faction that opposed Zuma, Mataboge agitated for change within the ANC and alleged that corruption was destroying the ruling party.
But the issue of Mataboge wasn’t discussed by the ANC heavyweights visiting the North West. An ANC insider told Daily Maverick that the members of the ANC’s leadership and national working committee asked the North West ANC provincial executive council (PEC) members to leave the meeting. The ANC’s leadership in that province are Supra Mahumapelo, China Dodovu, Gordon Kegakilwe and Philemon Mapulane.
The ANC source Daily Maverick spoke to said that the ruling party heavyweights wanted the PEC out of the meeting so that issues of provincial leadership could be discussed freely, without the provincial executive council being present.
“The PEC is scared. There is a chance that the NWC (ANC national working committee) might come out of that meeting with a decision that doesn’t favour them, since they were politely asked to leave the meeting so they (could) be discussed,” the ANC source told Daily Maverick on condition of anonymity.
The PEC scurried late on Sunday 10 February 2012 to try and find a place where they could discuss a back-up plan in the event that a decision by the ANC top leaders went against them.
Daily Maverick was told that Mantashe, Duarte, Mthethwa and Mkhize would be meeting with Tlokwe councillors on Monday 11 February 2012 in an effort to wrestle back the city from the DA. It is said that the big five will meet Supra Mahumapelo, China Dodovu and other provincial leaders later on Monday afternoon.
Whatever action the ANC takes, it is likely to be much like putting a band-aid on a fracture. The schism in the North West is deep, structural and related to access to resources, an issue that has bedevilled the ruling party not just in that province, but across South Africa.
The divide in the North West is symptomatic of the ANC’s larger crisis in South Africa. Instead of creating a cadre of public servants committed to developing South Africa, the ANC is building a ruling layer whose values are largely based on materialism and self-interest.
The epitome of the new rising ANC elite is Supra Mahumapelo, the ANC’s pro-Zuma provincial chairman and the speaker of the North West Provincial Legislature, who still makes time for numerous other business interests.
It was widely expected that Mahumapelo would take over from North West Premier Thandi Modise after the Mangaung elective conference, where Modise lost her post as ANC deputy secretary-general and could not even be elected to the NEC. Although Modise stood firm post-Mangaung, insiders say that it is Mahumapelo who wields the power in the province.
A serial entrepreneur with multiple business interests, Mahumapelo has a stake in Afrikanos Traders, as well as Diphateng, a travel and tourism company. Both of these companies are run by Kule Mahumapelo, who also goes by the name of Moepeng Mahumapelo, and appears to be employed by the North West Provincial Legislature.
The most active of Mahumapelo’s businesses is 360 Degrees Cure, founded to “exploit opportunities within the cultural economic sector”, and which in 2012 helped Supra Mahumapelo, who is also the speaker of the North West Provincial Legislature, launch his singing career. Mail & Guardian reports that 360 Degrees Cure, of which Mahumapelo is the founder and sole signatory, was used to raise funds to the tune of half a million for his CD launch at Sun City.
The investigative weekly states that Mahumapelo used the company as a front to collect donations to his first album at Sun City’s royal ballroom hall in May 2012. People who attended the launch were said to have paid R10,000 a table.
The paper goes on to say that Mahumapelo used 360 Degrees Cure as a front company to get pro-Zuma businesses in the North West to help fund ANC President’s campaign to get re-elected in Mangaung. Mahumapelo told Mail & Guardian that people pointing fingers should rather report their suspicions: “They must write to the ANC or the police to do an investigation. They should not hide. Luthuli House is very much aware of my business.”
Like every other notable ANC politician or first lady, Mahumapelo also has a foundation. His NGO is called YES (Youth Entrepreneurship Style), which is aimed at “assisting young people in South Africa generally and North West Province in particular to develop themselves as entrepreneurs.”
Still, the ANC’s and Mantashe’s task remains: how to fix the faction fighting that is destroying the North West. The real solution, killing cadre deployment and fighting endemic corruption, it is pretty much clear, is highly unlikely.
In the North West, expect a serious tongue lashing for the incumbent leadership, and a shuffle or two. But the deep divide will remain and will rear its head again soon, as it has done many times since the dawn of SA’s democracy. DM
Photo by Reuters.
"Man is by nature a political animal" ~ Aristotle