ANC members Thato wa Magogodi and Lucky Kgabi presented polling data to the party’s national leadership they claimed to provide clear grounds for North West Premier Supra Mahumapelo’s removal. The ANC’s dominance in the province is under threat after violent protests against the premier and a resurgent opposition, evident in the EFF’s recent victory in a by-election in Coligny.
The two most prominent members of the Revolutionary Council, an ANC group committed to replacing the North West government, told leaders the party might win only 44% of the provincial vote in 2019 if Mahumapelo stays in power. If national leaders act, the ANC might take 51-54%. The leaders listened.
The ball might still be in the premier’s court, but the game has changed. The ANC’s national working committee (NWC) has resolved to recall Mahumapelo and President Cyril Ramaphosa has reportedly asked him to step down. He faces the threat of being ousted through a no confidence motion if he refuses.
Wa Magogodi, a former North West ANC Youth League leader, said Mahumapelo will likely try to find a loophole to cling to power.
“I don’t throw bones but knowing him and knowing what’s at stake he’ll try to play duck and dive,” he said in Mahikeng on Friday.
The premier and his allies in the provincial government face a laundry list of corruption allegations and must be removed to improve governance and service delivery, say his opponents. Mahumapelo claims he’s being targeted because he supported Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma rather than Ramaphosa in the ANC’s national election contest.
A number of ANC North West regions and provincial leaders have come to his defence, but the Revolutionary Council members don’t believe the premier has sufficient support to split the province after he is removed.
Kgabi and wa Magogodi say they’ve received death threats and heard a rumour that Mahumapelo’s supporters would target their homes when the premier steps down or is recalled. They claim, however, that his support is linked to patronage and any campaign to hold on to power will be rejected by the public and ANC members yearning for clean governance.
“The push back will die a natural death because it does not have a place in the new dawn,” said wa Magogodi.
“Those that oppose removing Supra are defying logic and are anti-ANC.”
The premier still has some support in the national leadership and Kgabi warned they would release evidence that some “very senior” leaders in the party had benefited from corruption in the province.
The ANC has long been split in North West and the Revolutionary Council was formed days after Ramaphosa was elected at the party’s conference in December at Nasrec. Mahumapelo’s ally former president Jacob Zuma had been removed and with him went the premier’s protection. His critics met on 27 December in Mahikeng and decided they’d launch a campaign to force his removal.
“We were resolute that the only way to go is to oust this guy. Otherwise, he would run amok with the public purse,” said wa Magogodi. “If you want to fight someone you need to know when to strike.”
There’s been a sustained campaign against the premier since January. It culminated in the recent protests against Mahumapelo that saw Mahikeng and other parts of North West closed and the region’s poor service delivery, particularly in health, exposed. Ramaphosa jetted back from London to deal with the crisis, signalling that the premier’s days were numbered.
“This guy’s just an irritation. Our campaign is about cleaning the ANC and making sure there is a proper government and making sure there is a clean government,” said wa Magogodi, who alleged the premier’s administration is not only corrupt but that corruption is its priority.
Removing Mahumapelo isn’t the ANC’s only headache. The party will need to appoint a new premier and there have been calls for the North West provincial executive committee (PEC) to be disbanded and replaced with a provincial task team (PTT) that would lead the province into the 2019 elections.
The Revolutionary Council members wouldn’t say who they support to lead the PTT but they have given national leaders their criteria. They want a party veteran who can unite the ANC and who has experience in government and boosting local economies. They believe the PTT leader should also be appointed premier to avoid having two centres of power.
“When he steps aside, that is when the real battle begins,” said wa Magogodi. DM
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