Opinionista Omry Makgoale 29 April 2018

North West crisis: General elections are coming, Supra must go

Everything is in crisis in North West. Supra Mahumapelo must follow Jacob Zuma into retirement. He must go.

The province of giants Moses Kotane, JB Marks and Dan Tloome is in flames.

This crisis in North West should not be surprising to any ANC members or the voters in the province. This is the province of the late former Bophuthatswana Bantustan leader, Lucas Mangope. He developed the Bophuthatswana infrastructure to be the best of Bantustans, with the best education under the Bantustan system, but he was not ready to accept the new dispensation after the release of Nelson Mandela from prison.

This is the province where the Afrikaner troopers under Eugene Terre’Blanche, the racist right-wing leader, stormed the capital, hoping to defend Mangope – with disastrous consequences and unnecessary deaths for some of them. Terre’Blanche and his colleagues wanted to keep Mangope in power at all costs against supposed communists.

It is the province where Rocky Malebane-Metsing organised a coup against Mangope, without much success. It is the province which was under Popo Molefe, the former UDF secretary general, until he was pressured to vacate the premier’s office. It is the province formerly led by Thandi Modise, the current speaker of National Council Of Provinces … and lastly the province of Supra Mahumapelo, who has broken all ethical rules.

Mahumapelo introduced unprecedented systemic corruption in all sectors of the economy in North West. As part of the Zuma/Gupta machinery, the Guptas had a free reign in the province. The classic case is that of Mediosa medical company, a Gupta-controlled company given a tender to provide medical services without following the due process, and handed R30-million in advance before doing the work. This is the province that hosted the Guptas’ wedding at Sun City.

To crown it all, Mahumapelo manipulated Denel – the largest manufacturer of defence equipment in South Africa – to give his son an air pilot training scholarship worth R1-million. It is a province of dire poverty, high unemployment, with poorly maintained and dilapidated infrastructure. Mahumapelo, a relic from the slate elected at the ANC conference at Mangaung in 2012 through the current methods of branch delegates, represents the worst in the ANC North West provincial leadership. Kotane, the former general secretary of the SACP and ANC treasurer general, JB Marks – the former chairman of the SACP and the man who chaired the historic Morogoro conference in 1969 – and Dan Tloome, former chairman of the SACP and deputy secretary general of ANC: they all must be turning in their graves.

The province has been in flames recently, with looting of shops and factories, and Nehawu on strike – leaving hospitals unmanned, so that relatives have had to be called to collect untreated patients from hospitals. This acute crisis for patients has only been held at bay thanks to the intervention of the SANDF medical team, who have been deployed at state hospitals.

We hope this is the worst that can be experienced from the province of Onkgopotse Abraham Tiro, the leader of the South African Students Organisation assassinated in Botswana in 1974 for fighting apartheid. Tiro, too, would be disappointed.

Can President Cyril Ramaphosa and his team solve the current crisis, short of asking Mahumapelo and his team to resign? Can Mahumapelo change from being a deployee of the Zuma/Gupta machinery and become a servant of the people? Can he be sanitised? Many believe the man and his team are incorrigible, and that they must be removed from office if the ANC is to hope for re-election in North West in next year’s general elections. Ramaphosa cannot afford to take North West voters for granted and hope they will vote for known kleptomaniacs because they have been dressed in ANC robes. 

All state and government institutions are in tatters in North West. Except for the new statue of former president Jacob Zuma in Marico, there has been nothing new there except looting and more looting.

Unveiled in October last year – two months before his chosen candidate, his ex-wife Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, was defeated at the ANC elective conference at Nasrec in Soweto – Zuma brought no water to the taps in Marico, only a monument to himself.

Was he joking or humiliating the residents when he spoke to them? This is what he told them: “The building and maintenance of the heritage site has a greater potential to stimulate economic activity and create much-needed jobs in the communities of Groot Marico, Bahurutshe villages, Zeerust as well as surrounding areas in this province. It will also contribute towards cultural tourism both domestically and internationally.”

Crisis of water supply in Madibeng, crisis of unmanned hospitals with untreated patients being sent home, a dilapidating infra-structure: the list is endless. Supra Mahumapelo must go, and follow Zuma into retirement.

Comrade Ramaphosa, ANC members across the country are saying urgently to you: as a minimum, South Africa needs leaders who meet the requirements of the anti-corruption policy document, Through the Eye of the Needle. Deploy the best you have. Remember, there are only 12 months before the general elections. DM

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