North West edgy as Jacob Zuma meets Supra Mahumapelo
Former president Jacob Zuma has held secret talks with troubled North West premier Supra Mahumapelo.
Although Sowetan could not establish the discussion of the meeting, there was speculation in the province yesterday that Zuma had gone to Mahikeng to give support to Mahumapelo, who faces pressure from opposition parties and the ANC to step down.
Zuma was seen arriving at the Mmabatho Palms Hotel just after midnight yesterday with a motorcade of about eight vehicles.
By late afternoon yesterday, Zuma's motorcade was still at the hotel. Sowetan understands that Zuma also met Bishop Daniel Matebetsi, the priest who led a call to forgive Zuma following the Constitutional Court ruling on Nkandla.
Matebetsi initially denied that he met with Zuma. When asked further, he contradicted himself, saying there was nothing that was discussed.
And then he asked: "If it is true that I met with him, is there anything wrong?"
Sources in the ANC said yesterday that Zuma held secret talks with Mahumapelo.
The beleaguered premier, who is also the ANC provincial chairman, is a known Zuma ally.
Zuma's visit coincided with the "Hands Off Supra" march which took place in Mahikeng yesterday. The march was organised by suspended ANC Youth League members Sebanga Motlhabi and Wessels Morweng, who are believed to be close to Mahumapelo.
A North West provincial executive committee member said he saw Zuma at the hotel.
"I saw him when I was leaving the hotel after my meeting. He arrived in his eight-car presidential motorcade," the PEC member said.
Another insider said Zuma wants Mahumapelo to rally behind him when he appears in court to answer for corruption charges. "He wants the province to rally behind him in his case. Their strategy is to fight back."
SACP provincial secretary Madoda Sambatha, who was fired by Mahumapelo as public works MEC last year, said the party has been informed that Zuma and Mahumapelo held a secret meeting.
"The meeting was not an official meeting," Sambatha said. "The former president is no longer the president of the republic, so he can't meet the North West premier. He can only meet Mr Mahumapelo as a [private] person."
However, Mahumapelo, through his spokesman Brian Setswambung, denied meeting Zuma.
Yesterday, the ANC Youth League in the province, distanced itself from the "Hands Off Supra" march.
"We want to make it clear that some organisers of this protest action are suspended members of the ANCYL and are still serving their suspension," youth league provincial secretary Sipho Dial said.
"Our posture on corruption in the province is clear and it is not one that seeks to defend anyone who is alleged to be a role player in corrupt activities," he added.
The ANC Veterans League in the province has since called for an immediate intervention by the party's national leadership to restore unity.
The league's deputy provincial chairman Letlhogile Moseki said the state of the ANC and governance has reached its lowest levels in decades. "We must allow state agencies to investigate rampant corruption in the province," Moseki said.
"Those who are involved in corruption must be brought to book," he added.