Supra Mahumapelo has a date with fate
Embattled North West premier Supra Mahumapelo's future will now only be decided next month, despite ongoing violent protests in support of calls for him to be sacked.
Although the ANC national working committee yesterday met to discuss the unrest in the province, Sowetan understands that a final decision is unlikely to be taken soon, as the issue would now be the subject of the party's highest decision-making body, the national executive committee (NEC), when it meets next month.
The delay is as a result of disagreements within the party over the underlying reasons for the ongoing protests.
Mahumapelo's detractors say the protests are over the premier's alleged corruption as well as his government's poor service delivery record.
However, his defenders claim he is a victim of machinations by supporters of President Cyril Ramaphosa, who fear they do not stand a chance of being elected into public office if Mahumapelo is still in charge by next year.
In the run-up to the ANC's elective conference last year, Mahumapelo was one of the leading campaigners against Ramaphosa and was accused of sidelining party members in the province who were seen as campaigning for the then deputy president.
Now Mahumapelo's backers are claiming that those who campaigned for Ramaphosa are behind the spate of riots, and that they instigated the violence in a bid to force the premier out of office before the ANC begins the process to select its candidates for the elections next year.
"With the current situation, none of the pro-Cyril grouping will be in charge of government. So Supra should go so that they can take over in 2019," a provincial executive committee (PEC) member said.
Pro-Mahumapelo PEC member Lerato Teme said some forces want to overthrow the current leadership in order for them to access power. "We can't be held to ransom."
But another PEC member, Mmoloki Cwaile, told Sowetan of Mahumapelo supporters' plan to fight back, alleging the premier was "paying comrades to join night vigils in the province" to influence the ANC top leadership to retain him.
"His support has dwindled and, as much as he is a weak man, he is a danger as he seeks to cling to power at the cost of the ANC," Cwaile said.
Cwaile is one of the PEC members who openly backed Ramaphosa ahead of the elective conference in December.
Mahumapelo could not be reached for comment.
However, despite a strong campaign by the premier's supporters to fight back, two ANC NEC members told Sowetan that Mahumapelo would be removed as both premier and provincial chairman come the NEC meeting.
"We are worried about the upcoming national elections. The people of North West do not want him, so he must go."
ANC NEC member deployed in North West, Obed Bapela, told Sowetan that the party would not act hastily in removing Mahumapelo.