ANALYSIS | Supra Mahumapelo finally bows to pressure

Former North West premier Supra Mahumapelo announced his resignation at Luthuli House in Johannesburg.
Former North West premier Supra Mahumapelo announced his resignation at Luthuli House in Johannesburg.
Image: Tiro Ramatlhatse

Supra Mahumapelo is headed back to the political wilderness after he finally succumbed to pressure from the ANC to quit his position as the premier of North West.

His detractors within the ANC national executive committee are likely to push that the North West executive committee be disbanded.

Mahumapelo has been here before. In 2009, the Jacob Zuma-led ANC disbanded the provincial executive as it was deemed to be factional. But insiders insisted Zuma was merely punishing Mahumapelo - then provincial secretary - for leading a delegation that supported former president Thabo Mbeki at the Polokwane conference two years earlier.

However, he managed to manoeuvre his way into Zuma's inner circle after he was elected provincial chairman in 2011.

It was Mahumapelo, and other provincial chairmen at the time including Ace Magashule, David Mabuza and Zweli Mkhize, who delivered Zuma's second term in Mangaung in 2012.

Although then ANC deputy secretary-general Thandi Modise was premier, everyone knew who called the shots - the man referred to by his supporters as Black Jesus.

As ANC provincial chair, Mahumapelo had control of not only provincial government, but also local government.

He used his power to distribute patronage - and there are allegations that he also enriched himself in the process.

Mahumapelo cemented his position in the Zuma faction enough for the ANC to appoint him premier after the 2014 general elections. He then formed a strong bond with Magashule and Mabuza, and the three would influence not only government decisions, but their fingerprints are found in internal ANC election outcomes.

Mahumapelo was in firm grip of not just government, but also the public purse. He created a lot of enemies - as only those who sang his praises were allocated space at the dinner table. But he proved to be too powerful to push out.

In the meantime, Mahumapelo's influence in the ANC grew. His ally Des van Rooyen was appointed to the important finance minister post and, when he was removed, his province tried to have Brian Molefe appointed. Protege Collen Maine was elected ANC Youth League president while his other ally Meokgo Matuba occupied the influential position of ANC Women's League secretary-general.

This made Mahumapelo seem invincible. However, his faction's support of Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma sealed his fate. Skeletons started trickling out of the closet soon after Nasrec. His long-suspected links with the controversial Gupta family were made public.

Cosatu-affiliated union Nehawu also put pressure on him to go when its members in the social development department downed tools in January. Health workers followed - prompting some communities to join the protest.

Earlier this month Mahumapelo tendered his resignation - only to withdraw it days later. Yesterday, he announced his "early retirement". But as he has done so before, Black Jesus may rise again.

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