Ex-premier Supra Mahumapelo is out but not yet down

A social media user sees the lighter side of yesterday's announcement of the 'early retirement' of Supra Mahumapelo.
A social media user sees the lighter side of yesterday's announcement of the 'early retirement' of Supra Mahumapelo.

A new search for former North West premier Supra Mahumapelo's replacement has begun following the failure of his latest attempt to anoint one.

Sowetan can reveal that two days before Mahumapelo announced his "early retirement" from the premiership, his provincial working committee (PWC) sought to convince Luthuli House to choose one of three of his associates as the next premier.

At the meeting with the ANC's top six officials on Monday, the PWC initially argued that Mahumapelo should be retained as premier and, when they realised this was no longer an option for the national leadership, proposed three names as possible replacements. These were acting premier and finance MEC Wendy Lucas; education MEC Johannes Tselapedi and acting provincial secretary Suzan Dantjie.

ANC provincial deputy chairman Sello Lehari confirmed yesterday that three names were given to Luthuli House.

"We gave them three names and they said they will engage among themselves. The NEC will finalise the names this weekend."

But Sowetan understands that the top six is not keen on any of the names and the party has begun searching for a suitable candidate who would be able to unite the pro- and anti-Mahumapelo factions ahead of next year's elections.

Among those to be considered are MPs and other high-ranking ANC members who hail from the province.

Announcing his resignation yesterday, Mahumapelo said he was stepping down to clear his name amid allegations of corruption which include giving business to the controversial Gupta family.

"I have had a discussion with the national leadership. As one embarks on early retirement from the position of premier in the province it is my hope that all those issues that were raised which centred around matters of greed, crime and corruption will be attended," he said.

North West was thrown into turmoil last month when residents took to the streets demanding that Mahumapelo step down. Since then, the national government is investigating all allegations of corruption in the province.

Even as he stepped down, Mahumapelo remained defiant and claimed he was a victim of "counter-revolutionary" activities. "The counter-revolution when it rears its head revolutionaries must rise to the occasion. The organisation is going to attend to this counter-revolution. We will have to use the might of the organisation to attend to this counter-revolution."

He also said he will remain ANC provincial chairman.

ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule, a long-time associate, defended Mahumapelo's track record in office. ". You can't put the blame on an individual. You should say the ANC has failed people of North West because Mahumapelo is not representing himself."

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