The North West is, apart from platinum mining, an economic lightweight. It does not have population heft through concentrated metropolitan clusters and there is little to no manufacturing presence. The area is largely rural and hugely impoverished, depends almost entirely on agriculture for its sustenance and seldom features in the news. Which is why decades of corruption and mismanagement in the province have largely gone unnoticed. Former premier Supra Mahumapelo was able to rule by decree. Tenders and government contracts were handed to friends without any intervention, and the North West hit the news only when people occasionally died from drinking the dirty water supplied by their municipalities. For a decade there have been half-hearted and sporadic attempts to fix problems. Section 139 of the constitution and section 137 of the Municipal Finance Management Act allow for an external administrator to take over local governance. In the case of the North West, this intervention h...

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