Natasha Marrian Political editor: Business Day
Tough call: North West Premier Supra Mahumapelo’s future is in the hands of the ANC’s national executive committee, but factionalism is making resolution difficult. Picture: SUPPLIED
Tough call: North West Premier Supra Mahumapelo’s future is in the hands of the ANC’s national executive committee, but factionalism is making resolution difficult. Picture: SUPPLIED

Both stability and the ANCs electoral fortunes in the North West are at risk as the party battles to contain protests over the removal of Premier Supra Mahumapelo. The party’s national working committee (NWC) was on Tuesday locked in a meeting with the North West provincial executive committee to get to grips with the situation.

Despite days of mayhem, the ANC’s NWC cannot take a decision on Mahumapelo’s future. This is up to either a special sitting or an ordinary sitting of the ANC’s highest decision-making body, the national executive committee (NEC).

The head of the NEC delegation to the North West, Obed Bapela — who is seen as sympathetic to Mahumapelo — on Tuesday admitted the province’s electoral performance was a big concern for the ANC.

In the 2016 local government election, the ANC in the North West obtained an overall tally of 59% — a 15 percentage-point drop from the previous local government election in 2011.

At the centre of the difficulty in handling the Mahumapelo situation is factionalism in the ANC’s ranks, and former president Jacob Zuma’s backers, who are standing firm in support of Mahumapelo. The beleaguered premier has himself sought to blame President Cyril Ramaphosa’s allies for his troubles.

Bapela admitted that it was an "unprecedented" situation for the ANC. He also said that while the party’s election performance in the province in 2016 was a worry, voter turnout was higher in national elections — which could provide some reprieve for the ANC. According to Bapela, the situation was different from Limpopo in 2013 when the province was placed under the control of a task team. Before that, most of the Limpopo government had been placed under administration as governance had essentially collapsed.

He admitted that while service delivery is a problem in the North West, corruption was at the centre of most complaints against Mahumapelo. But these allegations were "difficult to prove", he said.

Meanwhile, police in the province on Tuesday confirmed that a 16-year-old had died during the protests.

On Tuesday, parliamentary committees asked the Treasury and the auditor-general to investigate whether the North West government had spent R100m on handing over "high value species" to private individuals as donations or gifts.

This comes after reports that in October 2016 Mahumapelo allegedly gave Zuma 24 cows and a bull as a gift, using R1.5m in taxpayers’ money.

marriann@businesslive.co.za

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