North West ANC chairman Supra Mahumapelo.
North West ANC chairman Supra Mahumapelo.

Embattled North West Premier Supra Mahumapelo decided to withdraw his resignation after realising that his chosen successor would not succeed him.

Senior ANC sources told Business Day that Mahumapelo met with President Cyril Ramaphosa earlier in the week and agreed to resign. They both agreed that former education MEC Johannes Tselapedi should succeed him.

But late on Tuesday night, Mahumapelo and his supporters realised that there was a move from ANC national officials to have Zakes Tolo take over.

"Zakes Tolo is a member of the ANC veterans in the province and is fighting Supra, that is why he changed his mind about resigning late at night," said a source. "In fact, he withdrew his resignation. You cannot have someone fighting Supra to take over."

On Wednesday the provincial executive committee (PEC) met in Mahikeng and took the decision to place Mahumapelo on leave of absence and instructed him to appoint an acting premier. However, there is no timeframe for him to finalise the appointment.

ANC acting provincial secretary Suzan Dantjie, who is also speaker of the legislature, said Mahumapelo was not under duress when he resigned on Tuesday.

"He did that on his own will. The PEC forced the premier to say he can’t decide to resign without us blessing that resignation," said Dantjie.

Another source said: "The ANC national executive committee including the national working committee never took a decision that he must step down, but NWC instructed officials to come up with a solution.

"He agreed to resign, but changed his decision because he cannot be replaced by someone who hates him."

ANC national spokesman Pule Mabe said he would not say the PEC was defying the ANC, but anything constructive in solving the North West problems would be welcomed.

The PEC is dominated by Mahumapelo’s direct relatives and trusted loyalists.

SA Communist Party provincial secretary Madoda Sambatha said the PEC does not have the authority to reject the resignation of a premier.

The National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union said the PEC should be disbanded if it fails to endorse the decision of ANC leaders.