Natasha Marrian Political editor: Business Day

The ANC’s North West conundrum is deepening with the party’s provincial executive committee (PEC) moving to replace members of the provincial legislature (MPLs) seen as critical of the troubled premier, Supra Mahumapelo.

This comes in the wake of a pending motion of no confidence into his leadership.

According to a letter from acting provincial secretary Susan Dantjie, submitted on May 8, the ANC has submitted a "revised" list of MPLs to the legislature to be processed accordingly.

A list of seven names was submitted to the provincial office of the Electoral Commission of SA. This has been interpreted as an attempt to replace critical MPLs with the proposed new names.

The list was gazetted this week.

The move appears to be an attempt to shore up support for Mahumapelo, as a motion of no confidence looms. The EFF wrote to the speaker and requested that its motion of no confidence in Mahumapelo — which it had previously withdrawn — be scheduled as soon as possible.

The EFF had initially withdrawn the motion pending the outcome of a court bid to ensure that the vote in the motion be held via secret ballot. It subsequently changed tack and urged the speaker to schedule the motion having decided that the court process could be lengthy.

The opposition party has maintained that it has the requisite number of ANC MPLs on its side to ensure that Mahumapelo is voted out.

Earlier this week, Mahumapelo withdrew his initial resignation and instead opted to go on a "leave of absence", after a meeting with the ANC North West PEC. The PEC had instructed him to appoint an acting premier, to stand in for him while he is on leave.

Mahumapelo appointed fraud-accused MEC for finance Wendy Nelson to act in his absence, a decision criticised by members of the ANC and its allies.

The North West health and social development portfolio committee had brought charges of corruption against Nelson in April, along with Mahumapelo and others. This concerned allegations of fraud, corruption and maladministration amounting to R160m, linked to a medical service provider tied to the controversial Gupta family.

On Thursday, EFF leader Julius Malema told journalists that the party would approach the courts if Nelson’s appointment as acting premier were not reversed, as it viewed the move as illegal.