Supra Mahumapelo Picture: SUNDAY TIMES
Supra Mahumapelo Picture: SUNDAY TIMES
Image:

In a setback to President Cyril Ramaphosa’s campaign to clean up the party ahead of elections, a court ordered the reinstatement of Supra Mahumapelo as leader of the ANC in the North West.

The former North West premier, who was removed as provincial leader after violent protests over service delivery shut hospitals across the province in the first half of 2018, is a close ally of Jacob Zuma.

He was also part of the group that held a meeting with Zuma at the Maharani Hotel in Durban in September 2018, where a plot
to unseat Ramaphosa was allegedly discussed.

On Wednesday, the high court in Johannesburg set aside the decision by the ANC national executive committee (NEC) to disband the ANC’s North West provincial executive committee (PEC) on August 31 2018 and replace it with a provincial task team.

Mahumapelo and four others, whose legal team included EFF national chair Dali Mpofu, approached the court in November 2018 in a bid to have the NEC’s decision to disband the provincial leadership overturned.

Judge Fayeeza Kathree-Setiloane found that this decision was "procedurally unfair" and breached the ANC’s constitution, as well as the constitutional rights of the applicants. She found that the decision to disband the PEC had been unlawful and set it aside.

The decision to appoint a provincial task team was also declared unlawful and set aside.

Kathree-Setiloane ordered that the PEC, led by Mahumapelo, be reinstated within two days of her order. The judge said the ANC had failed to consult branches before disbanding the PEC and had not given reasons, at the time, for its decision.

ANC acting national spokesperson Zizi Kodwa said the party was appealing the judgment in its entirety because the ANC was a "legal persona" governed by its own constitution.

The NEC was the ANC’s highest decision-making body between conferences and did not have to consult lower structures before taking decisions on a "sound basis", he said.

Kodwa said the party was sending a rapid response team, set up by the NEC, to the North West to meet with the provincial task team and the reinstated PEC to discuss the implications of the judgment and the unity of the organisation.

Factionalism 

"The issue of the North West and the issue of factionalism in the ANC cannot be resolved by the court. It can be resolved through political engagement," Kodwa said.

The term of the PEC comes to an end on February 13.

He said the judgment must not become a distraction for the party, which was focused on winning the province once again in the general elections.

The ANC has been losing support in the North West over the last decade. In the 2014 elections, its share of the vote in the province dropped to 67%, from 73% in 2009. Its support dropped in the local government elections, from 69% in 2011 to 59% in 2016.

Political analyst Somadoda Fikeni said this was a complex challenge for the ANC and Ramaphosa. "It is surely a setback for Ramaphosa and the ANC, because when they are preparing for elections you’d have this [case], which, if not challenged, could embolden others to follow," he said.

quintalg@businesslive.co.za