The battle in the ANC over North West premier Supra Mahumapelo and the lingering support for former president Jacob Zuma that is rendering KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) unstable together mark the first big test for president Cyril Ramaphosa ahead of the 2019 national elections. The battle to remove Mahumapelo erupted into protests in the provincial capital Mahikeng last week, resulting in at least two deaths and millions of rands in damages to government and private property. Ramaphosa is already navigating a tense political situation in KZN, the province with the biggest ANC membership. The party in that province is deeply divided, and a large section of it is agitating against the removal and charging of Zuma. Zuma backers in KZN have reportedly threatened to vote for the ANC at provincial level and another party nationally in the 2019 election to "punish" Ramaphosa for axing Zuma. The party’s national working committee on Monday discussed Mahumapelo’s fate — but he is likely to prove diffi...

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