The repeated calls for North West Premier Supra Mahumapelo to step down are a clear indication that the violence in the province is politically motivated, says a political analyst.
And Mahumapelo is accusing supporters of President Cyril Ramaphosa of attempting to purge their opponents.
Professor Lesiba Teffo from Unisa said although the protests tended to be about service delivery, central to the residents’ demands was for Mahumapelo to go.
“This is political because the protesters are against the political head of the province. But let’s not forget that this matter comes a long way. It has been simmering for some time before the Nasrec ANC conference,” he said.
Mahumapelo claimed supporters of Ramaphosa were behind the protest and wanted a purge of those known to be loyal to former president Jacob Zuma.
Mahumapelo was part of the so-called Premier League that supported Zuma and battled his enemies when he was still in power. Other members were then Free State Premier Ace Magashule, now the ANC secretary-general, and former Mpumalanga premier David Mabuza, now deputy president of both the ANC and the country.
Mabuza has since joined the Ramaphosa camp and is believed to have influenced his supporters to vote for Ramaphosa at Nasrec.
Teffo said yesterday it was to be expected that those associated with the Premier League would suffer and there would be a demand for them to go.
“It’s not unusual that the losers are left out. The victors would always try to sideline the vanquished – and that happens in politics.”
But he dismissed any suggestion that the Ramaphosa supporters could have a large-scale plan to oust Mahumapelo.
“It’s a smokescreen to suggest that it’s a purge at this time, because people complain about potholes and poor infrastructure like roads, hospitals and clinics. There are other issues affecting [Mahumapelo] personally, such as allegations of corruption,” Teffo said.
Besides the direct allegations of corruption against Mahumapelo, an inference could be drawn from a statement made by ANC Youth League president Collen Maine last week that it was Mahumapelo who had introduced him to the Guptas, linked to state capture.
Provincial police spokesperson Lieutenant-Colonel Adele Myburgh said violence flared for the second day in Mahikeng and surroundings yesterday with a truck trailer burnt and nine people arrested.
Police twice had to fire rubber bullets and use a water cannon at the main Nelson Mandela Drive to disperse the protesters, who played hide-and-seek with the police around Mahikeng and Delareyville.
There were several incidents of looting of spaza shops, a hardware store and two supermarkets in Mahikeng.
The protests, which started on Wednesday, spread to townships and villages surrounding Mahikeng, where residents barricaded the roads and burnt tyres.
The protesters also demanded the hospital and clinic to close at Tswaing and Matshela Pad townships in Delareyville, while schools were closed.