North West premier digs in his heels
'Cyril doesn't want to use a guillotine' to get rid of Mahumapelo.
Looting and rioting during community protests calling for North West premier Supra Mahumapelo to step down on April 18, 2018 in Mahikeng, South Africa. The revolt against Mahumapelo has resulted in the looting of shops and trucks being torched in the area. According to police nine people had been arrested. Picture: Gallo Images
As North West Premier and ANC provincial boss Supra Mahumapelo digs in his heels, ANC top brass appear to be avoiding a rushed decision that could backfire on them and incite further violence in the province.
Political analyst Dumisani Hlophe from Unisa believes that even if the ANC cites a legitimate reason to oust Mahumapelo, he is likely to resist.
“He does not strike me as a leader who would simply offer to resign should the need arise. He doesn’t convince me he is that kind of a politician. Rather, he appears as someone who would fight on until he is forced out,” the analyst said.
He said this was borne out by the fact that many ANC leaders deployed in government had no career to fall back on outside of their current political deployments by the party. They would rather fight hard to stay on than endure life in the political wilderness.
Perhaps buoyed by calls from some Zuma supporters in KwaZulu-Natal that advocate seceding from the ANC and establishing a new party, Mahumapelo was still adamant that he had done no wrong and there was no reason for him to step down.
Also, the party’s top leadership feared stirring up a hornet ’s nest by removing Mahumapelo, whose province, along with Free State and Mpumalanga and by extension KwaZulu-Natal, belong to the erstwhile premier league that opposed Ramaphosa’s campaign for the ANC presidency.
Another analyst, Mcebisi Ndletyana from the University of Johannesburg, said the ANC feared rushing to remove Mahumapelo or any senior member lest that play into the hands of his enemies who might have an obvious vendetta against him.
The analysts expressed doubt that there may be a particular force behind Mahumapelo ’s reluctance to go despite widespread calls for him to step down as both premier and ANC provincial chairperson.
They said the ANC was wary to give agents provocateurs a chance by removing Mahumapelo merely because of protests.
Hlophe said the delay to recall Mahumapelo, if it was to happen at all, had more to do with Ramaphosa’s leadership style of putting unity of the ANC first.
“Cyril doesn’t want to use a guillotine. He prefers to create an impression that any decision was consulted through the structures and that the final decision was from a collective rather than from him personally,” Hlophe said.
Also, according to Hlophe, with Zuma having been forced to resign before his term ended, Ramaphosa had to avoid being seen ousting one of Zuma ’s staunchest supporters, as that would give credence to Mahumapelo’s own claim that there was a purge of Zuma’s followers.
“Therefore, any move to remove Supra would play into the hands of those who accused Ramaphosa and his people of purging Zuma supporters. It would be detrimental to the ANC unity and renewal project,” he said.
Ndletyana said the ANC wanted to ensure there was a legitimate reason to fire Supra.
“As the ANC is a faction-riddled organisation, it wouldn’t want to remove someone because of protests,” Ndletyana said.