ANC leadership fails North West
When Popo Molefe quit as ANC North West provincial chairperson and premier in 2004, disgruntled party members penned an unofficial document called "The Eradication of Popo's Legacy", which accused him of causing factionalism, infighting and divisions.
Molefe was a member of an ANC faction called "Mapogo", composed of a loyal old guard, but another group known as the "Taliban" planned to purge them from senior positions in the government and party.
When Molefe's 10-year term ended, the Taliban, under the then leadership of ANC provincial secretary Supra Mahumapelo, took over the reins.
But little has changed, leaving President Jacob Zuma and his officials to restore stability.
The squabbling came to a head during a meeting in Potchefstroom attended by Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe about two weeks ago when a group of unruly. ANC members stormed the hall singing the praises of Mahumapelo, now the provincial chairperson.
Some of those present claimed the Mahumapelo faction had been bussed in to embarrass Motlanthe.
Fighting broke out when supporters of provincial secretary Kabelo Mataboge prevented them from entering and the police had to use teargas to separate the two groups.
At a hastily convened special provincial general council meeting in June, a decision was taken to remove Mahumapelo, provincial treasurer Philly Mapulane, deputy provincial secretary Gordon Kegakilwe, provincial spokesperson Kenny Morolong and provincial executive committee member Matthew Wolmarans from their positions, but the provincial executive committee argued their dismissal would be unconstitutional.
Mataboge's faction claimed Mahumapelo was behind service delivery protests in Mafikeng to discredit North West Premier Thandi Modise and that the protesters had been bribed with alcohol and cash.
Mahumapelo is said to have set his sights on the premier's position. He could not be reached for comment.
He is believed to be leading the campaign to support Zuma's bid for a second term at Mangaung in December, whereas Mataboge, with support from the ANC Youth League, is trying hard to rally the branches behind Motlanthe.
Although the branches held two separate meetings in June at which it was unanimously decided to remove Mahumapelo, ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe intervened on both occasions and deemed the decisions unconstitutional.
The profound divisions in the provincial ANC structures appear to have compounded service delivery problems and are thought by provincial officials to have played a part in the highly publicised killing of ANC councillor Moss Phakoe in 2009. Wolmarans, a former mayor of Rustenburg, has since been found guilty of the murder with his bodygaurd, Enoch Matshaba.
Releasing his annual report this week, auditor general Terence Nombembe said only two of 23 municipalities in North West had received clean audits.
Nombembe came down hard on the provincial authorities and said five critical areas had been left to stagnate: supply-chain management, predetermined objectives such as service delivery, human resource management, information technology controls and material errors and omissions in the financial statements.
"The local government leadership in the province does not take the message from my office seriously," he said. "A culture of accountability can only be enforced by a strong and committed leadership."
Although the ANC appears to lack the political will to resolve the issues, it cannot escape calls for the release of three key reports that should go a long way in dealing with the endemic corruption in the province and unmask corrupt ANC members.
During its provincial congress last weekend, Cosatu added its voice to calls for the release of the reports.
The trade union federation said it supported demands for the release of the Special Investigating Unit's report on its investigation of 23 municipalities and the forensic investigation of provincial departments.
Zuma signed a proclamation in November 2009 for the investigation of widespread financial irregularities in all the North West municipalities.
Cosatu's provincial secretary, Solly Phetoe, said the trade union federation also demanded the release of the report of the task team led by the late minister of co-operative governance and traditional affairs, Sicelo Shiceka, and the dossier that led to Phakoe's murder.
The first report into the infighting among ANC leaders was prepared by a task team led by Shiceka, which included members from both the ANC national working committee and the national executive committee.
The report is said to be lying forgotten at ANC headquarters Luthuli House while the problems it identified have led to the vicious struggles that pose a serious risk to the party's future in the province. It is understood that senior ANC officials had been tasked in 2009 to act on the report's outcomes, but nothing has been done since 2009.
The second report relates to a dossier prepared by Phakoe.
According to Alfred Motsi, Phakoe's comrade and fellow whistle-blower, Mantashe was sitting on the dossier, which implicated senior ANC leaders in the province.
This week Motsi said he and Phakoe had handed the dossier to Mantashe and he was surprised by Mantashe's claims that neither he nor Zuma had seen it.
Another provincial ANC leader, who was close to Phakoe but did not want to be named, said the slain leader had met Zuma before his assassination to explain the contents of the dossier. But Zuma had dismissed Phakoe's concerns because he viewed him as a troublemaker.
Rescued the ship
Boy Ndala, Special Investigating Unit spokesperson, said it had no record of the Phakoe dossier, although the unit was still investigating corruption in the municipalities.
The investigation into Phakoe's murder was initially blocked by suspended crime intelligence boss Richard Mdluli, the late Tsietsi Mano and General Ntebo Jan Mabula.
A proper investigation was launched only after the intervention of new provincial commissioner Zukiswa Mbombo, who set up a new task team to take up the matter.
North West police spokesperson Thulani Ngubane would not respond to questions about how Mdluli and other senior detectives had been able to block the investigation.
"All I can say that we salute our general [Mbombo] for her acumen in investigating the murder of Phakoe. She basically rescued the ship and reassigned the investigation to a task team because there was indeed tremendous pressure from Cosatu, the family and the community to investigate the matter," Ngubane said.
The ghost of Popo Molefe would haunt the province for a long time to come, one observer said. The ANC leadership had vested interests in North West, which explained its failure to deal with the events in the province.