At the end of the ANC North West congress the party expects to have adopted decisions – some controversial – that provincial chairperson Supra Mahumapelo hopes would set the province apart and maybe influence the ANC national general council resolutions.
In an interview with the Mail & Guardian on the sidelines of the party’s congress underway at the Mmabatho Civic Centre in Mahikeng, Mahumapelo said his province wants to get the ANC’s public representatives to sign an oath committing them to the values of the organisation and resignation forms that the party would keep safe for future use in cases of ill-discipline.
The ANC in the North West also wants to introduce provincial tax for mining houses extracting minerals in the platinum-rich province. Also, the provincial ANC would like to see the party synchronising its terms of office with those of government.
Mahumapelo told the M&G that because of the tendency within the party to haul the ANC to the courts when a public representative is recalled or fired for wrongdoing, his province believes committing deployees in writing is the best option.
“Public representatives will start by signing an oath first. Then all public reps must sign resignation letters without a date. The day you misbehave the ANC can then put a date on the letter and submit to the Independent Electoral Commission,” he said.
With the provincial tax that Mahumapelo said mining companies must pay – the second after the tax they already pay to the government – the North West would grant education bursaries and use the rest for enterprise development.
The provincial congress also needs to decide on the merger of some municipalities, in order to boost the non-performing, smaller municipalities. This is meant to improve service delivery and the financial health of local government, Mahumapelo said.
Mahumapelo, one of the longest-serving ANC leaders in the North West (he has been a provincial secretary before) has been accused by some of his detractors of dictatorship, something that they said resulted in candidates on a slate that was meant to contest his leadership, withdrawing their candidacy in a build-up to this weekend’s congress.
Mahumapelo’s slate was elected to the top five leadership unopposed on Friday night. Those who initially had their own list of candidates to compete with the now newly-elected leadership, accuse Mahumapelo and his secretary Dakota Legoete of manipulation branch audits and delegates registration to make sure the opposing slate did not garner enough nominations.
Mahumapelo is a shrewd politician who has mastered the art of defeating his opponents by getting rank and file members behind him. When his PEC was dissolved by the national leadership in July 2009 (he was then provincial secretary), he started afresh by being a branch chairperson and worked his way up to the provincial chair position in February 2011. “I’m a very humble person,” he told the M&G. “I seldom speak at PEC meetings, I only speak at the end. My phone is open 24 hours and people call and send messages”.
He used as an example of the decision to lift a three-year suspension of former provincial secretary and his political nemesis Kabelo Mataboge. “I helped him talk to the PEC and the national leadership to lift his suspension. How can I do this to someone who disagrees with me when I’m a dictator?” Mahumapelo asked.
Him and Mataboge had formed an uneasy coalition to win the 2011 conference, at the time the province was too polarised to guarantee any slate victory. He said ANC members knew the channels to follow if they were unhappy with how branch general meetings were conducted. “If you’re not happy with how things are proceeding you must raise your matter there. It will be signed by the chairperson and secretary and then go to a dispute resolution committee,” he said.
He however said unhappy members could escalate their grievances further, with the provincial executive committee and the national executive committee. “They also have the right to petition conference. If you decide to keep quiet then ngwana yo o sa leleng o swela tharing (if you do not speak out you won’t get help). Maybe in our political education we need to teach people about grievance procedures”.
The North West provincial congress ends today.