Residents in Montshiwa in Mahikeng took to the streets on Wednesday to demand an end to Supra Mahumapelo’s tenure as premier of the North West.
Tyres and buses have been set alight and roads have been blocked as protesters complained about the provincial leadership and service delivery.
Police spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Adele Myburgh told News24 that the protests erupted at about 6:15 on Wednesday morning.
She said fire services extinguished burning vehicles and added that pupils threw stones and blocked roads.
“Public order policing [units] are on scene and rubber bullets have been fired. At this stage, it is unclear if there have been arrests. Officers are still at the scene working.”
Voices calling for the premier, who is also the provincial ANC chairperson, to step down or be recalled have been growing in the platinum-rich province and many have been expressing concern about levels of corruption.
Last month, the Hawks raided Mahumapelo’s office in relation to corruption investigations in the North West.
Former North West MEC Collen Maine, who is now the ANC Youth League president, revealed last week that it was Mahumapelo who introduced him to the controversial Gupta family, who have been placed at the centre of the state capture project, and are accused of using their relationship with former president Jacob Zuma to loot the state.
“We are very concerned and disappointed about the situation which has now clearly gotten out of hand,” South African National Civic Organisation North West chairperson Paul Sebego told News24.
Sebego said he believed the protests were due to people’s frustrations with Mahumapelo’s protracted stay and the ANC leadership’s failure to intervene.
“The pace of the response from the ANC in dealing with allegations of corruption and maladministration in this province is part of the problem,” he said.
Sebego told News24 that there were also levels of uncertainty in the province, which have affected residents.
He called for patience and said residents needed to remember that the public property targeted by protesters would be needed long after frustrations with the premier had been resolved.
ANC national spokesperson Pule Mabe confirmed that members of the ANC’s national working committee (NWC) would meet with both the provincial executive committee of the North West and its caucus in the provincial legislature.
Some MPLs had told News24 they wanted to ask the national leadership to consider recalling Mahumapelo, instead of waiting for a motion of no confidence to be debated in the legislature.
The EFF in the North West asked for a motion against the premier, which was set for Tuesday, to be postponed, while they waited for the conclusion of court processes over whether the motion could be done by secret ballot.
“The ANC visit is normal, but once we are there, we cannot ignore the challenges facing the province,” said Mabe. — News 24