/ 15 June 2018

ANC turns down list of Supra acolytes for premier post

Not up to scratch: Luthuli House has rejected three candidates for the post of North West premier following the resignation of Supra Mahumapelo
Not up to scratch: Luthuli House has rejected three candidates for the post of North West premier following the resignation of Supra Mahumapelo

The ANC’s provincial executive committee (PEC) in North West will have to go back to the drawing board and provide a new list of candidates to replace former premier Supra Mahumapelo, after the party’s top six officials rejected the committee’s original suggestions.

The Mail & Guardian understands that, during a meeting on Monday, national ANC officials instructed the PEC to compile a fresh list after expressing unhappiness with the three names initially provided.

Mahumapelo was forced to resign last month after a protracted battle with the ANC leadership, in the wake of violent service delivery protests in the province. A staunch supporter of Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma’s candidacy for ANC president at the party’s national congress in December, he has since been seen flanking Jacob Zuma during the former president’s recent court appearance in Durban.

The three rejected candidates for premier are provincial secretary Suzan Dantjie, rural development MEC Manketsi Tlhape and former education MEC Johannes Tselapedi — all seen as being close to Mahumapelo. Their names were presented to the ANC’s national executive committee (NEC) in May.

However, ANC insiders told the M&G this week that Luthuli House had expressed unhappiness with the quality of the candidates and had instructed the 
North West PEC to collaborate with alliance partners to create a new list.

“Officials just looked at the names and said these names are not appropriate; they must go back,” an ANC national working committee (NWC) member said. “They sent them back and said the alliance partners and the PEC must send other names, which will be presented to the NEC on Monday.”

Last month, supporters of ANC president Cyril Ramaphosa reportedly submitted alternative names to be considered for the premier’s position. This list included South African Communist Party provincial secretary Madoda Sambatha, chairperson of Parliament’s environmental affairs portfolio committee Philemon Mapulane and PEC member Mmoloki Cwaile.

The instruction that the new list of premier candidates must be decided collectively by the alliance is understood to have followed a complaint by alliance partners who said they had not been consulted during the selection of the first three candidates.

On Wednesday, the PEC followed through on the ANC’s order and met alliance partners to discuss names of premier candidates, which have yet to be finalised to submit to the NEC.

“The meeting was highly cordial and productive. All the partners agreed that the meeting laid a very firm and good basis for more improved alliance relations in future,” the PEC said in a statement.

ANC spokesperson Pule Mabe could not confirm whether the original names had been rejected by the top six officials, but said the current talks accorded with the ANC’s instruction at the last NEC meeting.

READ MORE: North West residents still in the dark about new leadership

“As matters stand now in the province, they have got an acting premier and I can assure you that when we leave the NEC meeting, we will be able to communicate one message in terms of what needs to happen in the North West going forward,” he said.

Following Mahumapelo’s resignation, there were threats of a push to dissolve the North West PEC during the last NEC meeting. However, the structure emerged intact, although the ANC claimed it hadn’t had a chance to discuss the matter.

The NWC member told the M&G that the issue had been discussed at last month’s NEC meeting but that it couldn’t be finalised.

“A decision could not be taken because there was no report from the [NEC] convenor [Obed Bapela] in the province, the interministerial task team and the PEC. So the NEC could not make any decision without those documents.”

The fate of the PEC is expected to be discussed again at Monday’s NEC meeting, with some still holding the view that the provincial structure should be dissolved.

“The majority view is that they should be dissolved because they allowed Supra to do what he did. Because we hold the PEC responsible for all the shenanigans that happened there; we don’t hold one person responsible. That was the majority view [at the last NEC meeting],” the NWC member said.