The fightback by supporters of ousted North West ANC chairperson Supra Mahumapelo has gained fresh momentum after the party’s interim provincial leadership missed the court deadline to prove its disbandment of the Ruth Mompati region in 2018 was legitimate.
At the same time, the disciplinary process against five Mahumapelo supporters, including premier Job Mokgoro, for defying the leadership in a legislature vote, appears to have been halted after they appealed to secretary general Ace Magashule to intervene.
Ruth Mompati regional secretary Kgabo Gaolatlhe and four other members — Kgotso Maine, Vuyo Ncobo and Boitshepo Sofuthe — have now approached the Johannesburg high court for a final order reinstating the leadership of the region, which was dissolved by the interim provincial committee (IPC).
Three other regions — Bojanala, Ngaka Modiri Molema and Kenneth Kaunda — were also disbanded by the IPC. The North West provincial executive committee (PEC) was disbanded by the NEC in 2018 and replaced with a provincial task team (PTT). The PTT was then dissolved by the NEC and replaced with the IPC.
Lawyers for Gaolatlhe have written to the high court requesting a date in March for their matter to be finalised and the order reinstating them to be issued.
In a supplementary affidavit submitted to the court, Gaolatlhe said that the IPC had acted beyond its powers in dissolving the region and that it had not received any authorisation from the NEC to do so.
Records from NEC meetings showed that while it had agreed to disband the PTT and replace it with an IPC, no decision had been taken regarding the regional executive committees (RECs).
“There is no NEC decision that was taken to disband the PEC. So, when Mr [Obed] Bapela [the NEC convener for North West] announced the purported NEC decision to us, he was acting in pursuit of his factional interests and not in terms of a mandate that was given by the NEC,” Gaolatlhe said.
The NEC had, he said, given the IPC powers to run the ANC in the province ahead of its elective conferences and help rebuild party structures. It could only make recommendations to the NEC regarding disciplinary matters and therefore did not have the powers to disband party structures by itself.
Gaolatlhe said that on 25 October 2018, the ANC secretary general had written to provinces, telling them to stop dissolving regional structures. He had also told them to reinstate the regions they had dissolved.
“The decision to disband our REC was simply unlawful in that it was taken by an entity or a person who did not have the power to dissolve it. The respondents have failed to produce a minute of the NEC resolving that our region should be dissolved. In the absence of such a minute, the dissolution decision is unlawful, invalid and unconstitutional,” he said.
An order in favour of Ruth Mompati region has consequences for the three other regions that were dissolved by the IPC, and for its plan to recall the leadership of 11 municipalities in the province in which governance has collapsed.
The IPC decision to suspend Mokgoro and four MPLs for voting against the party’s choice for the position of “chair of chairs” in the North West legislature last month also appears to have taken a knock.
Last week Magashule met with the IPC to discuss the referral of the five to the party’s disciplinary committee and confirmed that they had asked Luthuli House to intervene in the matter.
A source in the provincial ANC said while the IPC wanted the hearings held in a month, the process had now been halted.
“There is no [disciplinary committee] process taking place at the moment,” the source said. “Nothing will happen until the NEC has dealt with this. The IPC cannot go ahead with a disciplinary process until then.”
ANC North West spokesperson Kenny Morolong had not responded to calls and messages from the Mail & Guardian at the time of writing.