In an impromptu media briefing on Thursday, Mokgoro tendered his resignation after he refused to step aside until he had been granted an audience with the president.
“Yesterday I met with the president and I will submit my resignation to the Speaker of the North West province,” he said on Thursday.
While Mokgoro has resigned as the premier, he has indicated to the interim provincial committee (IPC) that he will not resign as a member of the legislature. Should Mokgoro not resign, the IPC will have to go back to the drawing board to convince one member of the ANC legislature to resign. Bushy Maape, whom the ANC has chosen to replace Mokgoro, is not a member of the legislature.
During the virtual announcement, Mokgoro said he took a considered decision not to leave office in a “stampede”, forced out in haste for no reason. “A hasty departure from office may have been preferred politically but would not have been in the interest of the North West people,” Mokgoro said.
One provincial leader told the M&G that Ramaphosa had initially refused to meet with Mokgoror but was later persuaded by the IPC.
Last week Mokgoro gave an ultimatum to the deputy secretary general Jessie Duarte that he would only resign after Ramaphosa granted him an audience.
Several sources in the North West told the M&G that the IPC was scrambling to convince the ANC legislature caucus that Maape should replace Mokgoro as premier.
This they did without informing Mokgoro first that he had been axed as head of the provincial executive council.
The M&G previously reported that Mokgoro made his feelings known during a meeting with Duarte last week. The M&G now understands that national working committee member Dakota Legoete was also in the meeting.
An ANC national executive committee (NEC) member in the Ramaphosa circle said the president previously saw “no need to meet with Mokgoro because the decision was made”.
“The president is very busy and he can’t be held at ransom by one man. A decision has been made and he must abide by it. This is very frustrating to the president,” the NEC member said.
Mokgoro placed his reliance on a divided caucus which has raised reluctance to vote in Maape.
Two ANC leaders in the North West say that the IPC headed by coordinator Hlomane Chauke was failing to convince caucus members that Maape is the right man for the job.
Had Mokgoro stalled the process for much longer, the IPC planned to instruct the caucus to vote against him in a motion of no confidence, however this plan has been thwarted as Chauke has fallen out of favour with some caucus members.
The ANC once relied on this strategy when former president Jacob Zuma refused to resign as state president in 2018 shortly after Ramaphosa was elected at the Nasrec conference.
Much like in the North West, members of the ANC’s parliamentary caucus loyal to Zuma refused to vote against the then president but the ANC leaders strong-armed the caucus into submission.
“It’s a divided caucus and the IPC has no control. Half the caucus feels that due process was not followed. It’s too late to change the composition of the caucus now. We will only be able to change our MPl [member of the provincial legislature] list in a year. This places the IPC in a very precarious position,” one provincial leader said.
The other provincial leader added that some caucus members are disgruntled over the IPC’s suspension of Mokgoro.
Those sympathetic to Mokgoro have blamed Chauke for the way in which Mokgoro was suspended from the party.
The IPC suspended Mokgoro’s ANC membership in December for allegedly voting with the Democratic Alliance in the legislature in defiance of his party leadership. A disciplinary process has started in this regard.
Another insider said that even if Mokgoro resigns, two other members on the party list must also resign.
“That’s Dr Mpho Motlhabane and Wendy Nelson. Wendy was next on the list but couldn’t get in after the passing of Gordon Kegakilwe as she was busy with her case of fraud that might come to an end this month… The last option is for all 33 members to resign, replenish the list by putting Bushy as number on the list, then others follow. Can they all resign? No, they don’t trust Chauke that he will bring them back immediately after resigning. Even if [they] all resign, the Electoral Act only allows the review to be done annually,” another ANC heavyweight said, adding that the provincial list was replenished last year in October when Lena Miga was sworn in.
“So, it’s a complex issue,” they said.
The M&G recently reported that Mokgoro told Duarte that he had been treated unfairly and that the only time the IPC had attempted to reach out to him was via WhatsApp or through messages to his personal assistant.
“He asked the [deputy secretary general] why he was blamed for the collapse of municipalities in the province when municipalities were in crisis before he took office. He said to her, ‘How is it possible that people are saying they have been submitting reports to Luthuli House for the past 10 months, you discuss all these issues without giving me a chance to come and present my side of the story? The simple process of natural justice should have applied’,” one source said.
Maape is understood to be a compromise candidate acceptable to both Mahumapelo’s supporters and the IPC, which was appointed by Luthuli House after Mahumapelo was recalled in 2018.
The party insiders, however, told M&G that some provincial heavyweights are viewing Maape’s appointment as a reward for his alleged involvement in Mahumapelo’s axing and for his alliance to Ramaphosa during his campaign for the position of ANC president.