Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma has steered clear of discussing the future of the embattled Supra Mahumapelo as North West premier, sticking to the script during a media briefing on her team’s interim report on the troubled province.
Dlamini-Zuma refused to comment when asked by a journalist for her reaction to how Mahumapelo, who rallied behind her for ANC presidency in December, had driven the province into disarray, saying she was there with her government cap on and not that of the party.
“I don’t really want to respond to that question ... I was never backed by government. The conference was of ANC and not government [and] I’m here in my government capacity,” she said.
Once a powerful and influential politician in the province and nationally, Mahumapelo gradually lost control particularly in government after Cabinet took a decision to place his provincial government under administration. Section 100 (1) of the South African Constitution allowed the national government to intervene in order to prevent problems from worsening and work towards stabilising the situation.
Mahumapelo dug his heels in and refused to resign from his position as premier amid political and public pressure and continued doing so even after violent protests that were calling for his resignation.
It was the violent protests that triggered President Cyril Ramaphosa’s action. The minister in the presidency for planning, monitoring and evaluation was chosen by Ramaphosa to lead an inter-ministerial task team sent to in the North West to:
• Conduct an urgent assessment of the state of governance in the North-West Province;
• Advise Cabinet on potential risks facing the province;
• Provide Cabinet with a comprehensive report on the state of governance in the province. The report should advise on steps to be taken in respect of the task team’s findings, and
• Remain seized with the North-West matter until all critical issues were resolved.
Dlamini said they have already spent almost a week in the province where they met Mahumapelo, his members of the executive committee and heads of departments for two days. They met diverse stakeholders from business people, professionals to community groups among others before presenting an interim report to Cabinet late last week.
It was this report, believed to be damning and fraught with allegations of corruption implicating Mahumapelo in some instances, that influenced the Cabinet decision to place the entire province under administration.
While the ANC was seen not to have acted much to push Mahumapelo and appease the public amid calls for him to be removed, the invoking of Section 100(1) was seen not only as a way of stabilising thing in the troubled province but restoring the public’s faith in the government – and more so the ANC – towards next year’s national government elections.
Dlamini said that ministers would, this week, assess state of affairs in their equivalent departments in the province to determine whether the intervention should be 100(a) or (b) depending on the situation they found there.
“Cabinet will receive the report from the inter-ministerial task team reflecting recommendations from national departments on the application of the relevant section. The president will then write to inform the national council of provinces of the full nature of the intervention to meet the constitutional obligations,” Dlamini-Zuma said.
“The fact-finding remains work in progress, The inter-ministerial task team is still going through and verifying the information that it received in its consultations with stakeholders. This has to be a meticulous process that ensures that any claims that are made are supported by evidence.”
One thing Dlamini-Zuma promised was that heads would roll where wrongdoing was found.
“In areas were glaring contraventions of the Public Finance Management Act are found, the inter-ministerial task team was referring the matters to the law enforcement agencies for consideration of criminal prosecutions,” she said.
“We will work until we think critical issues have been resolved... The justice, crime prevention and security cluster is also looking at issues that might need investigation; [like] corruption. The cluster will investigate anything and everything that is given to them ... will then charge whoever needs to be charged.”
The minister promised they would not rest until stability had been restored to the province. She said it was obvious that “we’re worried and concerned” given the action by government on the province.
“The inter-ministerial task team would like to assure the people of South Africa that it is putting in place the necessary interventions intended to resolve issues and restore normality in the North West province as mandated by Cabinet. National government is putting together a capable team of specialist officials who will work closely with the North West executive to ensure better governance systems and improved services for the people of the province,” Dlamini-Zuma said.