Former North West premier, Supra Mahumapelo has weighed in on the ongoing war of words between President Cyril Ramaphosa and his predecessor Jacob Zuma.
Mahumapelo took the opportunity on Wednesday to address the matter as he appeared before the South Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg, where he along with other disgruntled ANC North West members were challenging last year’s disbandment of the province’s executive committee and its “unlawful replacement with a provincial task team (PTT)”.
Asked what his thoughts were on the sentiments expressed by Finance Minister Tito Mboweni and Ramaphosa, referring to Zuma’s time in office as nine years wasted and the subsequent response by Zuma, Mahumapelo said, “I wish both parties had not expressed such sentiments against each other”.
“It would be counterproductive for members of the party to go back to each and every ANC president from the past 107 years and re-evaluate their contributions to the country and the organization.
“President Cyril Ramaphosa’s term in office will also come to an end one day, either after five years or 10 years if he stays in office for two terms, and it would not be right for anyone to criticize his term in office in the same manner that Zuma’s term is being criticized,” said Mahumapelo.
Ramaphosa, while in Davos for the World Economic Forum last week, was quoted as saying the country has had “nine wasted years” under Zuma as he addressed potential investors. Mboweni, during the same trip, alluded to South Africa as being on a path of renewal and growth following “the wasted years of Jacob Zuma’s presidency”.
On Tuesday afternoon Zuma tweeted a link in which he dismissed the comments attributed to Ramaphosa and Mboweni.
Zuma said when ANC leaders criticised his term in office they are “pointing the finger at themselves”, in reference to the fact that Ramaphosa was his deputy.
Mahumapelo challenged the sentiments attributed to Ramaphosa and Mboweni saying he thought that Zuma, like any other former president of the ANC, had his highlights and moments of regret but this was “part of any form of leadership”.
‘Do or die moment for Mahumapelo’
The former premier of the North West was speaking on the side-lines of what some of his supporters termed “his do or die moment” as he and other North West ANC PEC members challenged their disbandment.
Representing the dissolved PEC, Advocate Dali Mpofu and Advocate Tembeka Ngcukaitobi submitted that the High Court should “set aside the decision to dissolve the PEC, set aside the decision to appoint the PTT, disband the PTT and then reinstate the PEC”.
The advocates also submitted that the ANC should also pay the costs for two advocates.
The basis for their argument was that the North West PEC was not in a state of disarray that was beyond that of other provinces such as the “Western Cape, the Free State or KwaZulu Natal”.
“There are reports that have been submitted that show that the state of affairs in other provinces is far worse than the North West, yet they have not been disbanded,” argued Mpofu.
He also argued that should the court find that this PEC was rightfully disbanded due to the fact that it was in disarray, then it should by extension also find that the ANC’s 54th conference, in which this PEC also took part in, was also invalid and hence the appointment of Ramaphosa as president is void.
Ngcukaitobi argued that the PEC was never informed by the ANC’s national working committee (NWC) of its intentions to dissolve the structure.
“At one such meeting,” Ngcukaitobi said, “the deputy president approached individuals overseeing the registration of delegates and instructed them to stop. This allowed individuals who were non-members to also enter, rendering the conclusions reached, which included the decision to disband the PEC, null and void”.
The ANC, through Advocate William Mokhari, counter argued that “the term of office of the PEC, should it not have been disbanded, would have come to an end on February 13 hence its reconstitution, should the judge deem it necessary, would not make sense as its term of office would be coming to an end soon”.
He also argued that due to the unrest that was taking place with residents protesting against lack of service delivery and asking for Mahumapelo to step down, the province would have still been placed under administration.
“This would have meant that, as the former North West PEC members have argued, the PTT took over their right to oversee the list process, and they would not have overseen this process as the province would have been placed under administration. The administrators and not the PEC would have overseen the nomination of individuals to represent the party in the provincial and national legislature”.
The court reserved judgment.
ANC must account to the ANC
Mahumapelo said his motivation to approach the courts was not because he is a politician who is focused more on self-preservation, “like some in the ANC”, but he was more worried about the party’s success in the upcoming elections.
He reiterated that the reason he and the other former PEC members had decided to take the ANC to court was in order to hold it accountable as it had gone about this matter the wrong way and was refusing to correct its mistakes using the party’s dispute resolution structures.
“We met with Secretary-General Ace Magashule and Deputy Secretary-General Jessie Duarte, but we are still engaging the ANC”.
He, however, revealed that there was no resolution that had been reached and added that they would like to put this matter to bed and focus on electioneering to ensure that the party wins the upcoming elections.