The community of Mahikeng – including ANC members – expected nothing less from President Cyril Ramaphosa than to remove Supra Mahumapelo as premier of the North West by the end of today’s meeting.
People surmised that it would have been futile for Ramaphosa to have left the Commonwealth heads of government meeting in London early to come deal with the situation in the North West only to leave things unchanged and not meet their demands.
Ramaphosa’s arrival in Mahikeng brought a ray of hope with many people expecting him to “do the right thing and remove Mahumapelo as premier”.
READ: ‘Do the right thing; get us a premier who really cares’ – anti-Supra protesters
A member of the Revolutionary Council, a group that said its aim was to “save the North West”, said this was an opportunity for the ANC to show ordinary people that they listened to and cared about them.
“I expect the ANC to recall the premier and they must recall him as both premier and chairperson of the ANC in the province,” said Themba Gwabeni.
“[Mahumapelo] has, during his tenure, weakened the ANC ... he has been a very divisive leader, very evil in how he’s been dealing with dissenting views in the organisation here in the province,” Gwabeni said.
“He has, over time, rewarded mediocrity and sidelined highly qualified people. I expect whomever will be chosen by the ANC to take over to first establish a commission of inquiry to tackle the sea of corruption allegations. [Mahumapelo] must be thoroughly investigated so that this stands as an example that the ANC does not tolerate corruption and we must lead by example.”
Concerned ANC members were standing at the gate to Cooke’s Lake, where Ramaphosa would meet Mahumapelo, his ANC provincial executive committee as well the party caucus of the legislature.
Among them was Andrew Babeile, an ANC member from Vryburg, who reiterated the call for Mahumapelo to be recalled.
“I feel Mahumapelo has turned everything in the province into his own. There are programmes into which millions [of rands] were poured but later vanished into thin air with the community benefiting nothing ... we expect the ANC to do the right thing, listen to the communities and remove him,” he said.
Another ANC member from Top Village in Mahikeng who came to the venue, Obakeng Mokatsi, said: “We expect nothing but the removal of Mahumapelo by the ANC today because that is the only thing that will calm things down and quell fires. The situation could get worse unless Ramaphosa does the right thing; otherwise abandoning everything in London and running here would have been a fruitless exercise for all of us.”
The provincial secretary of the SACP and a former MEC, Madoda Sambatha, said action was highly anticipated from the ANC.
“Who’d expect the president to drop everything in London and come to the North West for nothing?” he asked.
“This is an opportunity for the ANC to show the community that when you have problems the ANC listens. The issue now is to protect the ANC and not an individual.”
It remains to be seen whether Ramaphosa will give into the protesting communities’ demands and whether the ANC will listen to its own members and remove Mahumapelo.
The community was waiting for the outcome of the meeting, which they said was key to whether they would continue with their protests.
READ: Mahikeng on tenterhooks as anti-Supra protests turn violent
But it wasn’t everyone in the ANC North West who wanted Mahumapelo out. The party’s women’s league released a statement yesterday affirming its support for him.
“We reiterate our position as the ANC Women’s League that we support Comrade Supra Mahumapelo as the ANC’s provincial chairperson and premier of Bokone Bophirima (North West). Unless he’s found guilty by a court of law on the allegations that are being made against him, Comrade Supra remains innocent to us,” the league said.