Former president Jacob Zuma was spotted at a hotel in Mahikeng, North West, but it was not known what he was doing in the troubled province, where calls for the removal of Premier Supra Mahumapelo were seemingly intensifying.
While there was no much movement at the hotel except for bodyguards and police task force members sitting in the lobby, it is understood that Zuma met “some people” in the presidential suite where he is believed to have spent the night.
Zuma was said to have arrived at the hotel around 9pm on Wednesday.
Mahumapelo’s office said the premier, who is a known campaigner for Zuma and sided with him at the Nasrec conference, was not aware at all of the former president’s presence in his province’s capital city.
His spokesperson, Brian Setswambung, was quick to deal with any suggestions that Mahumapelo might have met Zuma, saying he was not in town.
“I asked the premier and he said he was not aware the former president was in Mahikeng. In fact, the premier spent his day in the Hartbeespoort Dam area, where he was launching a project,” Setswambung said.
Zuma’s convoy left the hotel after 2pm today. As Zuma left, a group clad in yellow ANC T-shirts marched through the town to the local police station where they handed over a memorandum of demands.
Among others, they wanted the police to investigate allegations of corruption against former MECs and other higher office bearers before Mahumapelo’s time.
“Those are the people who are today shifting the public focus and saying premier Mahumapelo is the one who is corrupt. If he was indeed corrupt, the premier would not have called for an investigation into all his predecessors and a number of MECs in his state of the province address,” said march organiser, Wessel Morweng, who also identified himself as an ANC Youth League regional secretary in Ngaka Modiri Molema Region.
“Those people are scared that they will be exposed. We gave police a list of their names and their alleged crime and corruption activities we want investigated.”
Among those Morweng named were former MECs who were now serving as members of the provincial legislature and in various portfolio committees.
He named at least three of those serving in committees that recently grilled officials over scandals including Mediosa – a Gupta-linked company dubiously awarded a R180 million mobile clinic tender – and also questioned contracts within the premier’s office in their capacity as committee members.
Thursday’s march by the pro-Mahumapelo group comes just two days after public servants marched to the provincial legislature demanding that Mahumapelo be removed as premier amid scandals of tender irregularities in several departments including his own office.
There was a group that tried to counter Tuesday’s march but they were dispersed with rubber bullets by the police.
The ANC in the province also expressed its support for Mahumapelo.
“What we will never support as the ANC is for some public servants to demand that our premier be removed as head of government. We applaud – as the ANC – the premier for his ongoing pronouncement against corruption since 2014,” the ANC North West said in a statement today.
“The premier must intensify the programme against greed, crime and corruption – which is part of the Setsokotsane programme – without fear, favour or prejudice. As the ANC, we are in full support of our premier and no amount of threats by the opposition will deter us from continuing to provide services to our people of Bokone Bophirima.”
Meanwhile, there were two ANC Youth League structures in the province.
The organisers of Thursday’s march called themselves the youth league while another group in support of Mahumapelo’s removal said they were the authentic ones and distanced themselves from the march organisers.