Cyril's visit yields no quick fix for Mahikeng unrest

Premier's opponents hoped for more from president's visit

22 April 2018 - 00:00 By QAANITAH HUNTER and APHIWE DEKLERK

Critics of North West premier Supra Mahumapelo have expressed disappointment at the lack of concrete action from President Cyril Ramaphosa's visit to the volatile town of Mahikeng, describing it as just another listening exercise.
ANC MPL and SACP provincial leader Madoda Sambatha, who was at the closed-door meeting attended by Ramaphosa on Friday, told the Sunday Times he did not understand why the president had cut short his trip to the UK to intervene in the crisis in North West "when officials already knew what the problem was".
He said: "We thought he was coming with a solution. We would have not allowed the meeting if we knew it was going to be talks about talks."Ramaphosa cut short his attendance at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting to respond to the violent protests in Mahikeng, where he held a meeting with ANC structures, alliance partners and the party caucus in the provincial legislature.
Sambatha said Ramaphosa heard allegations of corruption against Mahumapelo from ANC MPs.
"We said the ANC must not underestimate both the intelligence and the conviction of the community. They must not undermine the community's ability to raise issues. People have these grievances. The ANC must solve it," he said.
Insiders said the mood at the meeting was tense but it largely rehashed issues raised previously with ANC leaders. Speaker after speaker raised concerns about the premier's association with corruption.The SACP, Cosatu, the South African National Civic Organisation and the ANC Veterans' League are said to have formally conveyed to Ramaphosa their view that Mahumapelo should be removed.
However, the ANC Women's League and Susan Dantjie, the acting ANC provincial secretary, spoke in defence of Mahumapelo.
One insider who attended the meeting said: "Other structures like the youth league were not allowed to express a view because they did not have a legitimate leadership in place. The view of the ANC caucus that the premier must go was also read out by Obed Bapela."
Bapela has been deployed to the province by the ANC national executive committee in response to the unrest.
The insider said Ramaphosa told the meeting he was committed to resolving the problems plaguing the North West.
Another person at the meeting said: "At the end, they said they will come back to us to further discuss matters after they go to KwaZulu-Natal next week. There was no decision taken. Only an agreement in principle that the ANC's national working committee and NEC must act."
The source said the meeting took matters no further than a meeting earlier in the week with ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule and his deputy, Jessie Duarte.
The growing demands for Mahumapelo's removal have generally not been accompanied by suggestions as to who should replace him.
A civic group in the province called the Revolutionary Council said it had been lobbying for former MEC and ANC veteran Zacharia Tolo to stand in as a caretaker premier until the ANC sorted out its problems in the province.But Sambatha and other MPLs who are pushing for Mahumapelo's removal said for now they were not concerned about choosing a successor.
"We do not want to tempt those who will say we are pushing a factional fight," said Sambatha.
A senior MPL who is pushing for Mahumapelo to be sacked said he had not expected that Ramaphosa would make a decision at the meeting on Friday.
"There has to be a process to be followed. That's how the ANC works," the MPL said.
"You must remember, not everyone wants him out. You don't want to create another problem while trying to solve one problem."
He said the party had to tread carefully because if Mahumapelo was sacked immediately, his supporters might stoke more violent protests.
"Imagine if Ramaphosa, after listening to all the reasons put to him, stood up and said Supra is fired, but his deputy [David Mabuza] then disagreed with him. You don't want to create such a situation," said the MPL.
Mabuza and Mahumapelo were both members of the "premier league" that supported former president Jacob Zuma.
Another insider said he had no problem with the process because Ramaphosa and the rest of the ANC top six still had to discuss the matter before presenting a report to the national working committee.
The Sunday Times understands that the anti-Mahumapelo grouping held a caucus meeting on Friday night to discuss the outcome of the meeting.
One MPL said she was happy that the ANC appeared to finally be taking action against Mahumapelo.
Deputy public protector Kevin Malunga has revealed that a high number of service delivery complaints received by his office came from Mahikeng in North West — a town ravaged by unrest this week as residents called for the removal of premier Supra Mahumapelo. Malunga said he had lost count of how many times he had visited the province to attend to service delivery complaints...

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