Mail & Guardian
Boost for Supra as conference looms
Controversial Ruth Mompati mayor Boitumelo Mahlangu survives third attempt to oust her
As the ANC in North West prepares to hold its elective conferences, backers of ousted chairperson Supra Mahumapelo have won a significant court victory in their bid to win back control of the province — and its municipalities.
Last week Ruth Mompati district municipality mayor Boitumelo Mahlangu, who had been fired by the council in a vote of no confidence last month, was reinstated by the high court in Mahikeng.
The decision is a boost for supporters of Mahumapelo, who was removed as chairperson in 2018, but hopes to become chairperson again when the provincial conference is held from 25 to 27 June.
Mahumapelo’s supporters also hope to win control of the ANC’S four North West regions, all of which are currently under curatorship, at the regional conferences, which will be held between April and May. Preparations for the regional meetings began last weekend, with a series of briefings with branch representatives from all four regions.
Mahlangu, a key Mahumapelo ally, had defied recall by the ANC’S interim provincial committee last year over the collapse of the municipality under her leadership. The leadership troikas of five municipalities in the province, all led by Mahumapelo supporters who took office in 2016, were ordered to resign by the committee, but resisted and eventually won the battle, with the ANC national executive committee (NEC) countermanding the decision.
In February the Ruth Mompati council sacked Mahlangu and replaced her with speaker Kgalalelo Sereko. The municipal manager at Ruth Mompati, Jerry Mononela, an ally of Mahlangu, was also placed on suspension by the council after Mahlangu was fired. Mononela was removed via a council resolution over an advance payment of R16million, which he made to a service provider in December last year.
Mononela also challenged his suspension in the Mafikeng court, which heard his application on Wednesday. Judgment has been reserved.
On the same day, Mahlangu, who was mayor when Ruth Mompati invested more than R150million in the failed VBS Mutual Bank, approached the court for an enforcement order after the council failed to honour last week’s ruling to reinstate her.
This is the third time Mahlangu has survived being removed from office. In 2019 she was placed on special leave pending a vote of no confidence — which failed — and was reinstated. Mahlangu then survived the purge of the five troikas — all leaders of municipalities that had made irregular investments in VBS.
The fight between backers of Mahumapelo, who was recalled in 2018, and supporters of party president Cyril Ramaphosa in the province, has been fought inside and
outside ANC structures. In 2018 the NEC collapsed the provincial executive committee (PEC), headed by Mahumapelo, and recalled him as premier in the wake of the collapse of municipalities and a wave of protest against his leadership.
The ANC appointed a provincial task team, but dissolved this after Mahumapelo won a high court challenge to the collapse of the PEC. The interim provincial committee, comprising Mahumapelo and his supporters and members of the shortlived task team, was then appointed to run the ANC in the province until it could hold an elective conference.
However, Mahumapelo’s faction is now seeking a court order compelling the ANC to reinstate them. The matter is yet to be heard.
The interim provincial committee has also collapsed the four ANC regions in North West, replacing
Mahumapelo-supporting regional executive committees with interim regional committees. The move has sparked resistance on the ground and a court application by the former leadership of the ANC Ruth Mompati region, which wants all four regions to be reinstated.
In the North West legislature, the fight between the factions has resulted in Premier Job Mokgoro, a Mahumapelo ally, and four other ANC MPLS voting with the Democratic Alliance against the ANC’S chosen candidate for chair of chairs. The ANC has suspended the membership of Mokgoro and the four MPLS and has charged them. Their disciplinary process has not been concluded.
North West ANC interim provincial committee spokesperson Mothusi Shupinyane said the regions would “develop their own road map to their conferences”.