Supra man is feeling the Kryptonite effect from the ANC HQ
Supra Mahumapelo might be known as “Black Jesus” in North West, but some of his detractors believe that his tactics are derived from Sun Tzu’s The Art of War. Mahumapelo’s consolidation of power has been calculated and effective, sealing his support through patronage and mowing down opponents and detractors.
There is nobody who genuinely believes that his actions bear any resemblance to the Son of God, so the nickname is curious — in all likelihood self devised.
With his toppling as North West’s strongman now imminent, the conspiracy of silence over rampant corruption and maladministration has been lifted. Interventions by the ANC and the government have generated an avalanche of information about how the budgets of provincial departments and municipalities were used to cement Mahumapelo’s grip on power.
The tipping point appears to have been the dodgy R180-million contract awarded by the provincial department of health to Guptalinked company Mediosa, with
R30-million paid without any work done.
Recent public protests and the continuing strike by the National Education Health and Allied Workers’ Union has forced the national government to confront the crisis in the public health sector.
The extent of the breakdown of health services is alarming, but until the politics exploded, the situation was disregarded.
The crisis has reached deadly proportions. The disruption in the provision of antiretroviral drugs means that people default on their treatment regimen. Emergency services have been dysfunctional for months.
Ambulances left parked
According to one civil society leader, ambulances donated by a mining company in Rustenburg to the health department have been left parked because the provincial government has not allocated petrol cards.
The cabinet’s decision to invoke the constitution to take over the running of the department means Mahumapelo’s control of the province is slowly being wrested away.
An interministerial task team is to present a report on the situation to the cabinet next week. This could lead to an expanded intervention by the central government to stabilise the province.
Politically, the edifice is cracking.
The EFF’s intention to pass a motion of no confidence against the premier has led to Mahumapelo’s support base buckling under pressure from, among others, the ANC’s alliance partners and from within the party.
Some of Mahumapelo’s appointments in the government and former allies in the ANC have noticed the tide turning and are trying to save themselves, to the extent of confessing to national leaders about the rot and how Gupta money was used to consolidate the premier’s support.
The evolution of Mahumapelo to the sole wielder of power in North West is symptomatic of the ebb and flow of factional battles in the ANC, and how national leaders help to create monsters who then become difficult to dislodge.
North West has peculiar dynamics, one of which is that it has always been difficult to identify strong ANC leadership in the province. Perhaps it is its proximity to Gauteng that led to people gravitating from it, or that the province is not a prized jewel.
Even in 1994 it was difficult for the ANC to find a strong identifiable leader in the province and therefore it decided to deploy Popo Molefe from Gauteng as the first premier. He served in the position for
Among Mahumapelo’s defences now is that he is being targeted because he is trying to ensure that government contracts are awarded to people in North West. He claims that Gauteng and Limpopo political and business networks benefiting from contracts in North West are behind the challenge to his leadership.
He was tapping into perceptions that from the early years, North West has been an appendage to Gauteng.
It did not help matters when, in 2010, Thandi Modise had to be parachuted into the province as premier. She was ANC deputy secretary-general at the time.
Mahumapelo rose to power a year later when he was elected as ANC chairman in the province, with the backing of then president Jacob Zuma and then secretary-general Gwede Mantashe.
This seemed curious because Mahumapelo was at first not a Zuma man.
As ANC provincial secretary in North West from 2005, Mahumapelo backed Thabo Mbeki’s campaign for a third term at the 2007 Polokwane conference.
He was wooed by the Zuma camp to help the former president’s campaign for reelection in 2012. Mantashe, at the time still Zuma’s right-hand man, managed the North West conference so that Modise could be displaced as premier.
At that 2011 conference, China Dodovu was elected as Mahumapelo’s deputy and Kabelo Mataboge became provincial secretary. By the next year, in the run-up to the ANC’s Mangaung conference, the North West ANC was at war.
Dodovu and Mataboge were in the faction supporting the campaign for Kgalema Motlanthe to replace Zuma as ANC leader, and Mahumapelo’s mission was to crush them.
Mataboge was suspended on the eve of the conference and later Dodovu was charged for the murder of former North West official Obuti Chika.
With his two main opponents out of the way, Mahumapelo had free rein in the province.
Sun Tzu could not have scripted it better. There were attempts on Mataboge’s life, which raised suspicions that Mahumapelo was also employing more sinister tactics against his rivals.
But there has been no clear evidence of his hand in attacks against whistleblowers and opponents.
In 2014 he became premier and was able to seize full control of the government. From provincial departments to municipalities, Mahumapelo controlled the appointments of senior officials so that he had a direct line to them and to their budgets.
When the “premier league” assembled around Zuma, Mahumapelo was able to use his province as a lobby base. It was his idea, for example, that Zuma’s term as ANC leader be extended beyond December 2017 so that the state and ANC terms of office aligned. The idea never gained traction nationally, but he maintained North West as Zuma’s stronghold, even erecting a monument in the former president’s honour in Groot Marico.
When the commission of inquiry into state capture begins, Mahumapelo’s relationship with the Gupta family stands to be exposed.
Already ANC Youth League leader Collen Maine has made a public confession that it was Mahumapelo who introduced him to the family.
It is understood that some members of the provincial executive committee in North West are now willing to come forward to tell how they too were led into the Guptas’ lair by Mahumapelo.
He would perhaps have remained untouchable had the Zuma camp prevailed at the December elective conference and if Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma had become president instead of Cyril Ramaphosa.
In an ironic twist, Dlamini-Zuma now heads the ministerial task team dispatched to North West to evaluate the extent of the crisis; it will be responsible for wresting control from Mahumapelo.
Mahumapelo is hanging on to power, resisting pressure, including from the ANC national working committee and Ramaphosa, to step down.
Those who are still defending Mahumapelo, including ANC secretarygeneral Ace Magashule, argue that dislodging him will affect the party’s support base in the province so close to the 2019 elections.
This is the same argument used in the attempts to save Zuma from being recalled. It did not work for Zuma, and in all likelihood it will not save Mahumapelo.
He is facing an onslaught on multiple fronts and his chances of survival are minimal.
The time is up for North West’s selfproclaimed messiah.