Supra man is feel­ing the Kryp­tonite ef­fect from the ANC HQ

Sunday Times - - News Power Struggle - RANJENI MUNUSAMY

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

10 years.

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.

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