Supra Mahumapelo insists that he is still popular among the people of North West and that he has the best plan to ensure the ANC improves its support in next year’s election.
People “resonate well” with him during his visits to the villages and only a small group of ANC members don’t want him to remain the province’s premier.
In an interview with City Press on Wednesday, Mahumapelo said his detractors feared that under his stewardship, the provincial ANC would do so well “that it would be difficult to justify why you must not retain certain people [after the elections]”. Mahumapelo had been expected to remain premier if the ANC won the province.
City Press learnt that the ANC’s internal research anticipated the party would receive between 60% and 67% of votes cast in the next elections, down from 83% in 1994.
“One of the plans that I am going to lead is to make sure that every street in the province has a coordinator who knows every household and their problems. We will use an app that will link us with every household in every street throughout the province, so that we can directly intervene if there are problems,” Mahumapelo said.
“So why take out people who have this plan? What is the better plan? There cannot be any better plan.”
This follows a month of violent protests across North West as residents demanded Mahumapelo step down. He says it is “worrisome” that the violence damaged the ANC’s brand.
“They are doing it deliberately to place the national ANC in a fix. So that they must be left with no choice but to say those who are leading now are in the wrong. That is why these comrades say they do not care.”
Mahumapelo said his detractors do not want to follow party processes in branches and regions and want to destabilise the province, saying that there will be peace only once he is gone.
“But why are people resonating well with Mahumapelo when he goes to the villages? Why is it a small group of ANC members that say they do not want him?” he asked, speaking about himself in the third person.
Mahumapelo said ANC headquarters Luthuli House has to ensure discipline is instilled. It should have acted as soon as his detractors resorted to violent protests.
“If it means removing them through structures of the ANC through a disciplinary process, you can do so. Now we have allowed them to do as they please. They can get money, buy people to ransack shops, burn buildings and the finger does not point at them, but at the leadership.
“If the leadership allows that to happen, that precedent is going to go all over the country.”
Mahumapelo claimed the party’s “disciplined” branches were on his side. He intends to travel across his province to visit these and tell them the truth.
My predecessors failed
Mahumapelo said residents’ anger is being fuelled by the failures of his predecessors. While it is his government’s duty to rectify these problems, he cannot be held responsible for the ineptitude of those who have come before him.
“For the first time, we came with a decision to use the minerals of the province to create capital to develop the province, like Botswana did.
“Now these comrades have been running this province for the last 22 years. The ANC would not be in these problems had they done these things themselves. They have been allowing the money to leave the province, to Gauteng.
“But now we are being blamed that we are not growing the economy. People must tell the truth and not manufacture and concoct issues.”
Mahumapelo planned to intensify basic service-delivery programmes to “change the mood” and focus on providing water, roads, housing, electricity and jobs.
On Thursday, he took leave of absence and appointed his finance MEC Wendy Nelson to act in his place. He had been expected to resign and moves were under way to ensure that former education MEC OJ Tselapedi took over.
But just hours before Tselapedi could be sworn in as a member of the provincial legislature, the ANC’s provincial executive committee reversed their embattled chairperson’s planned resignation.
Mahumapelo believes he has done a good job and has met people’s need for basic necessities.
“We are at 92% in terms of universal access to electricity and 89% on drinking water,” he said.
He claimed that the province came up with the visionary Youth Employment Service initiative in 2015 and that national government saw it was working and copied it, without giving credit where it was due.
He said that in Ventersdorp the provincial government had empowered people to own tuck shops and become “serious businesspeople”, something which had not happened in the province in the past 22 years.
On the lips of many on the streets of Mahikeng in recent weeks has been the question of how Mahumapelo managed to amass a string of private businesses, including the largest McDonald’s franchise in town.
Mahumapelo said those fast food outlets belonged to his wife.
“They make noise about McDonald’s. It belonged to Mrs Mahumapelo, not me.”
The business was established before he became premier.
“It takes more than two years to get a McDonald’s franchise. The poor woman started in 2011/12. She was a public servant for 22 years and she used her pensions to get a loan from a bank.
“She owes a bank over R14m, but people go around and say it was tax money that was used. They say Mahumapelo must go because he owns McDonald’s. Those are the kind of lies being spread about me.