The ANC might not have made a final decision on the future of North West Premier Supra Mahumapelo, but this has not stopped informal lobbying for his position, with five names already doing the rounds as possible successors.A decision on Mahumapelo is expected after a meeting of the national executive committee, due in May.City Press has learnt that while he is resisting pressure to quit, Mahumapelo has been trying to influence the choice of his successor. A source close to the ANC in the province said Mahumapelo held a meeting with two female MECs and a district municipality mayor, and discussed how one of them should be well placed to be considered for premier on his exit.His fellow party members believe he was hoping the party would go for a female premier as it did in the Free State to fill Ace Magashule’s shoes. The other worry was that the Mahumapelo-led ANC provincial executive committee (PEC) might have no input to make if it is disbanded; one of the things the party was apparently considering when trying to rebuild the highly fragmented organisation in the North West.“Our greatest wish is for whoever is appointed to be someone focused and not close to [Mahumapelo]. It is clear he’d prefer to be replaced by someone he can still have influence on and that’s not what we want,” said an ANC member of the provincial legislature.Provincial chairperson of the SA Communist Party (SACP) and former MEC Madoda Sambatha said the party was expecting the ANC to appoint someone “who knows exactly what the problems are”.“There are such people in the legislature. As the SACP, we don’t want to be seen to be pushing for Mahumapelo’s removal and quickly say who should replace him ... we have made it clear that he should go but we expect the ANC to give us someone who will represent us and our views as well,” he said.The three women candidates are local government MEC Fenny Gaolaolwe, agriculture MEC Manketsi Tlhape and Bojanala mayor Fetsang Mokati.Three of Mahumapelo’s political detractors – Mmoloki Cwaile, an ANC PEC member; Philemon Mapulane, who chairs the portfolio committee on environmental affairs; and former MEC China Dodovu – are also under consideration.Cwaile was suspended from the troubled provincial health department where he was a director. Last year Cwaile was seen as the only black sheep in the PEC as he openly campaigned for Cyril Ramaphosa at the Nasrec conference.Dodovu, a former local government MEC and deputy chairperson of the ANC in the province, is one of those known to have political differences with Mahumapelo. He has written a few open letters to Mahumapelo criticising his leadership in government and within the ANC.Mapulane has also been cracking the whip on Mahumapelo’s government in his capacity as a parliamentary committee chairperson in the wildlife donation scandal in which more than R100m worth of game was awarded by the province to a few individuals, some of whom are known to be close to Mahumapelo.“It is not going to be easy though. Most of the people in government have got their own skeletons ... most of the names that are coming up will possibly be opposed, based on one or two scandals,” said an ANC provincial legislator.“Removing Mahumapelo is already hard for the ANC but finding someone to fill his shoes might be even harder. There are a lot of ambitious people out there who are already lobbying through influential people.”The last time a North West premier was removed was in 2010 when Maureen Modiselle lost favour with many in the party amid infighting and the ANC had to step in.The party replaced Modiselle with Thandi Modise, who had been its deputy secretary-general. It remains to be seen where the ANC will look to this time for the North West’s much-needed premier who will be expected not only to lead the province but also help the party regain confidence from the communities ahead of next year’s elections.The weakened Mahumapelo’s position moved from bad to worse this week after the central government clipped his wings and Luthuli House went to ground to listen to both sides of the story. A strong view that Mahumapelo should resign and the provincial ANC be disbanded persisted during discussions in the ANC national working committee earlier in the week but his supporters fought back, citing the need for the committee to go on a fact-finding mission before taking any final decision.On Wednesday President Cyril Ramaphosa placed not only the ailing provincial health department under administration but also the provincial treasury, underscoring that future decisions on government spending will be made in Pretoria and not in Mahikeng – a move that Mahumapelo welcomed only two days later on Friday.Mahumapelo has been hammered on several fronts, with the provincial SACP secretary Smuts Matshe writing to the ANC officials on Sunday to support the view that Luthuli House should axe the premier and that “an inclusive team be appointed to prepare for the 2019 elections”.The SACP seven-page letter listed 14 grounds on which Mahumapelo should be fired, ranging from organising and coordinating hooligans to attack his opponents, championing the Guptas’ business interests in the province and enabling corporate state capture, running a parallel government and tolerating or defending corruption.