The return of former North West premier Supra Mahumapelo to the top structures of the ANC in the province was a forgone conclusion after the governing party’s secretary-general, Ace Magashule, granted his request for a second chance.
But Mahumapelo, fondly known as the “Black Jesus” among his supporters, had his comeback blocked by the interim provincial committee, which also ejected him from a meeting at Luthuli House in February after Magashule had invited him to attend.
Mahumapelo, an ANC MP, resigned from the interim committee last September. So, the committee insisted that only the ANC national executive committee (NEC) – and not Magashule – had the power to rescind his resignation.
The committee’s coordinator, Hlomane Chauke, in a letter to Magashule on March 2, said Mahumapelo had to explain the allegations he made against the committee members at the time he left.
The committee’s nine-month term expired in April when the North West was scheduled to hold a provincial conference to elect new leaders.
However, the party leaders at its headquarters in Johannesburg had since extended the committee’s mandate because of the Covid-19 coronavirus national lockdown.
City Press learnt that Mahumapelo attended a meeting of the interim committee on the 11th floor of Luthuli House on February 24.
But he was sent packing because some members did not agree to his presence. Others wanted to defend him, but failed to persuade their comrades to let him stay in the meeting.
Before he left, Mahumapelo is said to have asked provincial convener Susan Dantjie “three times” whether she really wanted him to leave the meeting, a source said.
But one of Mahumapelo’s allies, who declined to be named, said he [Mahumapelo] was at the meeting only on Magashule’s instruction, “which he could not defy”.
“He is interested in pursuing unity [within the party],” said the person.
“But in principle he sees the committee as an appointed structure that has been imposed on the branches and was not even introduced formally.”
The person said it was strange that people who were not elected “opposed the presence and participation of another appointed member in a meeting”.
After Mahumapelo left, Magashule, who was in an office on the sixth floor, sent his secretary to give the interim committee members a letter confirming that he had invited Mahumapelo.
But Chauke allegedly did not table the letter, dated February 12.
In it, Magashule said he had received a request from Mahumapelo to return to the committee two days earlier.
“I have consented to his request to continue to be part of the interim provincial committee as per your request earlier,” he wrote.
On March 2, Chauke wrote back saying that after deliberations, the committee resolved that the NEC, “as the structure that appointed the interim provincial committee”, should deal with the matter.
The committee “humbly” requested Magashule to table the letter before the national working committee, which manages the party’s daily operations, for consideration by the NEC, the ANC’s highest decision-making body between national conferences.
In the event that the NEC accepted Mahumapelo’s request to withdraw his resignation, the province would implement the decision “with immediate effect”.
However, wrote Chauke, Mahumapelo would have to appear before the working committee of the interim committee to explain “the allegations contained in his resignation letter”, as well as the timing of his request to return.
Chauke declined to comment.
Those close to Mahumapelo said it was “nonsensical” to expect the NEC, which gave the party political direction, to discuss administrative issues that fell within Magashule’s authority.
In his resignation letter in September, Mahumapelo said the interim committee had abandoned its unity mandate and ANC members were being purged from their political and government positions.
Early last year, he won a court battle after he challenged the decision of the NEC to disband the provincial executive committee which he led.
The court ordered that the ANC should reinstate Mahumapelo’s executive committee.
However, the ANC later formed the interim committee, since the term of office of the reinstated executive had lapsed.