The nomination and swearing in ceremony for newly appointed North West Premier, 70-year-old Professor Tebogo Job Mokgoro, was overshadowed by a dispute as the Economic Freedom Fighters demanded to see Supra Mahumapelo’s resignation letter before the proceedings could continue.
Mokgoro, who was elected after a special meeting of the national working committee held on Wednesday, was expected to be nominated and sworn in unopposed to fill the vacant North West premier’s position in the ANC-dominated legislature on Friday.
The EFF however stagnated proceedings from the onset, arguing that it was still unclear whether Mahumapelo had “resigned or taken early retirement” because the party’s members of the legislature had not seen the former premier’s “supposed letter of early retirement”.
EFF member of the legislature Alfred Motsi said the nomination process could not go on before “the status of Mahumapelo was made clear for all to see”.
“We have not received a resignation letter or early retirement letter to confirm that indeed he has retired. He has previously resigned and revoked the resignation; how do we know that he will not do that again,” asked Motsi.
The ANC’s Raymond Elisha challenged Motsi and argued that there were many members who had resigned and were replaced without all members being made preview to their resignation letters.
“We have already invited the judge president of the North West high court [Honourable Madam Justice Monica Leeuw] to preside over the nomination and election process so may we not waste her time. Copies of the letter will be made available to every member after the process,” pleaded Elisha.
A visibly irritated Motsi dug in his heels, arguing that the process could not continue without his party’s member being shown the letter.
His disorderly protests and accusations that Leeuw was biased were met with disdain by the house’s speaker Susan Dantjie, who called for Motsi to be ejected from the house after many efforts to get him to calm down had failed.
The nomination process commenced after Motsi’s ejection and Mokgoro was nominated unopposed as the new premier.
After his nomination, Mokgoro thanked his predecessor, who was sitting in the public gallery, for “what he had achieved”.
The new premier said the celebrations over his nominations should now come to an end because the real work had started. He expressed that he was well aware of the fact that his tenure was a short one given that he would be stepping down after the 2019 elections but assured North West residents that in that short timespan his administration would not be characterised by a “a bunch of elites” driven by self-enrichment but by the plight of the residents.
“The challenges of service delivery in the province are complex but I am committed to work with all parties. All public officials elected ... should embrace this commitment. And we commit to working tirelessly to restore stability and certainty to the North West province,” said Mokgoro.
DA members of the legislature elected to wear black armbands to “highlight the plight of neglected people of the North West”.
“We also want to pay our respects to the lives lost during the violent protests, which were ignited by an uncaring and arrogant ANC,” said the DA’s North West provincial leader, Joe McGluwa.
McGluwa also argued that while there was a new premier, “the province is still led by the same ANC, which collapsed this province and used the people’s money to establish an intricate and corrupt patronage network managed by Supra Mahumapelo.
“It is no secret that Premier Mokgoro is a compromise candidate, who has been tasked by Luthuli House to balance the interests of two opposing factions. One faction is led by Cyril Ramaphosa – the weakest ANC president in history – another faction is led by a friend of Jacob Zuma and the Guptas, Supra Mahumaphelo,” said McGluwa who concluded that this compromise was a recipe for disaster .
The EFF, the main opposition in North West, also called Mokgoro “a crony of Mahumapelo” and said he “will just be used to continue the looting in the province”.