Update at 20:38When it was clear that the ANC's preferred premier candidate, Bushy Maape, was not going to take the helm of the provincial government after Job Mokgoro's resignation, an acting premier for North West was appointed on Thursday.
Finance MEC Motlalepula Rosho, who was in the race for the position of premier, was sworn in as the acting premier on Thursday afternoon.
Maape had, according to the ANC, emerged as the best candidate after interviews and was announced as the premier elect last Tuesday, but more than a week later, he had still not been able to move into his new office.
Due to various processes, it might take some time once a vacancy is created by the resignation of any member of the provincial legislature for the ANC to get its list with the IEC replenished and add Maape to it.
North West government spokesperson Brian Setswambung said the executive council convened earlier on Thursday to designate one of them to the position of premier, and Rosho was elected and sworn in almost immediately thereafter.
Earlier on Thursday
North West premier elect Bushy Maape still can’t start work in his new role as the head of the provincial government, despite Job Mokgoro resigning as premier earlier on Thursday.
The provincial legislature has confirmed that Mokgoro has only resigned as premier, and not as a member of the provincial legislature, which would have paved the way for Maape to take over as per ANC instructions.
Maape has been waiting on the sidelines for Mokgoro to leave for more than a week. A vacancy would have been created in the legislature by someone resigning as a member of the provincial legislature, and that’s what was expected of Mokgoro, but the former premier seemed not to want a smooth transition for the governing party.
This could lead to a longer wait for Maape as the ANC explores other ways of creating a vacancy for him. It remains to be seen if Mokgoro will give in, or if someone else will be asked to make way for Maape.
Others have been wondering if the ANC would consider putting Maape’s appointment on hold, and allowing processes for the new premier’s name to come from the ANC caucus in the legislature.
“There are a few new faces that can be expected as new MECs under Maape. Some of them will be those from the National Assembly, swapped with some of the current MECs. There were fears that some of the ANC caucus members could vote with the opposition for someone who would assure them they won’t lose their jobs as MECs – this is one scenario that the ANC is worried about,” a source said.
This was reiterated by at least two members of the ANC caucus.
“We are hoping to be summoned soon by the interim provincial committee to update us on the way forward and give us strict instructions, but they can only hope and pray that everyone follows them,” one source said.
Meanwhile, the public has been left to guess what Mokgoro discussed with President Cyril Ramaphosa on Wednesday before he announced his resignation on Thursday.
Mokgoro was expected to have resigned earlier last week, after the ANC announced Maape as the successful candidate after interviews were conducted by Luthuli House.
Mokgoro, however, remained defiant and criticised the ANC North West interim provincial committee for “prematurely” announcing Maape as his successor before other processes, such as getting him to agree to vacate the positions of both premier and member of the provincial legislature and having the latter declared vacant, were completed.
On Thursday, Mokgoro told the media that he had decided to “refuse to leave the office in stampede, forced out in haste for no reason”.
Mokgoro was appointed premier in June 2018, taking over from Supra Mahumapelo, who was forced to resign at the height of violent protests and calls for his removal as premier.
Mokgoro took over and led the provincial government with half of its departments, including his own office, placed under administration.
Just over three years later, Mokgoro had still not completely been in charge of the province, with five out of 10 departments under the direct administration of the national departments.
READ: Did Mokgoro do the job?
The interim provincial committee coordinator, Hlomani Chauke, said last week that Mokgoro “played his part, [having] managed to stabilise where he stabilised, but there were more challenges and, having done the proper assessment, the ANC came to the conclusion that we’d definitely have to get someone else to take over from comrade Job”.
Mokgoro, however, believes he did nothing that could have triggered a decision to remove him.
Addressing the media on Thursday, Mokgoro described the road he travelled as the premier as having been “bumpy”, and that his job came with “complexities, challenges, joys and ample sobering encounters of reversing the gains of both apartheid and corruption”.
He said he and his team:
Mokgoro expressed his “best wishes to my successor and his team”, and said his “door is always open for some pointers”.
It is not clear if he understood at the time that Mokgoro had not entirely followed the instructions of the governing party, but ANC spokesperson Pule Mabe thanked him for the “steps he has taken to accept the decision of the ANC as a disciplined cadre ... we will always rely on his wisdom to be able to strengthen and shape the government of the people of North West”.
Interim provincial committee spokesperson Kenny Morolong did not reply to requests for comment.