North West Premier and ANC chairperson Supra Mahumapelo can go ahead and wage his "aggressive legal battle", some of his stern critics have said, continuing to call for his removal from leadership roles in the province.
Mahumapelo announced on Wednesday that he would not be stepping down as premier or ANC chair of the platinum-rich province, as initially indicated. He would instead go on leave, appointing finance MEC Wendy Nelson as acting premier.
At the same time, an inter-ministerial committee appointed by President Cyril Ramaphosa to assess the state of his province, particularly the health crisis, was expected to report back to Cabinet by Wednesday.
Ramaphosa placed the North West Department of Health under administration as it had completely collapsed, with patients bearing the brunt of striking medical staff and a shortage of medicines for more than two months.
The premier's announcement shocked some, as he had given strong indication on Tuesday that he would be announcing his resignation as premier at a media briefing. This was later cancelled.
Mahumapelo has mostly remained quiet as a storm brewed around him and violent protests broke out in his province, as residents called on him to go. On Wednesday though, he hit out at several of his detractors following a provincial executive committee (PEC) meeting in Mahikeng.
These included the Revolutionary Council, which is a campaign stemming from calls to see him removed, ANC alliance partners SACP and SANCO in the North West, as well as numerous individuals in the ANC who he wouldn't name.
Mahumapelo has claimed some of these ANC members are working with opposition parties to divide the ruling party.
'It's just all so bizarre'
"Supra can bring it on. Tell him to bring it on," said the Revolutionary Council’s Lucky Kgabi.
He told News24 that Mahumapelo's decision to reverse a resignation he had hinted at on Tuesday evening strengthens the Revolutionary Council's point.
"He said by 12 on Wednesday he would be known as the 'former premier'. What happened tells us something happened between that interview and when he called a PEC meeting which he would chair as the issue of him, the chair was on the agenda. It’s just all so bizarre," said Kgabi.
Kgabi said the council had been asked to halt their protests and to wait for the national leadership of the ANC to deal with Mahumapelo. This followed a meeting with ANC deputy secretary general Jessie Duarte, head of organising Senzo Mchunu, president of the Veteran's League Snuki Zikalala and ANC manager Febe Potgieter Gqubule.
He said they had been assured at a meeting two weeks ago that Mahumapelo’s issue would be resolved by Tuesday, but instead they heard from the embattled premier that he would not be going anywhere.
"We are going to write a letter to the ANC, we need to express our disappointment in the outcome and [we are] seeking clarity on this issue," said Kgabi.
Kgabi added that they did not want to see any more protests breaking out. He insists the Revolutionary Council never advocated for violence and that they have already asked those who want Mahumapelo removed to remain calm.
A member of the SACP in the North West speaking to News24 anonymously, said he welcomed the latest developments.
"This is a good thing. The PEC has effectively asked to be dissolved through their act of defiance," he said.
The SACP member said people would not take to the streets as they can now see it is a national matter.
'It showed political immaturity'
SANCO’s provincial chairperson Paul Sebegoe, sharing his views on Mahumapelo’s attack on both SANCO and the SACP, said the premier’s comments were unfortunate and regrettable.
"It showed political immaturity and his lack of a background in struggle credentials. It’s just malicious to question the role of these two structures," remarked Sebegoe.
"The reality of the matter is that SANCO’s responsibility has to do with the protection and advancement of the needs of the community. The issue of the North West can’t escape that they are connected to the masses," the organisation’s provincial chair continued.
He said Mahumapelo couldn’t divert the responsibilities which fall on SANCO.
Sebegoe also sought to warn the ANC of its handling of the Mahumapelo matter.
"People cannot eat ideology. Instead of addressing issues raised by communities we are being ideological and philosophical but there are real problems here," he said.
Sebegoe said the focus in the North West had been diverted from being about the community to ANC matters.
"People have outgrown our tactics, in terms of how we respond to issues, one of these days they are going to revolt. What we saw over the past three weeks is nothing," said Sebegoe.
He also suggested that while the party battled over Mahumapelo’s tenure, it was best to place all departments in the province under administration.
"This [will] ensure professionals come in and take immediate responsibilities, make sure projects which were agreed upon are also delivered," he said.
A previous version of this story named Revolutionary Council member Lucky Kgabi as Lucky Diale
WATCH: Supra supporters interrupt ANC PEC meeting