Timing, in politics, is everything. So we have to wonder about weekend newspaper reports concerning North West Premier Supra Mahumapelo, whose son reportedly received a bursary worth more than R1 million from state arms maker Denel.
The bursary, for pilot training, was awarded last year for a flight school which is not on the list of approved institutions to which Denel channels bursary money.
The reports appeared just as Mahumapelo was preparing to fight off a no-confidence motion in him, being brought in the North West legislature and expected to be debated there today. Interestingly, given their political enmity in other parts of the country, the EFF and DA appear ready to stand together to vote against the premier on the motion, which was originally proposed by the EFF.
The facts about the bursary appeared to have been buried in the files of Denel and, now that Pravin Gordhan is the new minister of Public Enterprises (under which Denel falls, as a parastatal business), they have seen the light of day.
This is yet another indication that President Cyril Ramaphosa and his supporters are serious about rooting out corruption and those connected to the Gupta family and the state capture project. Mahumapelo has been linked in a number of ways to the Guptas, the latest being only last week (funny thing, that timing …) when ANC Youth League leader Collen Maine revealed it was the North West premier who had introduced him to the Gupta family.
Other reports suggest that officials in the North West government have put tenders the way of Gupta-linked companies.
Mahumapelo was, at one time, a staunch supporter of former president Jacob Zuma but his political fortunes have been on the wane since the Zuma camp was roundly defeated at the ANC elective conference in December.
His future looks uncertain, to say the least.