Former North West premier Supra Mahumapelo may be down but he is surely not out and will continue to dominate the political stage in the province for some time despite his resignation yesterday, experts have said.
Still laughing and confident, Mahumapelo yesterday announced he was “embarking on early retirement” and that he was giving way for greed, crime and corruption to be investigated in his province.
With a smile on his face, Mahumapelo excluded himself from the graft that occurred in the province and instead pointed fingers at certain individuals in state structures.
He even described the recent community public service protests in the province and calls for his resignation as “counter-revolutionary”.
However, he said one of his new tasks would be to work for unity and reconciliation within the ANC in the province.
Several political analysts dismissed his “early retirement” statement as one of his rhetorical gimmicks because no law provides for politicians to take early retirement.
It was part of his attempt to bluff people and keep them guessing about his real intention, they claim.
“There is no such thing as early retirement in an elected office. He was trying to be either funny or clever,” said Steven Friedman, a political analyst.
This view was echoed by constitutional expert Pierre de Vos, who said in terms of the law early retirement did not exist for elected officials.
“If you are elected, you get your pension depending on time you served in the legislature. There is no provision for early retirement in law. As an elected representative you either resign and go or get redeployed or moved aside,” De Vos said.
Another analyst, Ralph Mathekga said: “He is embarrassed to say he is resigning … His departure is positive for the ANC in the sense that the party can now focus on stabilising the province before the 2019 elections.”
Mathekga doubted Mahumapelo would remain as ANC provincial chairperson.
“It is not clear whether he will retain the position as chair of the ANC in the North West,” he said.
All the analysts concurred that Mahumapelo may be gone but he would still be in control in the province politically as he retained his powerful position as ANC provincial chairperson.
North West-based analyst Andre Duvenhage said Mahumapelo’s resignation was not genuine but preparation for a fight. “He indicated already that he is not prepared to resign; he is still fighting.”
The analyst said Mahumapelo’s retention as ANC boss had effectively created two power centres. Mahumapelo would ensure the manipulation of whoever would be appointed as premier to replace him.
“We may see new political dynamics playing out in North West. Supra is still in a strong position; he can organise and mobilise and frustrate the Ramaphosa leadership. He still enjoys strong support,” Duvenhage said.
According to Duvenhage, he would still be dominant in the province and control the government. But it was good strategy by Ramaphosa to remove the politician but keep him in the ANC.
“He is still in control of the provincial ANC. As long as he remains there it will be difficult for the new premier to do anything Mahumapelo does not want,” Friedman said.
Prior to his “resignation” announcement at Luthuli House, the ANC head office, Mahumapelo highlighted his successes as premier, including the implementation of the National Development Plan and rebranding.
He said his government focused on “five concretes”, such as developing agriculture and tourism, with a parallel programme to develop villages, or what he termed “small dorpies”.
ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule said his resignation would assist the ANC to deal with North West’s challenges.
– ericn@ citizen.co.za