The walls are closing in on North West premier Supra Mahumapelo.
It appears that his detractors and former allies, inside and outside the legislature, are plotting to see him ousted.
This is despite a directive from the ANC's national executive committee (NEC) that the party's members in the legislature should not vote with the opposition on a motion of no confidence in him.
Earlier this month, the EFF wrote to the speaker of the legislature, asking to table a motion of no confidence in the premier.
The party said its decision was motivated by "corruption patterns", after it had emerged that no procurement processes were followed for some major projects.
The motion of no confidence will go ahead on April 17.
North West's provincial government has been in the spotlight in recent weeks, after revelations that it had paid medical-technology company Mediosa R30-million in advance.
The Hawks also raided the premier's office earlier this month and seized documents, after allegations that IT company Nepo Data Dynamics was paid more than R215-million.
Some claimed that the company, which appears to have been paid daily, inflated prices.
The Democratic Alliance in North West will support the Motion of No Confidence (MONC) in Premier Supra Mahumapelo on 17 April 2018. After his alleged secret visit with Jacob Zuma, we are convinced, more than ever, that he is not fit to lead this Province.— DA North-West (@DA_NorthWest) March 23, 2018
Some ANC members in the legislature and former leaders have told News24 that they are willing to vote with the EFF, even if it's not by secret ballot.
Over the weekend, the NEC made its stance on the matter clear at a briefing in Cape Town, putting party unity above any calls to ferret out corruption.
"All caucuses are expected to submit to greater cohesion and maximum discipline, including asserting and defending the hegemony of the ANC," party secretary-general Ace Magashule said.
The party's highest decision-making body called on members to act "decisively" against "instances" that openly undermine the unity of the organisation and to "whip into line" those found to be advancing "a divisive agenda" in the governing party.
But some have questioned the NEC's posture on the matter.
'Not in our name'
Among them is a member of the legislature who spoke to News24 on condition of anonymity.
"We can't allow this anymore. Not in our name. We can be fired, but history will judge us. Some of us are willing to vote for Supra to go, even if it is by a show of hands," the fed-up member of the provincial legislature (MPL) said.
The MPL added that some were even willing to be taken through a disciplinary process by the party, because they genuinely believed in supporting a motion against Mahumapelo.
Now That Ace Magashule and Supra Mahumapelo know that they will be faced with court challenges soon, they are on a looting spree, TAD was ordered by Ace Magashule even though their tender contract was declared invalid by Treasury.— Man's Not Barry Roux (@AdvBarryRoux) March 30, 2018
Another critic, who agrees with the MPL, is former leader in the province and ANC national executive committee member Collen Maine.
"North West at this stage is the most problematic province in the ANC," the former MEC told News24.
He also believes the NEC needs to play a greater role in the province. He has raised his concerns over the loss of support some municipalities experienced in the 2016 local government elections, as well as the multiple allegations of corruption against the province's departments. In some instances, cases have been opened with the police.
"There cannot be smoke without fire," said Maine.
He also questioned the premier's announcement – during a state of the province address – that "former premiers and MECs" might be called to account during an investigation to deal with the rampant corruption.
"The timing of the stupid investigation is worrisome, but I will cooperate," said Maine.
"Why is it only be raised now? Why must we account for slabs which were used to build houses in 1995? We cannot account for something that happened in 1995. That's not fair. Back then, funds went straight from Treasury to municipalities, and not through provincial leadership," he complained.
'Supra is just rubbish'
Another one of Mahumapelo's vocal critics in the province is a former branch secretary of a ward in the Moses Kotane region, Thabo Molamu.
He told News24 that some of Mahumapelo's former allies contacted him and claimed the premier had used them and lied to them.
"Supra is just rubbish," insists Molamu, who disagrees with the NEC's decision to defend its deployee to the provincial government.
He has called on the party's representatives in the legislature to support the EFF motion.
"The NEC suffers from a fear of the unknown. It's scared that, if this [motion of no confidence succeeds] it will happen elsewhere. The ANC will only have clean leaders once we can be honest with one another," said the man better known as Arafat in ANC circles.
A former provincial leader who once served with Mahumapelo, and who also wishes to remain anonymous, said municipalities had collapsed, with financial misconduct and the misappropriation of funds being the order of the day.
He said the ANC itself suffered from collapsed structures in the province. He also accused the ANC chair of using former COPE representatives in North West in the election structures he had recently set up.
"There are no structures. There's manipulation of membership, and the MPLs are correct to ask for national intervention before they take him out on the 17th. The MPLs here are gatvol [fed up]," said the former North West ANC leader.
Mahumapelo has often been accused of driving out "good cadres" from the ranks of the ANC, but the party's acting secretary Susan Dantje has rubbished the numerous allegations levelled against him.
"We have trust in our deployees in Parliament, who know very well that they are deployed by the ANC. The mandate of the ANC is very clear; no deployee of the ANC will vote [for] a motion of no confidence against any other member," said Dantjie.
She accused some of those taking issue with the provincial leadership of still being "hung up" on the ANC's watershed December national conference, in which Cyril Ramaphosa beat Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, Mahumapelo's preferred candidate for president.
"We know some comrades who are meeting started doing so in the lead-up to [the December elective conference at] Nasrec... seemingly there are comrades who are still abusing those lobby groups for their own personal interests against Supra," said Dantjie.
"Nothing that Supra does, even in government, happens without the blessing of the ANC," said the acting provincial secretary.
It's a furious spat over a malfunctioning toilet and incomplete renovations between a North West MEC and a local property mogul known to be close to Premier Supra Mahumapelo.— Tumisang Tyamzashe (@TheRealTUMZAZA) March 25, 2018
Now the North... https://t.co/uoXWKndSPH
Addressing Maine's views, Dantjie said there was nothing wrong in North West. She added that Maine knew where to go to register his concerns.
"Collen must just accept that he is the former provincial chairperson of the youth league in the province. He decided to serve at national [level], so he must leave provincial politics to the leadership in the province. He is not a [provincial executive committee] member," said Dantjie.
She denied that Mahumapelo wanted to launch an investigation to target former premiers and MECs, and insisted that the premier would call on them if and when needed.
"The premier never said he would investigate any former deployees of the ANC. He said there would be investigations and, when any member of the ANC, especially former premiers, MECs, [heads of departments] and [directors-general] are needed, they would be called," she said.
An NEC member who is now a full-time deployee at Luthuli House said he felt the province needed a judicial inquiry in which investigators and auditors could look at what actually transpired.
Efforts to find a resolution are already underway, with Obed Bapela meeting with the caucus. He is expected to give feedback to party leaders soon.