Supporters of embattled North West premier Supra Mahumapelo are gearing up for a fight and are said to be mobilising in small groups throughout various regions of the province.
This comes after reports that president Cyril Ramaphosa met with Mahumapelo on Thursday to convey a decision by the ANC's national working committee that Mahumapelo must step down from his position as leader of North West.
Mahumapelo's supporters believe Ramaphosa, and those aligned to him, are actively trying to give the boot to party leaders who threw their weight behind Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma at the ANC's national conference in December last year. They warn that a decision to remove Mahumapelo will cause further rifts in the party.
Speaking to HuffPost, an ANC member in the top structures of North West's Ngaka Modiri Molema region who is a Mahumapelo backer, said a decision to have the premier removed is a "stunt to kick out" party leaders who did not support Ramaphosa.
ANC will convene a special NEC Monday to consider the NWC recommendation that Supra Mahumapelo be removed from his position as NW Premier— Matuma Letsoalo (@MatumaLets) May 3, 2018
"This will not work. It will cause more divisions in the party. The allegations against [Mahumapelo] are not proven. This is all politics, and we will fight it in the ANC. [Mahumapelo] has done nothing wrong; [Ramaphosa] is intimidated by his power in North West, and so they want him gone. We will fight it," the member said, who asked to remain anonymous.
South African Communist Party (SACP) provincial spokesperson Nick Maphelle said although the SACP is not privy to its alliance partner's discussions, there are talks in the province of various individuals mobilising in support of Mahumapelo.
"We are not aware of mass mobilisation. But there are individuals in various regions mobilising in support of [Mahumapelo] in small pockets. He has lost much support in the ANC in most regions. The individuals supporting him have benefited from his premiership," Maphelle said.
A member of the ANC's provincial executive committee in North West said Mahumapelo is unlikely to "go easily". Asking to remain anonymous for fear of victimisation, the member said Mahumapelo has been in talks with his allies in the province over the past month.
Ugly scenes coming out of Mahikeng. Supra Mahumapelo is so corrupt that the only way the people could get the ANC's attention was to burn their city down. The ANC is incapable of self correction. We will have to force them to change by voting for opposition parties in 2019.— Siphamandla (@Sowellnomics) April 20, 2018
"He will not want to go if he cannot find someone close to him to continue his work. We hear the negotiations in the NWC were not easy. The national executive committee will be conflicted, but should mostly agree that Mahumapelo must go. Whether he will go willingly or not, we don't know, but we should have some indication by the weekend," he said.
Politics expert Susan Booysen said it seems Ramaphosa is consolidating the basis for his decisions through the ANC's NWC and NEC.
"He cannot be accused of spreading factionalism and splitting the ANC. He is building up the stature of his decisions by putting them to the NWC and NEC, unlike his predecessor. It will be easier to remove Mahumapelo than it was Zuma. Mahumapelo is one of the last outposts in the Zuma faction," she said.
"The circle of Supra-macists [Mahumapelo supporters] is shrinking in North West, and Mahumapelo's supporters will construe this as an attack. But Ramaphosa will not be shaking in his boots."
Political analyst Protas Madlala said the ANC has no choice when it comes to removing Mahumapelo, because of the ongoing violent protests in the province. He said this was not a show of Ramaphosa's power in the party; but rather an option the party was pressured into with elections only a year away.