An attempt to rally the support of his provincial executive committee [PEC] is North West premier Supra Mahumapelo's last-ditch attempt to defy the ANC.
This is according to analysts, who believe that Mahumapelo's spectacular u-turn on handing in his resignation as head of the province may backfire in the long run.
Mahumapelo gave numerous indications throughout the week that he intended to resign. He told News24 on Tuesday: "Tomorrow I am packing my bags and going home."
He also told SABC journalists that he would be stepping down as premier. On Tuesday evening, in a statement from the ANC in North West, the party said it had accepted Mahumapelo's "voluntary exit from his deployment as premier". But Mahumapelo has not officially handed in his resignation.
He now says it is up to the PEC in the province, which he chairs, to decide his fate.
This comes after the ANC's national working committee [NWC], one of the party's highest structures, decided that he is to resign. And it is believed Mahumapelo was also asked by national leaders in the ANC to vacate his office by Tuesday evening.
The PEC is currently meeting to deliberate on Mahumapelo's fate — and he chairs that meeting as the ANC leader in the province.
Politics expert Theo Venter said Mahumapelo is "getting people to sing in his choir".
"Saying that he can only be fired by the PEC is rubbish. President Cyril Ramaphosa and the ANC's national executive committee have the power to remove him. He is now using his cohorts to pit one faction in the ANC against the other. He will be sure to argue that he is being removed for factional reasons," Venter said.
[AS SEEN ON #DStv403] Is #SupraMahumapelo disobeying President Ramaphosa? Is he being an ill-disciplined ANC member? #eNCA Reporter @SamkeleMaseko pushed him for answers. Here are his responses... Courtesy #DStv403 pic.twitter.com/VBggSc2D64— eNCA (@eNCA) May 9, 2018
"By holding this urgent PEC meeting, Mahumapelo is buying political capital. We are watching the endgame now. But the eventual outcome will be negative for him. The PEC is fairly on his side, because regional branches don't exist in North West. There is only one legitimate regional ANC branch. The rest are made up of Mahumapelo's men mostly. So the PEC will most likely come out in his support."
Venter said if Mahumapelo defies the ANC nationally by "hiding behind" the PEC, this may then force top leaders to disband the province's executive.
"This is a risky strategy, but a strategy nonetheless. Mahumapelo is still the ANC's chairperson in the province even if he steps down as premier, giving him significant control. If the PEC is disbanded, an interim task team will be put in place and Mahumapelo will be [relying] on Ace Magashule's support in sending a team [that] he can influence."