Mahumapelo expected to resign as MPL to make way for 'energetic' 70-year-old Job Mokgoro

The ANC wants former North West premier Supra Mahumapelo to resign as a member of the legislature to make way for its newly-chosen 70-year-old premier candidate, Professor Job Mokgoro. 

However, a final decision will only be made on Friday ahead of the special sitting of the legislature for the election of a new premier.

The party needs to create a vacancy so that Mokgoro can be sworn in by Friday.

It is racing against time to meet a 30-day deadline for the election of a new premier, which comes with the risk of the dissolution of the legislature, forcing an early election.  

"There will be a person resigning whether it will be Supra...we are discussing but we were really saying there is nothing wrong with comrade Supra resigning and focusing on work of the ANC. So, the caucus and ANC will be meeting tomorrow," ANC secretary general Ace Magashule said.

He was speaking at a briefing at Luthuli House where it was confirmed that Mokgoro was the new premier candidate.

During a question session, Magashule would not allow Mahumapelo, who was also present, to answer a question about whether he would do as expected and step down. He was also not allowed to respond to speculation that he refused to resign if his preferred candidate Zakes Tolo was not chosen.

"This is our media conference," he said as he refused to allow Mahumapelo to speak. 

Compromised candidate

Mokgoro was selected on Wednesday evening by the party's national working committee (NWC).

While Magashule called it a "unanimous decision", Mokgoro was seen as a compromised candidate as ANC and alliance members differed for more than a month over who should replace 50-year-old Muhumapelo. 

During a meeting on Monday, the national executive committee could also not agree and deferred the decision to the NWC, which manages the day-to-day running of the party.

Supra Mahumapelo sitting next to premier candidate Job Mokgoro. (Mahlatse Mahlase, News24)

Mahumapelo was forced to step down in May, following weeks of violent protests in the province when his resignation was demanded.

Magashule defended Mokgoro's appointment, despite criticism on social media that the party had chosen an "old person" to lead the troubled province. 

He said the former North West director general was a tried and tested administrator. 

"He is indeed 70 years old, but you can see he has the energy to go and stabilise the situation there," he said.

Limited powers

Mokgoro is widely seen as a caretaker premier, expected to be in the position until the 2019 election.

His powers would also be limited after President Cyril Ramaphosa placed the province under administration earlier this year. 

Magashule played down suggestions that there could be conflict between Mokgoro and Mahumapelo as the latter remains in the powerful position of chairperson of the party in the province.

"There [are] no two centres of power……power is the ANC - not an individual, it depends on the maturity of the individuals." 

"We really hope and wish that [the] North West can understand and hear that the ANC needs all of them more than at any other time," he said. 

Magashule and Mahumapelo confirmed that Mokgoro would be added to the party's provincial executive committee. 

The South African National Civil Organisation has already indicated that it expects Mokgoro to reshuffle the cabinet. 

Mahumapelo raised the ire of the South African Communist Party when he fired its provincial leader Madoda Sambatha as an MEC.

Magashule said they would also be meeting with the alliance on its latest appointment. 

"And we hope they will support him to bring stability and unity to the province," he said.

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