The powerful and turbulent politics of the wild North West

The communities of Hartbeespoort and Brits feel much closer to Gauteng than the North West Province, with its capital, Mahikeng, nearly 300 kilometres away. The motion of demarcating the Hartbeespoort area into Gauteng is unfortunately not feasible and politically it will not be tolerated. We will be part of Bokone Bophirima (what the powers that be in the former Bophuthatswana’s stronghold prefer to call our province) until the second coming of the Messiah, according to the ANC.

The premier of the North West, Supra Mahumapelo, is a very powerful member of the ruling ANC and a charismatic leader, referred to by his supporters in the province as the Black Jesus. Ironically he is also a very close resemblance of the former homeland leader, Lucas Mangope. Mahumapelo is also a member of the so-called Premier League, with Free State premier Ace Magashule and Mpumalanga premier DD Mabuza. The trio are regarded by many leaders within the ANC as the kingmakers for the succession race next year.

It is therefore not surprising that the secretary-general of the ANC, Gwede Mantashe, had to travel to Mahikeng last week (the second time in so many months) to call the North West ANC to order. Within the party structures of the ANC the secretary-general is more powerful than the country’s president and it is common knowledge that the real decisions regarding the running of the country are made in Lutuli House by Mantashe. It is also rumoured that Mantashe is deeply concerned by the antics of Jacob Zuma and is looking for an amicable back door exit for the country’s president. The confrontation between Mantashe and Mahumapelo promises to have a few intriguing twists in the near future of the political stage.

But Supra Mahumapelo’s Bokone Bophirima province (and its municipalities) is in chaos. It is plagued by infighting of factions with dramatic names like the Taliban, the Mapogs and the N4s, with all their time spent on political manoeuvring and none on public administration. Forty percent of the province’s youth is unemployed and the mainstay mining economy is imploding.

Premier Mahumapelo is an avid campaigner of Chinese investments in the province. He is also a close ally of the Gupta family. He claims the nickname of Black Jesus was bestowed on him because he is a very forgiving man. South African politics however, is very unforgiving.

Watch out for the erection of a few crosses on the far away hills of Mahikeng over the upcoming Easter holidays.

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