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Legalbrief   |   your legal news hub Monday 22 April 2019

National government takes control of North West

National government has taken control of North West, a move the Sunday Times notes is the first time an entire provincial administration has been taken over. At the same time, two-thirds of the province’s municipalities are being taken over by the Department of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs, says the report. It describes the move as a ‘dramatic intervention’ by President Cyril Ramaphosa against North West Premier Supra Mahumapelo, who reneged on a public undertaking to step down last week and instead took a leave of absence without presidential approval. Ramaphosa has written to the National Council of Provinces, informing it that he is placing the entire North West government under the control of the national executive in terms of section 100 (1) of the Constitution. Parliamentary spokesperson Moloto Mothapo reportedly confirmed NCOP chair Thandi Modise had received Ramaphosa’s letter saying North West would be put under national control for 180 days. ‘The chairperson will table the President’s letter for the attention of MPs. The matter will follow an ordinary course of parliamentary procedure,’ said Mothapo.

The takeover is being spearheaded by Minister in the Presidency Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma. The intervention follows more than a month of violent protests over corruption, maladministration and poor development in the largely rural province. The takeover, notes Business Day, is the latest development in the political battle for control of the province. Last week, Premier Supra Mahumapelo reversed his decision to resign after it became clear that one of his many detractors, Zakes Tolo, would replace him. Mahumapelo took a ‘leave of absence’ instead and appointed his loyalist Wendy Nelson to act as Premier. While the government has moved in to sideline the defiant Mahumapelo and his allies, opposition parties are adamant that this is not enough because Mahumapelo and his executive will remain in their positions until the intervention is concluded. Dlamini-Zuma’s spokesperson, Mlungisi Mtshali, said yesterday that the interministerial committee she led would flesh out the details of the intervention on Tuesday (tomorrow). The Minister presented what has been described by senior ANC leaders as a ‘scathing’ preliminary report on governance in the North West. The EFF, meanwhile, is ready to take the matter to court. Its North West chairperson, Betty Diale, said the EFF had given Mahumapelo’s government a deadline to remove Nelson as acting Premier, claiming her appointment was unconstitutional. Should it fail to remove her, the EFF would approach the courts. Diale said that the party was also waiting for the legislature to announce the date for its motion of no confidence in Mahumapelo.