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MAHIKENG - Embattled North West Premier Supra Mahumapelo must heed the call of the people and resign immediately, a local business lobby said on Friday.

The North West Business Forum (NWBF) said should Mahumapelo not step down voluntarily, it would call on the national leadership of the ruling ANC to recall him from the post in the interest of peace and stability in the province.

Several people have been arrested this week during violent protests by people calling for the premier to step down amid allegations of corruption, and also demanding better services in the province. Looting and rioting continued unabated in the provincial capital, Mahikeng and surrounding villages.

"The NWBF warns that should Mahumapelo not resign, the Mahikeng protests will spiral to other parts of the province, causing irreparable damage to the economy and political stability of the province," said the business group's chairman Fana Moraka said.

The demonstrations broke out on  Wednesday in Montshioa where mobs barricaded roads and set a bus set alight, after two people died at the local clinic on Tuesday. The pair had failed to get treatment due to an ongoing strike in the health sector in North West.

President Cyril Ramaphosa was expected to convene an urgent ANC meeting in Mahikeng on Friday, to resolve the crisis.

The NWBF first made the call for Mahumapelo to leave in 2015, but its meetings and protest marches were disrupted by the premier's loyalists.


"We had done so having noted rampant corruption in the provincial administration and how collusion, looting, and flouting of regulations had become the order of the day under his watch and command, Moraka said on Friday.

"We call on businesses around Mahikeng to remain closed during protests to avoid being looted and vandalised. The police are protecting Supra’s business properties and do not care about other business and public properties."

He said the economy of the province has collapsed under Mahumapelo.
 
"Unemployment is very high and government services have also collapsed. Corruption under Supra’s watch has rendered the provincial government incapable of delivering basic and essential services such as public healthcare."

"We believe there are capable political leaders in the NW who can replace Supra immediately and take the economy of the province to greater heights."

Mahumapelo has received the backing of the ANC and its leagues in the province.

The ANC Youth League has issued two conflicting statements, with the spokesperson in North West Tshiamo Tsotetsi saying the group supported the   call for Mahumapelo to vacate office, while acting provincial chairperson Tsotso Tlhapi said the issue had not been discussed at its last provincial executive meeting last year.

- African News Agency