North West premier Job Mokgoro says ‘looters’ want him out
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Premier says protecting state resources put him on a collision course with those who enabled looting
Mafikeng - Beleaguered North West premier Professor Job Mokgoro says his removal is linked to the desire to loot state resources, which he has been blocking since 2018.
In an interview with the Sunday Independent this week, Mokgoro said, there is a strong desire to loot in the province, and he has been interfering with that process, subsequently, pitting him against members of the Executive Committee.
"One of my objectives, when I came in during 2018, was to ensure that I block, especially in the main, those that have been enabling looting. Negativity started rising on them, especially members of the Executive Council (Exco). From 2019, they started to isolate me systematically. I have been running an Exco virtually without a cabinet," he said.
Mokgoro added that it appeared there was an orchestrated ploy to undermine his leadership and set him up for failure, which had the backing of the Interim Provincial Committee coordinator Hlomane Chauke.
He claimed Chauke tried to make his life difficult and micromanage him, wanting to know the day-to-day running of his office.
"He had a penchant for micromanagement. He said I had to report to the party, really abusing party-state relations to a point where he started using that process for his benefit. He also became negative towards me because of my approach to securing state resources. He would start saying the party wants this and that. In essence, he was promoting his objectives and desires," Mokgoro said.
He added that Chauke went as far as accusing him of not understanding or respecting the party.
"It was as though everything I did on a daily basis should be reported to him. There would be a crisis at a municipality or community, and I would deploy an administrator to run and turn things around. He would complain and write a letter to Luthuli House claiming I'm doing things independently without consulting them. In many instances, when he says consulting them, he is talking about himself. We are here because I have blocked the opportunities to loot, and because I have refused to be, a yes man. He would present the party as some part of a scarecrow, and I have resisted that," said Mokgoro.
Attempts to get a comment from Chauke were unsuccessful. He did not respond to calls or questions sent to him via WhatsApp.
The pair have been at loggerheads for some time, and in January this year, Chauke announced the suspension of Mokgoro. He was accused of colluding with the opposition party while voting for Priscilla Williams as Chair of Chairs in the provincial legislature.
At the time, Chauke said Mokgoro, Williams, Aaron Motswana, Job Dliso and Bitso Lenkopane defied the party's chief whip Paul Sebego, that voting for a Chair of Chairs should not be held through a secret vote.
Political analyst Dr Ralph Mathekga said what is currently happening in the province signalled a "severe crisis".
"It's very intense factional battles. There is an attempt by the task team to stabilise things, but it is not seen to be reaching out equally to both sides. It's like replacing one extreme with another," Mathekga said.
Mathekga cited, what transpired the previous week with the announcement of Mokgoro's removal, and the nomination of Bushy Maape as his replacement, as a case in point.
He said, the upcoming provincial elective conference and next year's national conference, appeared to be the driving forces spurring the chaos related to the leadership battles in the province.
"Things have happened so fast, that it appears there is an urgency to realign the North West, very quickly. I see a very desperate attempt to realign, but I don't know if that will hold. There appears to be a very high level of backlash. They want to make sure that at the regional level, the people of a particular faction win. Therefore, going to the national conference, you can decide on the delegates. It's the oldest trick of the ANC book, whereby, regional conferences are very intense because they fit into the national leadership. They are trying to bring the province to book, but they do it with a sledgehammer approach," Mathekga said.
Mokgoro lambasted the tactics that IPC has employed over the past few months. He claimed that they had tried many ways to fabricate reasons to oust him from office, and in the process, committed mistakes.
"That is why over the past week, they have gone public, which was not the first time. They have been doing this thing since January. They have not demonstrated accountability to the people of the North West in terms of giving them a solid reason why they are getting rid of me. They would say I don't listen to the ANC or seek counsel, then they would talk about service delivery in municipalities, but I don't run municipalities. They were clutching at straws just to create a reason why I should go," Mokgoro said.
Mokgoro added that it was no surprise that "they were so desperate“ to get rid of him, that they even made severe technical errors. He regards the nomination of Maape as an error on their part.
"They present to the public a premier-elect when he is not a member of the legislature, and therefore, could not become a (provincial) premier, and is also not on the list. There is no way that he can become premier, and now they are trying to force people to resign, myself included, so space is created for the individual. They are struggling because no one has agreed to resign. It's a huge embarrassment to the ANC. I can't understand why our leadership at national (office) was so gullible when this was recommended to them," he said.
Mokgoro and his supporters believe the national ANC was swayed by a report submitted earlier this month. The report was sent to Luthuli House on August 14, complaining about Mokgoro's conduct. The 14-page document included a complaint about the appointment of the acting head of the department by the premier's office without consulting the party, irretrievable breakdown of the political advisors deployed in the office of the premier, self-liberation campaign, and Intelligence within the office of the premier.
The report said it had come to the attention of the party that some members have had their phones bugged. It said the phones were bugged by people close to Mokgoro.
That report resulted in the Secretary-General's office telling Mokgoro to resign, but his supporters say it's flawed and should not be relied upon to remove him.
James Gadinabokao, said if there are any truths to the claims in the report, including the tapping of the phones, they should go to the law enforcement agencies and produce the evidence.
"I'm saying no to his removal. I'm saying the IPC lied to the NEC. The report they gave to the NEC is fabricated, it's lies, and it's not authentic. I'm saying to the President, as someone who appointed the premier, he must come out clear to say if he will agree with the fabricated lies or ensure proper leadership," he said.
Gadinabokao further added that Mokgoro has never been given a chance to govern, as the province has been under administration since 2018. He said, all the decisions regarding services in the province have been going through the administrators.
"The province has been under Section 100. There is nothing that Prof Mokgoro was supposed to do or authorise without checking with the administrator. They should ask and direct all those claims to the administrator and not Prof Mokgoro," he said.
Mokgoro indicated that he would not be going anywhere until he secured an audience with President Cyril Ramaphosa. He said a meeting was scheduled for later this week.
"The SG's office has told me to resign, and I said I respect the ANC principles. If you say I must go, I will go. However, because the person who appoints and fires me is the President, I have asked an audience with the President to explain this to me. When he has satisfied my constitutional rights, then I will resign. Until then, I'm the premier of the North West, and I will carry out my constitutional duties," said Mokgoro.