Time is running out for the ANC to take a firm decision on whether to retain out-of-favour ANC provincial chairperson in North West Supra Mahumapelo, as next year‘s general election draws nearer.

Those who attended the ANC national working committee meeting on Monday at Doxa Deo church in Hartbeespoort, north of Johannesburg, said ANC president Cyril Ramaphosa was worried about the party’s electoral prospects in North West because of divisions that run from “top to bottom”.

“No one said the ANC is ready to win the elections,” Ramaphosa was heard telling those who attended the meeting, including members of Mahumapelo’s executive.

The powerful ANC national committee, the highest structure between conferences, was scheduled to meet soon and take a final decision on Mahumapelo’s fate.

Ahead of Monday’s meeting a high-level ANC delegation crisscrossed North West to get a clear sense on the state of the ANC on the ground, as those against Mahumapelo pushed for his executive committee to be disbanded and replaced with a temporary task team.

In the past three general elections, the ANC in North West shed support, dropping from 80.7% in 2004 to 72.8% in 2009 and 63.5% in 2014.

A drop in support in traditional strongholds like North West hurts the ANC’s national prospects, with National Assembly representation dropping by 15 seats in 2014.

But Mahumapelo has accused Ramaphosa’s backers of “triumphalism”, which he said started after his preferred candidate Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma lost to Ramaphosa at the ANC’s Nasrec national conference last December in Johannesburg.

He said election structures were already in place and pinned the ANC’s prospects next year on what he described as “the demise of the Congress of the People and the United Christian Democratic Party”, adding that these factors would “allow for the ANC to increase its base”.

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ANC branches met the national leaders in four regions at the weekend. Mahumapelo’s opponents used the platform to vent their dislike of him and his allies, including Ngaka Modiri Molema and district mayor Justice Makolomakwe.

But Mahumapelo’s backers fought back with the gathering, led by ANC treasurer-general Paul Mashatile, in Vryburg’s Dr Ruth Segomotsi Mompati region collapsing because of “anarchy” as speakers were disrupted, tables cloths torn and the PA system disconnected, said those who attended.

In Bojanala region City Press heard that branch leaders and members opposed to Mahumapelo did not want him to speak. In another meeting in Dr Kenneth Kaunda region, which had been a strong base for Mahumapelo, some of his key allies had turned against him.

City Press learnt the ANC was looking at combining the damning report on Mahumapelo’s government performance – which Ramaphosa relied on to fire him as premier earlier in May – and that on the state of the organisation to form a comprehensive view on the challenges facing its structures in North West.

“The core business of the ANC is to govern and if the ANC fails to govern what do you do? I think the failure of the ANC to run government, not just the province but also at local level, is enough to say the structure is not competent,” said a senior party leader.

In April Mahumapelo reported to Luthuli House that the province was functional but his opponents have labelled the statement “a lie”.

Mahumapelo said the province “unanimously” accepted Ramaphosa’s election in Nasrec even though he was not their preferred candidate. But there were incidents of “triumphalism” by Ramaphosa’s lobbyists, including defiance from councillors and provincial legislature MPs.

He said matters of the organisation were raised “recklessly” in the media; the elections programme and branch meetings were disrupted; external structures were formed to contest his authority; and there were service-delivery protests and instances when local ANC leaders connived with the opposition.

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