Limpopo Premier Cassel Mathale. Picture: SOWETAN
Limpopo Premier Cassel Mathale. Picture: SOWETAN

AFRICAN National Congress (ANC) leaders in Limpopo have been put on notice that they have lost the support of their branches — a warning they regard as a precursor to their axing.

Two premiers — in Limpopo and North West — may lose their posts as the ANC’s new leaders act against regional bosses who did not support ANC president Jacob Zuma’s re-election last month.

In Limpopo, the ANC is led by Premier Cassel Mathale, who was a close ally of Julius Malema — expelled from the party last year in part because of his belligerent attempts to weaken Mr Zuma.

Members of the party’s national working committee were in Limpopo on Monday to gather information about the state of the ANC in the province.

Branch members complained provincial leaders had removed mayors unilaterally, ignored the party’s rules and caused division.

ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe said on Tuesday: "This is part of the process of rebuilding the ANC."

At a meeting, the national leadership informed the Limpopo leaders about the problems raised by the branches and instructed them to respond in writing.

"A follow-up meeting will be scheduled within two to three weeks to consider and discuss the issues raised by branches, coupled with the response of the provincial executive," ANC spokesman Jackson Mthembu said on Tuesday.

He said that "owing to the urgency of the need to stabilise the province", the national working committee would make recommendations to the national executive committee on how to "resolve the political and organisational challenges in Limpopo".

Buoyed by Mr Zuma’s emphatic victory and the humiliation of his opponents at the ANC conference last month, the new leaders seem determined to oust their opponents, particularly those they suspect cannot deliver victory in next year’s national elections.

The national government took over the administration of five departments in Limpopo after its runaway finances threatened the payment of public servant salaries in 2010. The failure to deliver textbooks and stationery to some schools last year was also attributed to a neglectful leadership.

Speaking on condition of anonymity on Tuesday, Limpopo ANC leaders said Monday’s meeting was an attempt to build a case for the disbandment of their provincial executive committee.

Some described it as a "witch hunt" against people who had not backed the winning side at the ANC’s conference. They were preparing to resist their removal.

The final decision to disband the committee rests with the national executive committee.

A similar drive is in full swing in North West, where the ANC provincial executive committee this week disbanded its leadership in the Kenneth Kaunda region.

North West ANC spokesman Kenny Morolong said on Tuesday the region would be under the administration of the provincial executive committee to ensure "smooth day-to-day running".

Kenneth Kaunda deputy secretary David Kham, regarded as the mastermind behind last month’s removal of the ANC mayor in Tlokwe municipality, which was then taken over by the Democratic Alliance, was suspended.

ANC North West secretary Kabelo Mataboge, believed to be a leader of a group opposed to Mr Zuma’s re-election as ANC president, was also suspended.