JOHANNESBURG. – South African President Cyril Ramaphosa cut short his participation in the Commonwealth summit in Britain to tackle violent demonstrations at home, his office said, in one of the first major challenges of his new presidency.
President Ramaphosa, who took office in February with promises to jump-start the economy and stamp out graft, expressed “grave concern” over unrest in North West province and reports of clashes between police and protesters, according to a statement published on the president’s website Thursday.
“President Ramaphosa has called for calm and adherence to the rule of law in the province and has called on all aggrieved parties to express their grievances through peaceful means and engagement rather than violence and anarchy,” the statement said.
It added that the South African leader had urged security forces to “exercise maximum restraint”.
Television images aired by the SABC state broadcaster showed thick smoke rising into the air near the site of the unrest in and around the provincial capital Mahikeng, while crowds of protesters looted shops in the area.
The broadcaster said one person was thought to have died in the demonstrations.
Police have reportedly used tear gas and rubber bullets to try and quell the protests, which erupted this week over jobs, housing and corruption.
Meanwhile, reports yesterday evening said President Ramaphosa was locked in a meeting at heritage house in Mahikeng where the party’s provincial leaders and alliance partners were discussing the burning issue of the premier’s future.
The meeting, which will discuss North West Premier Supra Mahumapelo, was expected to be heated with the South African Communist Party (SACP) and Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) telling Eyewitness News they’ll be calling for his ouster.
Violent protests and the destruction of property continued in the province as residents demanded the premier’s resignation.
Mahumapelo is facing the heat from all corners.
Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan has ordered the state arms company to investigate the R1 million bursary Denel issued to the North West Premier’s son.
His links with the Gupta family are also coming back to haunt him after ANC Youth League president Collin Maine claimed he was introduced to the controversial family by the premier.
His office was also recently raided by the Hawks, who are investigating the awarding of a multimillion-rand tender to Nepo Data Dynamics without following tender procedures.
Opposition parties are also pushing for a motion of no confidence in him.
All these issues will be used by Mahumapelo’s detractors in their bid to convince the ANC’s top leaders to recall him.
But the provincial ANC has indicated it will protect and defend him. – The Telegraph/Eye Witness News