South Africa’s national government is to take over the administration of North West province where riots over corruption forced President Cyril Ramaphosa to cut short a trip abroad, parliament said Sunday.
The unrest in the province is one of the first serious challenges to face Ramaphosa, who took office in February promising to stamp out corruption.
Public anger over graft and poor public services in North West province erupted last month with shops looted, cars burnt and protesters clashing with police.
Ramaphosa cut short a trip to a Commonwealth summit in London to deal with the crisis.
North West leader Supra Mahumapelo, a close ally of ousted former president Jacob Zuma, refused to resign last week despite widespread pressure including a reported request from Ramaphosa.
Mahumalepo, alleging a conspiracy to remove him on “spurious, concocted” grounds, last week took a leave of absence while appointing an ally to serve as acting provincial premier.
On Sunday, parliament said Ramaphosa had notified it of a cabinet decision to take over the administration of the province.
“The Constitution states that, when a province cannot or does not fulfil an executive obligation in terms of the… legislation, the national executive may intervene by taking any appropriate steps,” parliament’s upper house National Council of Provinces said in a statement.
Corruption scandals engulfed the African National Congress (ANC) under Zuma, who resigned as president after the ANC turned against him ahead of elections next year.