April 26, 2018 / 8:34 PM / a year ago

South Africa's Ramaphosa appoints team to address North West governance

South Africa's President Cyril Ramaphosa speaks during the Commonwealth Business Forum Banquet at the Guildhall in London, Britain, April 17, 2018. REUTERS/Simon Dawson

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - South African President Cyril Ramaphosa has appointed an inter-ministerial team to advise on the governance of the North West province and the threats confronting the region, his office said on Thursday, a week after protests erupted in the region.

Ramaphosa cut short a visit to a Commonwealth summit in Britain a day early last week to travel to North West, where crowds have been protesting against poor public services and demanding the resignation of the local government leader.

“This development ... is a response to appeals by the people of the North West and a range of other concerned stakeholders that government should intervene,” Ramaphosa’s office said in a statement.

Ramaphosa, who replaced Jacob Zuma as president in February, has staked his reputation on rooting out the corruption and mismanagement associated with Zuma’s nine years in power.

The team has been directed to assess the state of governance in North West Province and report to the cabinet on steps that could be taken. The team will also advise on potential threats facing the province.

Crowds first took to the streets in and around the province’s capital, Mahikeng, on April 18, calling for the resignation of the territory’s premier, Supra Mahumapelo.

As violence mounted, neighbouring Botswana shut some border crossings. Police fired tear gas at protesters who blocked roads, and South African media reported that cars were set alight and shops looted over two days of unrest.

Reporting by Nqobile Dludla; editing by Kevin Liffey, Larry King

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