The ANC won't directly drop the axe on North West premier Supra Mahumapelo, but the party may find other ways to deal with widespread calls for his removal.
This is according to political analysts, who said a direct removal of Mahumapelo as premier could result in further rifts between factions in the party – provincially and nationally.
President Cyril Ramaphosa, the ANC's top six and its national working committee are meeting to discuss Mahumapelo's fate amid violent protests calling for the premier to be axed in North West's capital Mahikeng, and the ANC's own alliance partners in the province are echoing the calls.
Analysts believe there may be other ways to remove Mahumapelo without further ramifications.
Politics expert Theo Venter said Mahumapelo may be "more vulnerable than people think".
"The ANC won't get rid of him the normal way – [it] may offer him something he can't refuse. And if he does refuse, the party could pull away the pillars of his power, perhaps by disbanding his provincial executive committee and establishing a provincial task team [PTT] in its place," Venter said.
"But then there is the question of Ace Magashule [Free State premier and ANC secretary-general], who will be tasked with forming the PTT. Either way, Mahumapelo's sell-by date is May 2019. As that date draws closer, he is moving into lame-duck territory. The ANC may put pressure on the party political system rather than the executive."
Independent political analyst Ralph Mathekga said the ANC may not have to lift a finger.
"Ramaphosa and company could just leave the power contest up to the ANC in the province. Interparty politics are already at play in North West, and opposition parties are also giving the anti-Mahumapelo group in the ANC chances to have him removed. Ramaphosa may just have to wait and watch," Mathekga said.
"For the anti-Mahumapelo group, it's not only about the corruption; it's about power as well. There are multifaceted interests in North West. But the longer it takes to attend to this matter, in whatever way, the more damaging it will be for the party."