Johannesburg - Former ANC Youth League deputy president Andile Lungisa seems unperturbed by a strongly worded letter from the ANC calling on leaders serving in the party’s higher structures not to contest lowly positions.
Lungisa, who currently serves in the Eastern Cape ANC provincial executive committee (PEC), said he had been nominated to contest the chairperson position when the ANC Nelson Mandela Bay region goes to its elective conference on Friday afternoon in Port Elizabeth.
In a letter addressed to all party structures, dated March 8, which Independent Media has seen, ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe wrote that following the ANC’s 53rd national conference, the party’s constitution had been amended to read, “a member elected to the PEC shall resign from any position held in a lower structure in the ANC”.
Mantashe wrote: “We have consistently interpreted this as prohibiting comrades from higher organs of the ANC from contesting positions in lower organs. Any attempt to resign from the PEC in the run-up to regional conferences must not be allowed as it is opportunistic. Comrades must be advised that the ANC structures are about serving not ‘POWER’.”
Unperturbed, Lungisa, who is a former chairperson of the National Youth Development Agency, told Independent Media that he had been nominated by 38 branches out of the 45 expected to attend the three-day conference.
“This matter belongs to the structures of the ANC. It will be dealt with at the conference by members of the ANC. The conference will clarify the matter and won’t be selective in the application of constitution. We understand the ANC constitution in its entirety,” said Lungisa on Friday morning.
He said he would express his personal views on the matter during the conference, which comes almost three years after the regional structure was disbanded by President Jacob Zuma due to infighting.
This had been cited as reasons the ANC lost the metro to a DA-led coalition during last year’s watershed municipal elections.
ANC regional head of communications Gift Ngqondi said the conference would take place under the theme “Unity in Action to restore the integrity and confidence of the people towards the ANC".
Lungisa is expected to go head-to-head with ANC MPL Tony Duba for the crucial chairperson position. Duba, who is the SA National Civic Organisation’s provincial secretary, said he was ready to avail himself if the branches wanted him to lead.
“Look, the task is bigger than we see. We are going to the conference to build the branches of the ANC and make ANC vibrant again in the Nelson Mandela metro,” said Duba, who is chairperson of the portfolio committee on economic development, tourism and environmental affairs in the Eastern Cape Legislature in Bhisho.
The conference, he said, was about rebuilding the ANC in the province’s biggest metro. “It’s not about contesting for City Hall because we are the opposition already. We need to humble ourselves to the people of Nelson Mandela Bay. The punishment that we go from the ballot means calls for that. There should be less squabbles and more talk on service delivery, nothing else,” said Duba.
The new leadership would have the mammoth task of rebuilding party structures, winning back the people’s trust and ultimately the metro in the 2021 municipal elections. They would also shed the light on who the region would support to lead the ANC in the province and the country during the upcoming elective conferences later this year.