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Lungisa stands firm as he awaits NEC decision on his future

Politics
ANC councillor Andile Lungisa will soon know whether he is eligible to continue in his position as chairperson of Nelson Mandela Bay in the Eastern Cape.

Independent Media understands that Lungisa’s election was among issues discussed at the national executive committee (NEC) meeting held at St George’s Hotel outside Tshwane at the weekend.

A media briefing on the meeting’s outcomes will be held on Monday, according to party spokesperson Zizi Kodwa.

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Andile Lungisa

Lungisa missed Thursday’s deadline to step down from the position despite being ordered to do so by ANC Eastern Cape secretary Oscar Mabuyane.

His letter to Lungisa was in line with last week’s decision by the ANC’s top six officials, including secretary-general Gwede Mantashe and President Jacob Zuma, that he should step down.

But Lungisa stuck to his guns, saying he would vacate the position only when told to do so by the NEC.

The matter was referred to the NEC by Mantashe after Lungisa had repeatedly defied his orders to pull out of a leadership race.

Mantashe argued in letters to Lungisa, which Independent Media has seen, that the ANC constitution prohibited leaders in senior positions from contesting seats in lower structures.

Lungisa was elected to head the regional executive committee (REC) despite being a member of the provincial executive committee (PEC).

This week, he trained his guns on Mantashe, telling him he was going nowhere until the NEC had expressed its views on the matter.

He accused Mantashe of undermining democratic processes by refusing members the right to contest any position within the party, and that he had no powers to remove him from his position.

The former ANC Youth League deputy president also warned Mantashe of the “dreadful effect of removing a popularly elected regional leadership, in a region where the ANC is mired by political malaise”.

He wrote that the decision would demoralise members and send a message of an organisation in disarray, “thus worsening our already beleaguered public image in a metro” the party lost to the DA during last year’s municipal elections.

Mabuyane said they had agreed to Lungisa’s appeal for the province, which is the ANC’s second biggest in terms of membership, to allow the NEC to deal with the matter as it was the highest decision making body of the “unitary” organisation.

In his latest letter to Mantashe, Lungisa said his candidacy had been discussed at length by conference delegates, and that both PEC and NEC delegates had officiated at the election.

“After discussions, it was decided that the will of the branches who had nominated me should be respected. This was not my sole decision.

“The decision was taken by branch delegates, with the members of the PEC and the NEC who were in attendance at the regional conference. It therefore cannot be my decision whether or not I step down. Nor can it be the decision of the REC (regional executive committee). If the PEC or the NEC instructs the dissolution of the REC, we shall comply with the decision. At the present moment, it is not within our powers to dissolve ourselves,” the letter read.

He indicated that in order to ensure there was no misunderstanding, “I will step down from the position of chairperson, should I be advised to do so pursuant to the decision of the NEC.

“At this point in time, it is our understanding that the matter is still pending before the NEC, and as such the elected leadership shall be remaining in its position”.

Independent Media understands Lungisa would not step down without a fight and that he didn’t recognise the ANC top six leadership as “a formal structure of the ANC”.

Kodwa told Independent Media this week that there was already a “standing decision” on the matter, which Mantashe had communicated to all party structures ahead of Lungisa’s election at a hotly contested elective conference in Port Elizabeth recently.

He called on the ANC structures, but not the NEC, to chart a way forward on the Lungisa matter. He refused to comment, saying this was an internal matter.

Lungisa’s election is a political hot potato as he was viewed as proxy for former AU Commission chairperson Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, who is President Zuma’s choice for a candidate to succeed him when he steps down as ANC leader in December, and possibly become the country’s first female president in 2019.

After Lungisa had been confirmed as the new leader, Zuma flew to Port Elizabeth where he personally congratulated him and told him the ancestors agreed with his election and that the will of the people should be respected.

Closing the conference later, Lungisa called on the masses to “support and elect a woman president” at the ANC’s national elective conference in December.

Political Bureau

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