Andile Lungisa has until the end of Thursday to either resign as the region's chair or face disciplinary action following a decision by the party's top six. Picture: Bongiwe Mchunu/Independent Media
Port Elizabeth – Nelson Mandela Bay ANC regional chairman Andile Lungisa will step down from his position only if that order comes from the National Executive Committee ofthe ruling party.

Lungisa, a member of the provincial executive committee, has until the end of Thursday to either resign as the regions's chair or face disciplinary action following a decision by the party's top six.

Both provincial and national leaders want Lungisa to step down. Speaking to African News Agency (ANA) Lungisa said that he would not comment on internal matters and that due process needed to be followed.

A letter, which has been seen by African News Agency (ANA) states: "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."

The NEC is the highest organ of the African National Congress between national conferences. The letter from Lungisa to Secretary-General Gwede Mantashe further states that "prior to the final decision of the NEC on the matter, the Secretary-General lacks authority to instruct the elected Chairperson of the Region to stand down".

In the letter, Lungisa states that he together with the REC were never given the opportunity to give their side of the story and hoped this would be the case when the matter was presented before the NEC.

In the letter Lungisa defends his appointment by saying "it cannot be my decision whether or not I step down". The letter further reads: "The implications of the provisions of Rule 17.4 were discussed at the conference.

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, together 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. 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."

Meanwhile, the African National Congress Youth League in Nelson Mandela Bay are backing the appointment of Lungisa and went as far as describing the party constitution dispute as a form of "rape".

Mantashe has consistently said that party leaders who serve on higher structures are barred by the ANC's constitution from serving on lower structures. Lungisa's supporters believe that Mantashe has misinterpreted the rule in question.

At a media briefing on Thursday, ANCYL Regional Task Team (RTT) Convener, Luyolo Nqakula, said that members who have in the past been deprived of their "constitutional right" to contest positions should seek recourse.

Nqakula was referring to ANC heavyweights Nomvula Mokonyane and Bheki Cele who in the past did not challenge the rule which apparently barred them from contesting positions in lower structures.

"According to the interpretation of the SG of the ANC [Mantashe] it was used as a basis for comrade Nomvula, to say do not contest in Gauteng at a provincial conference. They said to comrade Bheki do not contest Ethekwini region. Here we were able to identify this inconsistency with the constitution of the organisation."

"On the basis of that rape is rape, and we can never say that rape is right because it has been allowed two times," said Nqakula. It would appear that the ANCYL in Nelson Mandela Bay are also at odds with the interpretation of the party's very own constitution.

"There is nothing in the constitution of the ANC that prohibits a PEC or NEC members from contesting in the regional conference to be part of the REC.

The decision of the ANC National Officials around this matter involving comrade Andile Lungisa remains unconstitutional and devoid of political conscience," he said.

According to the ANCYL they do not want Lungisa to resign as Regional Chairperson as they believe it would undermine the will of majority branches, however they do want him to give up his role as a PEC member. Lungisa is the only member from the REC who has been asked to resign.