Zuma’s support for Lungisa contradicts Mantashe’s instructions
The divisions within the ANC’s top leadership were laid bare yesterday, as President Jacob Zuma jetted into Nelson Mandela Bay and, in a blatant show of dissent, threw his weight behind Andile Lungisa’s election as regional chairman of the ANC.
Zuma said the majority of the branches in the metro had spoken and that even the ancestors agreed with Lungisa’s election, which meant the decision had to be accepted.
This flies in the face of what ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe had said only hours before in a telephonic interview – that Lungisa would be dealt with through the party’s mechanisms for defying the ANC constitution.
He said there was a formula to deal with these matters and that “Lungisa, too, will be dealt with through the same mechanism and I won’t be discussing it with the media”.
On Wednesday, Mantashe sent a letter to all provincial structures across the country, reminding them about the constitution, which he said barred any members of the provincial executive committee (PEC) from serving on a lower structure.
He instructed that any attempt to resign should not be allowed as it was opportunistic.
But Lungisa, a PEC member – who initially agreed to stand down – defied Mantashe’s directive and was elected by 71 votes against the 57 his opponent, Tony Duba, received.
This appeared to please Zuma, who said: “When we do things the wrong way the ancestors get angry. That requires elders to take up sticks to find the root cause. The ancestors agree now that Lungisa has been elected.
“[Oliver] Tambo introduced a culture of consensus in the ANC.
“Many matters are resolved that way … if the majority has spoken, it has spoken. Ours is to take that decision and make it ours. The ANC is looking at quality leadership, not just people with grey hair to lead.”
Turning to ANC provincial deputy chairman Sakhumzi Somyo, Zuma said: “You have brought me joy when you say the delegates have done their work last night, reflecting the will of the ANC of Nelson Mandela Bay.”
An elated Lungisa beamed at Zuma’s stamp of approval.
The two held a private meeting, which lasted about five minutes, before Zuma headed back to the airport.
Zuma’s turning up on the last day of the three-day conference at the ETC conference venue in Zwide, Port Elizabeth, has reinforced speculation by some that Lungisa is part of the group backing Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma to succeed Zuma as president of the ANC.
With the majority of the branches in the Bay behind Lungisa, it has raised questions about whether or not the ANC in the metro would, in fact, support Dlamini-Zuma at the national elective conference in December.
But three insiders, among them Lungisa supporters, said his victory at the weekend did not automatically mean the branches would support Dlamini-Zuma.
They said the branches would have to discuss it at length and take a decision when the time came.
The former head of the National Youth Development Agency also refused to be drawn into the leadership succession debate, saying the “perspective” of the region had to be developed first.
However, he cautioned against using labels to define Dlamini-Zuma, saying it was unfair to associate her with the premier league – a group of ANC provincial chairs who are said to be campaigning for her.
“I read about this premier league in newspapers and, when the time comes to discuss leadership, we will do it in the branches,” Lungisa said.
“But we must not label Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma.
“When we went to Polokwane in 2007, mama Dlamini-Zuma was in the same slate as Thabo Mbeki and people said she was strong and charismatic.
“Now, she’s just being seen as an ex-wife. Let’s not judge her.
“For us, we must not jump on the issue of leadership succession right now. We must first develop our perspective as a region,” he said.
The other new members of the REC top five are Phumzile Tshuni, who was elected deputy chairman, Themba Xathula (secretary), Desiree Davids (deputy secretary) and councillor Mbulelo Gidane (treasurer).
The 20 additional REC members are: Xolani Mgxoteni, Mark Beal, Siphiwo Tshaka, Nomvuselelo Tontsi, Gege Mbikanye, Itumeleng Ranyele, Rose Vrolik, Quennie Pink, Yoliswa Pali, Nomakhaya Ntozini, Ayanda Simay, Nontombi Nama, Nonhina Maswana, Ncediso Captain, Pakamile Ximiya, Zoleka Ngcese, Pamela Mbusi, Babalwa Lobishe, Mazwi Mini and Mxolisi Mani.
The election of the new leadership comes more than two years after the last REC was disbanded by Zuma due to continuous infighting, which spilt over into the administration of the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality.
The region has been managed by a task team appointed by Zuma in January 2015.
Lungisa and his new team vowed to focus on regaining the confidence of the electorate.
The organisational report of the Bay ANC painted a bleak picture of a party battling to improve its membership figure, which is sitting below 12 000.
“We are going to bring back the ANC character of being a mass movement,” Lungisa said.
“We are going to set up street committees to fight crime and make sure our communities are safe. We are going to wear tracksuits and All Stars [takkies] to walk around the streets dealing with crime.
“We won’t allow the city to be run by people who protect the interests of white monopoly capital.”
He said the party would mobilise “black political parties” – the EFF, COPE and UDM –- to take back the municipality from the DA.
Asked if a leadership reshuffle was on the cards for the ANC’s Bay caucus, Lungisa said he was happy with councillor Bicks Ndoni as caucus leader and Litho Suka as chief whip.
He did not envisage any immediate changes.
However, Lungisa said he would have to decide if he would stay on as a councillor or focus on his duties as regional chairman.