Lungisa ordered to step down

But new Bay chairman defies ANC top six

New Nelson Mandela Bay regional chairman Andile Lungisa has been ordered by the ANC’s top leadership to resign and resume his duties as a member of the party’s Eastern Cape executive committee.

The decision was taken at a meeting between the ANC’s top six – Jacob Zuma, Cyril Ramaphosa, Baleka Mbete, Gwede Mantashe, Jessie Duarte and Zweli Mkhize – on Monday.

Confirming the move, ANC provincial secretary Oscar Mabuyane said yesterday he had personally communicated the instruction to Lungisa and the newly constituted regional executive committee.

“The decision of the national leadership officials of the ANC [said] that what was communicated by [secretarygeneral] Mantashe was in line with the resolution and the constitution of the ANC and was an established practice,” he said.

“So, we’ve requested comrade Andile and the region to now act … according to that decision. “It’s an instruction that says he should not have been availing himself for [the regional chairmanship] and he should not be in that collective.

“He must remain in the PEC where he was correctly elected,” Mabuyane said.

But a defiant Lungisa, whose election received Zuma’s blessing on Sunday, said he was waiting for the ANC’s highest decision-making body between conferences – the national executive committee (NEC) – to take a decision on the matter.

Asked if he would accept the letter with the instruction,

Lungisa said: “I am not talking about other structures, I will not comment on that.

“I will wait for the highest decision-making body of the ANC.”

The NEC is made up of close to 90 men and women of the ANC’s top command, with the balance of forces said to be largely in Zuma’s favour.

Although Mabuyane said deputy chairman Phumzile Tshuni would take over the reins until a new chairman was elected, Lungisa was still attending meetings yesterday and campaigning for upcoming SRC elections as the ANC regional head.

Mabuyane said a new chairman would be elected at a “properly and constitutionally convened” regional general council as there were clear instructions that they would not redo the regional elective conference.

Regional secretary Themba Xathula said the regional executive committee would discuss the matter at a meeting scheduled for late yesterday.

Asked if they would fight the decision, Xathula said: “There will be no fight about this.” The latest developments follow days of back-and-forth letters between Lungisa and Mantashe, ever since the secretary-general warned on Wednesday last week that the party’s constitution prohibited Lungisa, as a provincial leader, from contesting a seat in the regional structure.

Lungisa went ahead anyway and was elected by 71 votes to the 57 of his opponent, Tony Duba, at last weekend’s conference.

His actions, and comments that Mantashe was motivated by factional interests, led to Mantashe referring the matter to the party’s top disciplinary body.

Lungisa has since apologised for the comments.

While the decision of the top six could be interpreted as a win for Mantashe – or a show of no support for Zuma among the top brass of the party – political analyst Professor Mcebisi Ndletyana said it was not necessarily the case.

On Sunday, rifts within the ANC’s top body were exposed when Zuma jetted into the Bay and endorsed Lungisa’s election.

At the time, Zuma said the majority of the branches in the metro had spoken and even the ancestors agreed with Lungisa’s election.

But Ndletyana believed that Mantashe’s argument had been strong from the onset.

“One thing that is no surprise is that there will always be contentions on the interpretation of the constitution,” he said.

“Various groupings with different interests will always interpret the constitution the way it is convenient for them.

“This case was clear from the start because of the specificity of the constitution.

“There was a deviation from precedence and it was difficult to contest.

“There are cases that are murky, like the case of Brian Molefe where there is no clear guideline, and opportunists are able to exploit that gap in the constitution,” Ndletyana said.

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