President Jacob Zuma and ANC general-secretary Gwede Mantashe took different paths on the appointment of former African National Congress Youth League deputy leader Andile Lungisa as chairman of the ANC’s Nelson Mandela Bay metro regional executive committee (REC).
While Zuma backed Lungisa’s appointment, Mantashe insisted that his appointment contradicted the ANC constitution.
Showing off his happiness while addressing delegates on Sunday at the ANC’s regional elective conference in Port Elizabeth, Zuma praised the ANC in the region for picking a “young, qualitative, energetic, and consistent leader.
Brandishing his signature giggle, the president said he was happy the league didn’t elect balding and grey leaders but a leader that would make them deliver.
“In other words, we choose the leader because we can explain why. A leader we can say is going to make us deliver on our programmes and policies. If the majority has spoken, it has spoken.
Ours is to respect that decision and take it as our own for the health of the organisation. We are in trying times as the organisation that must be clear to us,” he added to rousing applause in Nelson Mandela Bay.
On the contrary, however, Mantashe believes and had earlier warned that Lungisa’s appointment defies the party’s constitution. The ANC’s amended constitution bars people in higher structures to contest positions in lower structures.
In a letter sent to all provincial structures earlier last week, Mantashe stressed that on no account should people resign from the Provincial Executive Committee to stand for a position at a regional conference.
Lungisa, who was a member of the provincial executive committee (PEC), officially accepted the nomination for the lower Regional Executive Committee position in Nelson Mandela Bay, ignoring Mantashe’s letter.
On Saturday afternoon, Lungisa claimed he won’t be running for the post but he dramatically made a U-turn on Saturday night, claiming the branch insisted that he must run for the post. He finally beat his rival ANC MPL Tony Duba by 71 votes to 57 in the election.
Meanwhile, Mantashe has warned that Lungisa will be “dealt with” through party mechanisms.
Lungisa’s supporters argued that every member of the ANC had the Constitutional right to stand for positions. They insisted that Mantashe had apparently misinterpreted the constitution.
Provincial deputy chairman Sakhumzi Somyo promised to submit a report to ANC national leadership to explain why the branch decided to allow Lungisa to stand for the chairmanship.
In the meantime, the newly elected NMB chairperson said the first priority of the new leadership is to unify the party in the Bay and regain the confidence of the electorate.
“When we go to the 2019 elections, the ANC must be stronger than ever… Our people [in Nelson Mandela Bay] are suffering; they are not getting service delivery. We also want to address the question of land which the people in our townships need to be given,” he said.
Other priorities were economic transformation and unseating the DA in Nelson Mandela Bay.
The ANC sits as an opposition in the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality. The bay’s leadership is being led by the Democratic Alliance’s Mayor Athol Trollip.
The DA’s 46.71% win over ANC’s 40.92% in the August third local government elections plus a coalition with the UDM, COPE and ACDP gave the blue party the leadership seat.
Coalition talks between the DA and other parties held after the Maimane-led party failed to gather the 51% needed for an outright majority victory.