The embattled Nelson Mandela Bay region of the ANC elected Andile Lungisa as its chairman at a conference severely at the weekend, despite a warning from Luthuli House over his eligibility to stand for election due to his position in a higher structure of the organisation.
In a show of support for Lungisa, President Jacob Zuma on Sunday made an unscheduled visit to the conference.
Zuma praised the ANC in the region for electing young leadership, saying he was “happy” and “proud”.
The problems within the ANC in the Eastern Cape region contributed to its decline in electoral support in the past two local government elections and its loss of the metro to a DA-led coalition in 2016.
Lungisa is seen as close to the faction in the ANC supporting former AU commission chairwoman Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma to succeed Zuma when the party elects new leadership at its conference in December.
On Wednesday‚ ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe sent a letter to provincial structures countrywide and
reminded them about the party’s constitution, which he said barred members of the provincial executive committee (PEC) from serving on a lower structure. Lungisa is a member of the party’s PEC in the Eastern Cape and, therefore, was not allowed to contest for the
position of regional chairman, a lower structure.
At the three-day regional elective conference at the weekend in Port Elizabeth‚ Lungisa supporters argued that he be allowed to stand‚ saying that the constitution had been misinterpreted by Mantashe. After hours of deliberations, Lungisa was eventually allowed to stand.
He said he was earlier threatened with disciplinary action by Mantashe in a phone call.
Mantashe said that the ANC “has a formula to deal with
“Lungisa too will be dealt with through the same mechanism and I won’t be discussing this with the media‚” he said.