Cape Town - Newly elected Nelson Mandela Bay African National Congress chairperson Andile Lungisa is standing his ground and has not resigned from his position.
Now it will be up to national structures to make a final decision on whether he should remain the chairperson of the region.
This after Lungisa was given until Thursday to resign, a week after he was elected into the position at a congress in Nelson Mandela Bay.
"Failure to heed this advice may lead to disciplinary action being considered against you," the provincial secretary said in a letter to Lungisa on Monday.
But he did respond to the ANC Provincial Executive Committee's ultimatum, provincial secretary Oscar Mabuyane said on Thursday.
Mabuyane on Thursday said Lungisa had indicated that he had appealed to national to deal with the issue.
"So we are giving him that time and [we will] see what happens next week," he said.
The ANC's NEC will meet on Friday.
Following the ultimatum, Lungisa wrote a letter to Mabuyane, appealing to the PEC to await a decision from the national structures on the matter.
"I am in correspondence with the officials of the NEC, and have expressed my contention to the elastic and arbitrary interpretation of Rule 17.4 of the ANC constitution. The officials, through the Secretary General, Cde Gwede Mantashe, indicated that the matter would be referred to the National Executive Committee for further deliberations and clarity," the letter, which News24 has seen, said.
Lungisa said he was a disciplined member of the ANC with full confidence in the internal processes.
"I would also appeal to the Comrades of the PEC to await a process initiated by a higher structure, and desist from the unhelpful, and dare I say, uncomradely threats of disciplinary procedures against myself for a complicated and nuanced political situation."
An endorsement by President Jacob Zuma at the congress was not enough to keep the defiant Lungisa in his position, after the top six resolved that he should resign.
Meanwhile, the ANC Youth League in Nelson Mandela Bay on Thursday told Lungisa not to resign.
"It is our view that chairperson of the ANC must not undermine the will of the majority of branches by resigning. His resignation must be informed by a directive of the no other structure other than that of the NEC," Luyolo Nqakula, youth league Regional Task Team convener said.
The league rubbished some of the precedence cited by the party as reasons for Lungisa's illegitimacy for the chairpersonship.
The ANC constitution was very clear on the matter, they said, and Lungisa now only had to resign from the PEC after he was elected to head the region.
In the back and forth between the ANC leaders and Lungisa, the party pointed out a number of leaders who had not been allowed to run for other positions in the party, and obeyed.
This reasoning, the regional youth league said, was flawed.
"If I come and I rape a comrade and he does not report me at the police station, and I proceed to rape person B, and he does not report me and I attempt to rape person three and he reports me, it does not make the previous rapes right just because they were not reported," Nqakula said in explaining the situation.
Here is Andile Lungisa's letter to Gwede Mantashe:
Dear Secretary General, Comrade Gwede Mantashe
Your letter regarding the decision of the national officials to the effect that I must step down from the elected position as Chairperson of the Region of Nelson Mandela Bay as reference.
The recently elected Regional Executive Committee of Nelson Mandela Metro was presided over by the Provincial Executive Committee and the National Executive Committee. The question as to my eligibility to contest the position was discussed at the conference in full. The decision taken at the dully constituted conference – with the PEC and the NEC fully participating – was that I was eligible to participate in the conference and to stand for election as Regional Chairperson. It is therefore not correct that I acted in defiance of any decision or resolution or policy of the organisation.
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.
Your letter indicates that the matter will be referred to the NEC. It is presumed that the purpose of referring the matter to the NEC is for its deliberation and decision. It would be out of step with the status and responsibility of the NEC if such a matter was referred to the NEC as a fait accompli. In this regard, clause 12.1 of the constitution of the ANC states “The National Executive Committee is the highest organ of the ANC between National Conferences and has the authority to lead the organisation, subject to the provisions of this Constitution.”
It is our understanding that the reason why the matter has been referred to the NEC is for a binding and final decision to be taken. It stands to reason 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. Should that be the understanding in the matter, it would be in conflict with the provisions of the constitution and undermine the role of the NEC as the highest decision making body in the organisation, between conferences.
In order to ensure that there is no misunderstanding, 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.
In relation to the letter by the Secretary General, the following points need to be noted:
1. I was never invited by the Secretary General to give my side of the story before the Secretary General presented the matter to the National Official Bearers. The principle of a fair hearing is important to all decisions of the organisation, particularly one with such profound implications. This is so because this decision does not affect an individual but the whole REC which was elected. I was elected, as part and parcel of a collective, not simply representing myself, but the collective interests of the branches that nominated me.
2. When the matter is presented to the NEC, it is hoped that the Secretary General will take appropriate steps to ensure that I together with the new REC are afforded an opportunity to present our side of the story. It is also important for the NEC to be made aware that the issues raised in your letter were discussed in full at the conference, which was also attended by the PEC.
3. It is to be noted, respectfully, that the Secretary General appears to have misinterpreted the rule in question. Rule 17.4, reads “A member elected to the PEC shall resign from any position held in a lower structure in the ANC.” This rule does not state that no member serving in a higher structure shall stand for election in a lower structure, as it has been stated by the Secretary General. The purpose of the rule is plainly that an elected member must not serve at the time in both the lower and higher structures.
4. The rules of the organisation must be read in conformity and consistently with all the rules. Rule 17.4 cannot be given an interpretation which will contradict other rules of the organisation. The provisions of clause 5.1.4 grant all members of the organisation the right to “take part in elections and be elected or appointed to any committee, structure, commission or delegation of the ANC.” The interpretation given by the Secretary General is in conflict with this basic right of members.
5. It has also been stated the interpretation is consistent with previous precedent. This is disputed. It would be appreciated if the Secretary General could provide us with the examples of precedent which he is referring to in justifying the instruction. To be clear, it is my understanding that there is in fact no such precedent in the organisation.
Of more importance, we would like both the SG and the NEC to consider the dreadful net effect of removing a popularly elected regional leadership, in a region where the ANC is mired by political malaise. This decision, we believe in the first instance, will serve to demoralize the rank and file branch members who have just gone through a bruising but ultimately strengthening electoral process. Further, this decision sends a message of an organization in disarray to the general public, thus worsening our already beleaguered public image in a Metro we have lost to the the protectors of white privilege, the Democratic Alliance.
At a time when the neocolonialist municipal administration of the DA is attacking the most vulnerable communities in our Metro under the spurious pretext of 'fiscal discipline and consolidation', it would be folly to disable the ANC's ability to effectively respond and become an effective opposition. We thus urge a reconsideration of this decision and debacle, and allow the newly elected REC the space and time to energize our branches and mobilize our communities against the enemies of our the National Democratic Revolution.
Yours in Struggle