Lungisa, Dlamini headache for ANC NEC

2017-03-24 12:43
ANC leadership. (News24, file)

ANC leadership. (News24, file)

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Johannesburg - The ANC's national executive committee meeting, starting on Friday, is expected to tackle two new sources of contention within the party - Nelson Mandela Bay's newly-elected chairperson Andile Lungisa and Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini's handling of the social grants distribution debacle.

Embattled Lungisa, who was initially given until Thursday to step down, has defied party secretary general Gwede Mantashe and insisted that only the party's highest decision-making body could instruct him to resign.

The furore has pitted Mantashe against President Jacob Zuma, after Zuma endorsed Lungisa's election, by making a surprise visit to the regional congress to congratulate him after his victory.

It is expected to increase tensions ahead of the ANC's elective conference, with Lungisa's win seen as a major victory for those campaigning for former African Union chairperson Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma to become the party's next president.

His election is seen as a consolidation of the campaign for Dlamini-Zuma in the divided Eastern Cape.

At the heart of the controversy is the interpretation of the ANC's rule 17.4, adopted at the 2012 Mangaung conference.

'Elastic and arbitrary interpretation of rule'

It states that any member elected to a provincial executive committee (PEC) should resign from any position held in a lower structure of the party.

Lungisa, who is a PEC member, stood for the position of regional chair two weeks ago, despite a letter by Mantashe ordering him not to do so.

His fate now rests with the NEC, after he wrote a letter to the party in the province in which he said that he would await a decision from 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," Lungisa said in the letter, which News24 has seen.

A party insider, who supports Zuma, admitted that - while Lungisa was a strong ally needed to campaign for support in the Eastern Cape - it wouldn't be easy defending him, as other leaders like Deputy Minister of Agriculture Bheki Cele and Water and Sanitation Minister Nomvula Mokonyane, who are both NEC members, were previously barred from contesting positions in lower structures.

He said the other alternative was for Lungisa to challenge the interpretation of the rule with the courts, but he would risk suspension, as the party does not take kindly to members challenging it in court.

Dlamini to face her colleagues

This is the first time the NEC is meeting since the social grants debacle.

Dlamini will face her colleagues after the Constitutional Court slammed her for "incompetence" and for failing to perform her constitutional obligation to find a new service provider, after the court found that the contract with Cash Paymaster Services was invalid.

Dlamini has already been hauled before the party's integrity commission.

She is expected to explain to the court next week, why she should not be held personally liable for the legal costs.

Two party insiders - from the Zuma and anti-Zuma factions, admitted that if the matter was raised within the NEC, "it will lead to a fight".

Read more on:    anc  |  andile lungisa  |  bathabile dlamini

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