Andile Lungisa has given ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe the middle finger, and has won the nomination for chairperson of the ANC’s Nelson Mandela region.
Lungisa was elected at the party’s conference in Port Elizabeth in the early hours of Sunday morning, despite a national directive from top ANC leaders warning him not to run.
Lungisa’s bid for the ANC’s top spot in Nelson Mandela Bay was dealt a blow last week as it emerged that the party’s national leaders would not – as per the ANC’s constitution – allow him to contest the chairmanship during the region’s fifth conference this weekend.
In a letter addressed to the structures of the ANC, Mantashe wrote: “We have consistently interpreted this as prohibiting comrades from higher organs of the ANC from contesting positions in lower organs. Any attempt to resign from the provincial executive committee in the run-up to regional conferences must not be allowed as it is opportunistic. Comrades must be advised that the ANC structures are about serving not ‘power’.”
A clearly unmoved Lungisa said he had the backing of 38 branches out of the 43 attending the conference.
Since the news of the letter broke last week, all eyes have been on Nelson Mandela Bay.
The ANC Nelson Mandela region, which has been without a regional structure after the disbandment of the ANC in January 2015, had called for the election of a regional executive committee.
Rampant corruption and deep divisions within the regional division of the organisation led to the national executive committee taking the dramatic step of pulling the carpet from under the feet of the regional committee.
Following the deployment of a 31 member regional task team, the Bay ANC structures were more vocal on demanding a formal structure that would lead them, under the leadership.
The task team was reduced to six members after deployees pulled out one after the other for various reasons.
Two other nominees, Mthiwabo Ndube and Mabhuti Dano declined nominations to contest for the top seat.
Earlier on Saturday, Lungisa told City Press that he had decided to step down, after Mantashe gave him his marching orders, based on constitutional discrepancies.
“I decided to stand down because at some point you must make decisions, even if you end up losing, as an individual,” said Lungisa.
“I decided that Andile must fall and the ANC must rise,” he said.
He said he could proceed with his plans if he chose to.
“I am the only legitimate candidate on the ballot here, but I will allow others to take my place in the contest,” said Lungisa.
Minutes before the nomination process, Lungisa changed his mind. In an unexpected move that left many delegates perplexed, he accepted the nomination.