A defiant Andile Lungisa will not resign from his position on the Nelson Mandela Bay council because the ANC’s national executive committee (NEC) resolution does not refer to him.
This was Lungisa’s position in a letter he wrote to the ANC’s Eastern Cape provincial secretary.
Lungisa was handed a letter of suspension by the provincial executive committee (PEC) on Tuesday, together with an instruction to resign from his position in council.
The PEC resolved to suspend him, citing his 2018 conviction for aggravated assault when, during a brawl in council, Lungisa smashed a glass jar on the head of a DA councillor.
In his letter, Lungisa said the NEC did not resolve that ordinary members, who do not hold leadership positions, must resign from public office, “unless I am being targeted for ulterior purpose. I would like to believe that this is not the case”, he wrote.
“Furthermore and for reasons more fully expressed herein above, I also cannot accept my ANC membership is suspended,” he said.
He added that, instead of resorting to clashes with the PEC, he preferred to resolve issues around the table and as per ANC dispute resolution mechanisms.
Lungisa has been at loggerheads with the provincial ANC leadership and the regional task team coordinator, Luyolo Nqakula, for months.
Tensions between Lungisa and the Oscar Mabuyane-led PEC started in 2017 when Mabuyane won the provincial elections in the conference dubbed the “festival of chairs”.
The Lungisa camp, which campaigned furiously for Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma for ANC president, refused to accept the incumbent leadership.
When the ANC Nelson Mandela Bay region failed to hold an elective conference, the Mabuyane-led PEC dissolved the regional leadership, placing a task team in its place.
Some in the Dlamini-Zuma camp in the region, however, felt it was Mabuyane’s way of muscling in.
Lungisa was said to have been instrumental in the ousting of then-DA mayor Athol Trollip in the metro, which resulted in the ANC and smaller opposition parties taking over.
After his conviction, Lungisa was instructed to resign as a member of the mayoral council, but he defied party orders, which had some support at Luthuli House.
After prompting by secretary-general Ace Magashule, he resigned two years later.
In August, following massive criticism about the ANC’s attitude towards corruption in its ranks, the NEC resolved that all those found to have been implicated in wrongdoing should step down and submit themselves to the integrity commission.
Focusing on the technicality of the NEC resolution, Lungisa said the instruction only referred to those holding leadership positions.
“The only leadership position that I currently hold is that of being a member of the BET of ward 2 of the Nelson Mandela Bay region. In this regard, kindly accept this as my official resignation from this leadership position,” he said.
He adds that he finds it “strange” that he is asked to resign as an ordinary council member and “surprising” that his ANC membership is suspended.
“I acknowledge that I have been convicted on charges of assault, due to me protecting myself during a scuffle in a council meeting against the DA.
“However, and importantly so, the NEC resolution which you refer to in your letter under reply has a clear rider which states that ‘this will be a turning point in the fight against corruption’.
“No doubt, you are fully aware that I have not been charged with or convicted of corruption, being the primary basis for the NEC resolutions.”
Lungisa dug in his heels, and said the appeal on his criminal conviction constitutes a stay in findings in terms of the ANC and the country’s constitutions.
“I do not and cannot accept a suspension of my membership, which was irregularly suggested. The NEC and the PEC, among others, have the power reasons in terms of rule 25.56 of the ANC constitution.
“However, neither the NEC, nor the PEC, resolved that my ANC membership be suspended as there cannot be a fair reasons for suspension, especially since I am currently still waiting the outcome of my appeal in my criminal matter.”
He further wrote that, according to the ANC’s constitution, a member has a formal procedure, which is just and fair, the right to be heard, defending themselves and the right to appeal.
He added that, according to the PEC’s suspension letter, it suggested that the NEC took a resolution “ultra vires” of ANC constitutional provisions and deprived him of his right to be heard.
Lungisa said: “I am further of the respectful view that what should have happened is that the NEC should have referred all those members as per their resolutions taken 28-30 August to disciplinary hearings and/or to the integrity commission for issues the said members are currently faced with retrospectively and then introduce the resolutions as they are taken prospectively”.
Efforts to reach provincial secretary Lulama Ngcukayitobi were unsuccessful.