Defenders of the newly-elected (or not) chairperson of the African National Congress (ANC) in the Nelson Mandela Bay region, Andile Lungisa, have cited two instances where ANC leaders in higher structures stood for lower structures.
In the first exhibit, Ekurhuleni mayor Mzwandile Masina — a loyalist of President Jacob Zuma who endorsed Lungisa shortly after his election just over a week ago — said Nomvula Mokonyane (now Water and Sanitation Minister) was allowed to contest the chairperson position of the ANC's provincial executive committee in Gauteng while she was in the national executive council.
But that was in 2010, two years before the rule about leaders in higher structures being prohibited from standing for lower structures was adopted at the party's Mangaung conference, ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe pointed out in Talk at Nine on 702 on Sunday night.
In the second exhibit, Masina said Boyce Maneli (now West Rand District Municipality mayor) was deputy secretary in Gauteng when he stood for election as chairperson of the ANC in the West Rand region in 2014.
Again, Mantashe said the provincial conference, where Maneli lost his position, happened before the West Rand conference, which meant Maneli was no longer in the higher office when he stood for the lower.
Mantashe said Lungisa's defenders were deliberately not remembering that the provincial conference preceded the regional one.
He offered the example of Bheki Cele, who sits on the ANC's national executive committee (NEC) but who wanted to stand for the party in the eThekwini region in 2014. He eventually decided not to because of the rule.
Lungisa said he would not step down as Mantashe, on behalf of the ANC's top six officials, has ordered him to, but the matter should rather be decided by the NEC, which is meeting this weekend.
By going for broke Lungisa is risking cracking the party into two to get his way, but judging from the ANC's top body's previous failures to tackle Zuma head on, he might just survive this one.