The fate of Andile Lungisa, the newly-elected regional chairperson of the Nelson Mandela Bay branch of the ANC in the Eastern Cape, now rests in the hands of the party's highest decision making body, the national executive committee (NEC).
Lungisa was controversially elected to the position in defiance of instructions from ANC secretary general, Gwede Mantashe, who wrote to Lungisa urging him not to stand, as it is prohibited for members of a provincial executive from standing for regional positions.
Mantashe has vowed to deal with Lungisa, saying the circumstances around his election will set a bad precedent. But complicating matters is an endorsement by President Jacob Zuma, who flew to attend the conference where Lungisa was elected.
Business Day reported on Thursday that Lungisa wrote to Mantashe, arguing that he misinterpreted the rules and saying that the NEC was now the body that should decide his fate.
Lungisa reportedly said Mantashe "lacked the authority" to remove him from the position.
"It stands to reason that prior to the final decision on the matter, the secretary-general lacks authority to instruct the elected chairperson of the region to stand down," Lungisa reportedly wrote.
According to the paper, he also warned Mantashe against removing a "popularly elected" leader.
Reportedly, his letter stated that Lungisa said he would remain in his position unless the NEC ruled otherwise.