ANC Youth League chooses change ahead of Mangaung

Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula has been nominated by the ANC Youth League to take over from Gwede Mantashe as party secretary general. (Oupa Nkosi, M&G)

Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula has been nominated by the ANC Youth League to take over from Gwede Mantashe as party secretary general. (Oupa Nkosi, M&G)

The ANC Youth League has officially nominated Kgalema Motlanthe and Fikile Mbalula to lead the ANC as president and secretary general respectively.

It also announced that it wanted current ANC treasurer Matthews Phosa to take over as ANC deputy president, North West Premier as national chairperson, Human Settlements Minister Tokyo Sexwale as treasurer general and Italy's ambassador Thenjiwe Mtintso as deputy secretary general.

"Following intensive and robust discussions where young people deliberated at length on the best cadres in the movement to take forward the organisation to the next 100 years, intact and united, young people of South Africa are united behind a collective that represents the necessary fearlessness, energy and experience required to drive the programme for urgent and radical change demanded by the masses of our people," the league's spokesperson Khusela Sangoni-Khawe said in a statement on Friday.

ANC deputy president Motlanthe is expected to challenge party president Jacob Zuma for the party's hot seat, while Sports Minister Mbalula – a former youth league leader – will be up against Gwede Mantashe for the position of secretary general during the party's crucial elective Mangaung conference next month.

All ANC branches are expected to finalise their nomination process by November 27. This will be followed by provincial general councils where nominations will be officially announced. So far Motlanthe and Mbalula are enjoying majority support in six provinces: Gauteng, Limpopo, Eastern Cape, Northern Cape, Western Cape and North West. Zuma and Mantashe have an overwhelming support in Free State, Mpumalanga and KwaZulu Natal.

The youth league has historically assumed a role of king maker. It played a major role for the election of both Thabo Mbeki and Zuma as party presidents. But it remains to be seen if the young lions' will impact the outcome of the electoral conference this time around after the expulsion of its president, Julius Malema. The expulsion of Malema was interpreted by many as a strategy to neutralise the youth league after it made clear its preferred candidates shortly after its national conference in June last year.

Said Sangoni-Khawe: "We will work tirelessly to lobby across all sectors of society and in all corners of South Africa, speaking to young and old, friend and foe, for the leadership collective we have nominated to be elected by members of the ANC in Mangaung. Following the 53rd national conference, together with all members of the ANC, we will work with the elected leadership to bring about a better life for all. On our programme of action we will never retreat and our confidence that the leaders we are nominating are ideally suited to deliver it is unquestionable".

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