The young lions’ internecine squabbles over its leadership elections in the North West have led branch delegates to lobby the ANC for a do-over.
ANC Youth League branches in the North West have asked Luthuli House to nullify the league’s provincial conference that elected new leaders at the weekend, amid allegations of vote-rigging and electoral fraud.
A number of youth league members from different regions in North West visited Luthuli House on Monday to register their grievances with the party’s top brass.
They have accused the league’s national task team (NTT) – in particular the national co-ordinator Magasela Mzobe – of being the mastermind behind the alleged vote-rigging. Mzobe is running for the youth league’s presidency. The league will hold its first national elective conference in September, after the axing of its former president Julius Malema (now leader of the Economic Freedom Fighters) and the disbandment of its national executive committee in 2012.
The buildup to the youth league’s national conference next month has been marked by chaotic scenes in some parts of the country.
Two weeks ago, North West MEC for human settlement and local government Collen Maine was allegedly beaten-up by delegates of the Ngaka Modiri Molema regional conference in that province.
In the Sekhukhune region of Limpopo, delegates allegedly refused to continue with a conference that was convened under chaotic conditions with some delegates being declared nonvoting while they claimed to be representatives of their branches.
A week before the youth league’s provincial conference in the Northern Cape, the house of a co-ordinator of the Frances Baard region was set on fire. But the blaze was extinguished before much damage was caused.
A member of the youth league from the Bojanala region in North West, Thabo Molamu, who was among league members who went to Luthuli House on Monday, said branches decided to approach Luthuli House after their grievances were ignored by the ANC in North West and the league’s national task team.
“We are here [Luthuli House] to raise our concerns about the disputes we submitted prior to provincial and regional conferences. We sent about 10 grievances to the NTT, but they only attended to one – the integration of our membership. Even after that, the task team insisted that we continue with the provincial conference,” said Molamu.
The youth league members were briefly addressed by the minister in the presidency Jeff Radebe, who is also a member of the ruling party’s national working committee. He informed them that Ignatius Jacobs, the general manager in the secretary general’s office, would attend to their complaints and include them in the agenda of the ANC’s national working committee meeting – which was already under way.
Molamu said the disputes by branches ranged from gatekeeping (a process that is intended to sideline some members who hold a different view to those who want to be elected to leadership positions) to the failure to adopt credentials at some regional conferences.
“We have evidence that the entire rebuilding process of the youth league was done in a very wrong way by the task team. They are rigging the entire process. Some of our dispute dates back to January, but they were never attended to,” said Molamu. “The NTT is defying instructions from the ANC to deal with the disputes.”
He said branches would push for the provincial conference to be declared null and void.
“The youth league is currently under the ANC. The ANC must come back and say the task team have defied our processes. We want the ANC to declare the provincial conference null and void because the NTT co-ordinator has shown interest in the leadership process. We don’t have confidence in him.
“When the ANC established the national task team, they said no one must express interests in leadership positions. But Magasela defied that and we don’t think he is capable of leading this process anymore. He is sidelining those who are not supporting him,” said Molamu. “We are suffering from ill-treatment by the NTT and Magasela.”
He also accused the ANC in North West – under the leadership of Premier Supra Mahumapelo, who is also the ANC’s provincial chairperson – of being factional, after Mahumapelo allegedly supported the election of Maine as the youth league’s new provincial chairperson.
“The provincial ANC chair and his collective are biased towards one core [faction]. They treat us as if we do not exist. We lost our confidence in them ... that is why we approached the national office to intervene,” he said.
Kenny Morolong, the former spin doctor for the party in North West who has also been nominated by some branches to stand for president, said he was disappointed by the manner in which the North West ANC leadership handled the matter.
“We have the utmost respect towards the ANC processes and the ability of the party to resolve these challenges. [But] It is ridiculous for an ANC leader to take a posture and not provide a fair audience to all,” said Morolong, in response to Mahumapelo’s remarks, on national television at the weekend, that he was aware that a group of youth league branches intended to go to Luthuli House to register their grievances.
“This is a reflection of the reality that there are those [in the ANC] who elect to lead a faction and not the entirety of the movement,” said Morolong.
Mzobe was not available for comment this week. But in an interview with the Mail & Guardian last week, he denied accusations of manipulating the youth league audits in the build-up to the congress.
Mzobe said all the auditing was done by the party’s own auditors, who account to ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe. He played no role in the auditing process, but that of signing off a final audit report, which happens at the very end of an auditing process.
“I hope people aren’t going to suggest that I manipulate the audit team of the ANC,” Mzobe said.
The party’s North West spokesperson, Oupa Matla, described the allegations against Mahumapelo and the ANC in North West as baseless. Matla said if the youth league was unhappy about voting processes, it should approach the task team, not the ANC.
“There is nothing that the ANC can do about their complain. The ANC cannot be seen to be interfering in the affairs of the youth league,” said Matla.
Party spokesperson Keith Khoza said the ANC would investigate all the allegations and take action. – Additional reporting by Andisiwe Makinana