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ANC Youth League: Zuma for president

The African National Congress Youth League (ANCYL) on Monday again endorsed Deputy President Jacob Zuma as South Africa’s next president.

ANCYL president Fikile Mbalula said the league’s position on succession has not changed and it wants Zuma to succeed President Thabo Mbeki.

”Nothing has changed in our position. It’s still our view and we hold it … The only thing that will signify [a] change in our position is if there are fundamental factors that influence this.”

He was speaking at a press conference after the league’s national executive committee’s annual lekgotla (meeting) at the Vaal, south of Johannesburg, last week.

Also discussed at the meeting was the league’s programme for 2005, which will address financial aid for students and transformation in sport.

ANCYL deputy secretary general Vuyiswa Tulelo said the league will continue to engage the Department of Education to ensure that the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) provides support to disadvantaged students.

It will also work for a transparent system of decision-making on allocation of such aid.

”The regulation around first-level entry students to the university must be reviewed. The fact that these students cannot be immediately covered by the NSFAS is unacceptable and undermines the very objectives of this scheme.”

Tulelo said the youth league wants to speak to the NSFAS to review its position.

”We want to make some positive recommendations to them. There must be opportunities available to students in dire straits.”

She said the continued blacklisting of students by the scheme remains a source of serious concern.

”While the youth league demands an end to credit-bureau listing of students because of their NSFAS debts, it will similarly campaign to ensure that those who benefit from the NSFAS take responsibility to settle what they owe.

”Those who benefit from the fund must pay back to make it sustainable.”

Tulelo said the failure by the sector education and training authorities (Setas) to make tangible progress in closing the skills gap in the country also requires urgent action.

Transformation in sport

Mbalula also said the league has called on Minister of Sport and Recreation Makhenkesi Stofile and the government to intervene directly, replacing people who are not committed to transforming sport, particularly in rugby and cricket.

He said racist practices and racial exclusions continue to be a source of serious concern.

”We will engage rigorously with the minister of sport, the South African Football Association [Safa] and the South African Rugby Football Union [Sarfu] and other sporting bodies to ensure that all these entities respond in a tangible manner to the country’s transformation and youth empowerment agendas, rather than simply paying lip service.”

Mbalula said the league is concerned about the debacle within the rugby fraternity, in particular at the management level.

”The current management has not only failed to provide visionary leadership in rugby, which is sorely missed, but has continued, through its actions, to protect and preserve rugby as a white Afrikaner men’s sport.”

He said he has met with Sarfu president Brian van Rooyen and Sarfu’s deputy president, Andre Markgraaff, and there is ”visible commitment to change, but there were other obstacles and anti-transformation at all levels from coaches to management”.

Mbalula said ”black players are not given the opportunity to play the sport”, while there is a delay in the transformation process because ”most resources supporting and sponsoring rugby and cricket was from white private capital companies like Minolta and the Ruperts”.

He also mentioned that the league’s members have an interest in business, which it has disclosed since it is a public issue — as the league is ”looking at other means of funding our ideas and survival to sustain us”.

”Our members have a right and a role to participate in the mainstream economy as young entrepreneurs and businessman, and become successful.”

Language diversity

Mbalula said language diversity remains a very important instrument in building a South African nation that subscribes to the notion of common nationhood.

He said the league will campaign rigorously against the use of language by certain sections of the media, particularly the electronic media to perpetuate ”yesteryear differences rather than encourage diversity”.

He also said the public broadcaster continues to limit language-based broadcasting to specific regions, denying other South Africans the opportunity to hear languages not necessarily generally spoken in other regions.

Mbalula said other key elements of the programme include integrating the mandates of the National Youth Commission and the Umsobomvu fund, which will begin with the announcement of a panel that will be charged with the development of a conceptual design of an integrated youth development agency.

ANCYL secretary general Sihle Zikalala said the youth league will begin a process of building relations with youth organisations across the continent.

This is in response to a challenge issued by Mbeki to the youth league, repeated in the ANC’s January 8 statement, which called on the youth league to lead the process of building a progressive youth movement in Africa. — Sapa

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