Julius Malema has been elected as African National Congress Youth League (ANCYL) president at the league’s national conference at the University of the Free State in Bloemfontein.
Malema received 1Â 883 votes, it was announced on Monday, while the other candidate, Saki Mofokeng, received 1Â 696. The announcement was met with total silence by near half the delegates at the university’s Callie Human Centre, while hundreds of other delegates cheered.
When the rest of the results of the top five positions were announced, the pattern repeated itself. Malema supporters were holding placards indicating they had won five out of five.
The rest of the newly elected top five are Andile Lungisa as deputy president; Vuyiswa Tulelo — the only woman — as secretary general; Steven Ngobeni as deputy secretary general; and Pule Maba as treasurer general.
Delegates at the conference started to vote for the top five positions for the ANCYL at 7pm on Sunday evening, much later than scheduled. Arrangements were made for the extension of the congress to Monday afternoon. It was supposed to end on Sunday afternoon.
The congress came to a standstill on Saturday afternoon because the process of verifying the credentials of all delegates was not finished. On Monday, the conference still had to elect the additional members of the ANCYL national executive committee.
The Mail & Guardian reported last month that the youth organisation — which presented a united front in its support for Jacob Zuma to become the ANC president — was split into two factions ahead of its elective conference.
One group was led by former ANCYL president Fikile Mbalula and the other by the organisation’s secretary general, Sihle Zikalala.
Mbalula wanted Malema, the outgoing ANCYL provincial secretary, to succeed him, but Zikalala preferred the league’s national organiser, Mofokeng, to take over as president.
The Mbalula faction believed that under Malema’s militant leadership the league would continue to rally support behind Zuma. The Zikalala group, on the other hand, believed Mofokeng (although also a Zuma supporter) was more experienced and articulate than Malema, the M&G wrote.
Malema was supported by the provincial branches of Limpopo, Mpumalanga, Eastern Cape and the Northern Cape. Provinces that supported Mofokeng included Gauteng, North West and KwaZulu-Natal. The Western Cape supported league veteran Songezo Mjongile.
ANCYL insiders told the M&G that Zikalala’s opposition to Malema as the league’s next president had nothing to do with his loyalty to Zuma, but more to do with his alienation from the current ANCYL leadership.
“There is a silent cold war between Zikalala and Mbalula. He [Zikalala] is supporting a different candidate to Mbalula because he is of the view that he was alienated as secretary general. He was never in the inner core of the Mbalulas. He was the secretary general under siege,” said one ANCYL leader at the time.
Kgalema Motlanthe, deputy president of the ANC, on Sunday criticised the “state of disorder” that characterised the ANCYL’s national conference in Bloemfontein.
Motlanthe, in offering “constructive criticism” to the new leadership, said the league needed to address urgently its organisational and structural weaknesses. “It could not be correct that the youth league pronounces and acts in a manner that creates the perception that it was not quite amenable to the organisational discipline of the ANC,” he said.
A Sunday Times report said that rowdy elements had exchanged blows and disrupted ANC president Jacob Zuma’s keynote address at the event on Thursday by shouting out the names of their preferred candidates for the league’s presidency.
Outgoing president Mbalula said that “forces” had tried to disrupt the congress but that they had failed. “We are aware of disruptive elements, which is unfortunate.”
He apologised to South Africa for actions displayed by these “disruptive elements” at the conference since Thursday last week. “We want to apologise to the ANC, our mother body, for the things we should have kept and did not.”